Memorial University of Newfoundland is the only university in Newfoundland and Labrador. It has campuses in St. John's and in Corner Brook, as well as Harlow, England.

The Beginning

Memorial University College was established as a memorial to the Newfoundlanders who had lost their lives on active service during the First World War; it was later rededicated to also encompass the province's war dead of the Second World War. The College opened its doors on the old Parade grounds in St. John's to a total student body of 55 on September 15, 1925.

University Status

The elevation of the College to the full status of a university was one of the priorities of the first post-Confederation Government. At the initial session of our Provincial House of Assembly, July 13, 1949, the intention of the Government of the day was conveyed by the then Lieutenant-Governor, the Honourable Sir Albert Walsh, in these words from the Speech from the Throne:

"It is considered that Newfoundland should have her own degree-conferring University and you will be invited to consider legislation which would confer upon the Memorial University College the status of a university. It is planned to widen and improve the functions, and thus increase the public usefulness of this institution created originally in honour of our illustrious dead of the First World War."

Royal assent was given the Bill creating The Memorial University of Newfoundland on August 13, 1949, exactly one month to the day from the opening of the House. The Board of Regents and the Senate were inaugurated in May 1950, and the first Convocation of the University was held on June 3, 1950, when the first degrees were awarded.

A Period of Expansion

With university status, Memorial University of Newfoundland entered a period of rapid growth that was to continue into the 70s. In 1949-1950, there was a student body of 307 in the new University; in the academic year 1961-1962, when the University moved to its present campus, the student enrolment had reached 1745 full-time and 152 part-time. Ten years later, 1971-1972, the student population, including full- and part-time students on degree programs, was 10,980.

Meanwhile, there were equally dramatic changes in the variety and extent of available academic programs. In the early years of the University, there were two Faculties (Arts and Science, and Education). While the academic structure was quite similar in 1961, when the University moved to the present campus, areas of instruction, course offerings and degrees awarded had all increased.

Today, the University has six Faculties - Arts, Science, Education, Medicine, Engineering and Business Administration; and seven Schools - Graduate Studies, Nursing, Human Kinetics and Recreation, Social Work, Continuing Education, Music and Pharmacy; and also offers degree programs in Fine Arts.

In 1975, the University established a campus in Corner Brook. The College, in 1979, was named the Sir Wilfred Grenfell College honouring the memory of the medical missionary who pioneered medicine in Northern Newfoundland and along the coast of Labrador. In addition to the college's first- and second-year course offerings, and degree programs in fine arts, bachelor of arts programs in cognitive studies, English and psychology were introduced in 1993 and a bachelor of science program in environmental science in 1995. As of 1996, students may also take the first two years of the forest resource program offered through the University of New Brunswick.

In 1992 the Marine Institute joined the University, becoming the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland. Founded in 1964, the institute offers a range of programs in fisheries and marine technology and is involved in research and technology transfer.

The University's faculty and students actively participate in research and development in a number of disciplines. Memorial University of Newfoundland is one of the most important research facilities in Atlantic Canada and has developed several research facilities that are among the most advanced in the world. These include the Amino Acid Facility, the Archaeology Unit, the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Aquaculture Research and Development Facility, AquaNet, the Bonne Bay Marine Station, the Botanical Garden, the Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation (CCFI), the Canadian Centre for Marine Communications (CCMC), the Centre for Cold Ocean Resources Engineering (C-CORE), the Centre for Aquaculture and Seafood Development, the Centre for Chemical Analysis, Research and Training (C-CART), the Centre for Collaborative Health Professional Education, the Centre for Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE), the Centre for Digital Hardware Applications Research, the Centre for International Business Studies (CIBS), the Centre for Marine Simulation, the Centre for Material Culture Studies, the Centre for Offshore and Remote Medicine (MEDICOR), the Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Resources, the Coasts Under Stress, the Computation and Visualization Centre, the Digital Research Centre for Qualitative Fieldwork, the Genesis Centre, the Geographical Information and Digital Analysis Laboratory (GEOIDAL), the Health Research Unit, the Hubert W. Kelly Memorial Chair in Youth-Focused Technological Entrepreneurship, the INCA Centre for Instrumentation, Control and Automation, the Industrial Outreach Group (IOG), the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER), the J.I. Clark Chair of Intelligent Systems for Operations in Harsh Environment, the J.R. Smallwood Foundation for Newfoundland and Labrador Studies, the Labrador Institute, the Manufacturing Technology Centre, the Maritime History Archive, the Maritimes Studies Research Unit (MSRU), the Medical Engineering Centre, the Memorial University of Newfoundland Cartographic Laboratory (MUNCL), the Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFL), the Multimedia Communications Laboratory (MCL), the Multiphase Flow Research Lab, the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Applied Health Research, the NSERC, DFA, DFO, FPI Chair in Fisheries Conservation, the Ocean Engineering Research Centre (OERC), the Ocean Sciences Centre, the Offshore Safety and Survival Centre, the Paterson Chair in Mineral Deposits Research, the P.J. Gardiner Institute for Small Business Studies, the Research Chair in Child Protection, the Research Chair in Seabird Ecology, the Research Chair in Pediatric Genetics, the Telehealth and Educational Technology Resource Agency (TETRA), and the Terra-Nova Project Chair in Ocean Environmental Risk Engineering.


St. John's

The St. John's campus covers a total area of approximately 220 acres. It is divided by Prince Philip Drive, a four-lane arterial road that runs east to west across the campus. To the south, the boundary is Elizabeth Avenue; to the north, Long Pond and Kelly's Farm. The western boundary follows Westerland Drive, west along Prince Philip Drive and north along Wicklow Street; on the east, the campus is bounded by Higgin's Line and adjoins the St. John's Arts & Culture Centre property on Allandale Road.

On that part of the campus to the south of Prince Philip Drive are the Arts and Administration, Science, Chemistry-Physics, Education (G.A. Hickman), Mathematics (Henrietta Harvey), Human Kinetics and Recreation, Biotechnology, Services and Music (M.O. Morgan) buildings, the Queen Elizabeth II Library, Paton College residence complex, Burton's Pond Apartments, MUNSU-MUN Child Care Centre, the Thomson Centre, and a number of smaller buildings.  The Field House athletics complex was opened in 2002.  Spanning Prince Philip Drive is the Smallwood Centre.

North of Prince Philip Drive are the Health Sciences Centre incorporating the Faculty of Medicine, the School of Nursing, the School of Pharmacy, and the General Hospital Corporation; the Engineering (S.J. Carew) Building, the Alexander Murray Building, the Faculty of Business Administration Building, the C-CORE (Captain Robert A. Bartlett) Building, St. John's College, Coughlan College, Queen's College, Spencer Hall, and the Fisheries and Marine Institute on Ridge Road. The National Research Council's Institute for Marine Dynamics, which is Canada's prime centre for studies related to cold ocean resources development, is also located on the north side of the campus.

Corner Brook

The Sir Wilfred Grenfell College stands on a magnificent 185-acre site with a spectacular view of the city of Corner Brook and the Bay of Islands. It is a complex housing administrative, academic and recreational sections, a student residence, dining hall, and bookstore. The Fine Arts Building features state-of-the-art facilities for the theatre and visual arts programs. Another building houses the library, computer lab and lecture hall facilities. The Forest Centre Building and the Student Centre Annex opened in 1997. Plans are being developed for a new campus residence complex with apartment-style accommodations.

Fisheries and Marine Institute

The Fisheries and Marine Institute is located on Ridge Road in Pippy Park. The main building has a commanding position overlooking the city of St. John's and is the cornerstone of a complex of facilities equipped for education and research to meet the needs of the marine industry and associated businesses.

Other Fisheries and Marine Institute facilities include a site located about 30 kilometres from St. John's at Little Soldier's Pond, where programs in theoretical and practical elements of training to prepare marine personnel to handle emergency situations are offered; a marine base at the Southside of St. John's Harbour, where realistic offshore safety drills take place; a building at Nagles Hill, where the Aquaculture Unit is housed, and offices located in the Pippy Park Headquarters where international activities are focused.


The objectives of Memorial University of Newfoundland are: to develop in the province an institution of higher learning deserving of respect for the quality of its academic standards and of its research; to establish new programs to meet the expanding needs of the province; and to provide the means whereby the University may reach out to all the people.

In 1994 Memorial adopted a mission statement and strategic plan. The mission statement reads,

Memorial University is committed to excellence in teaching, research and scholarship, and service to the general public.

Memorial University recognizes a special obligation to educate the citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador, to undertake research on the challenges this province faces and to share its expertise with the community.

Memorial University's strategy to meet the 21st century has five themes. These themes are inclusive, in that they are intended to apply throughout the University and to break down barriers to communication and cooperation across disciplines, and academic and administrative units.

A comprehensive theme is quality in everything we do.

1. Quality

The University will systematically act to enhance quality in all of the services: to students, to the rest of the university community and to external stakeholders.

The second and third themes derive from our mission.

2. Outreach Education

The University will adapt its programs and services to meet the changing needs, expectations and characteristics of students.

3. Community Resource

The University will enhance its presence in the community and create means for our community to learn about and to utilize the resources of the university.

The fourth and fifth themes derive from our location.

4. Mid-North/Atlantic

The University will take advantage of its mid-north and Atlantic location in educational programs, research activities and community services.

5. Expanding Horizons

The University will develop its international linkages to promote individual, cultural and economic growth, and to provide a means to contribute to the world community.


1925 - 1933 Mr. John Lewis Paton
1933 - 1949 Dr. Albert G. Hatcher


1949 - 1952 Dr. Albert G. Hatcher
1952 - 1966 Dr. Raymond Gushue
1966 - 1967 Mr. M.O. Morgan (pro tempore)
1967 - 1973 The Rt. Hon. the Lord Taylor of Harlow
1973 - 1981 Dr. M.O. Morgan
1981 - 1990 Dr. Leslie Harris
1990 - 1999 Dr. Arthur W. May
1999-           Dr. Axel Meisen


1952 - 1961 The Rt. Hon. the Viscount Rothermere of Hemsted
1961 - 1968 The Rt. Hon. the Lord Thomson of Fleet
1971 - 1979 Dr. G. Alain Frecker
1979 - 1988 Dr. Paul G. Desmarais
1994 -          Hon. Dr. John C. Crosbie


1950 - 1954 Hon. Sir Albert Walsh
1954 - 1968 Dr. E.J. Phelan
1968 - 1974 Hon. Dr. Gordon A. Winter
1974 - 1982 Hon. Dr. F.W. Russell
1982 - 1991 Dr. Charles W. White
1991 - 1997 Dr. Janet Gardiner
1997 - 2002 Mr. Edward Roberts
2002 -          Mr. Chris Decker


The Constitution of the University is embodied in an Act of the House of Assembly of Newfoundland entitled An Act Respecting the Memorial University of Newfoundland, Chap. 231, Revised Statutes of Newfoundland (as amended). The Act delineates the authority and the functions of the University and its parts, as follows:

There shall be a university which shall be called the Memorial University of Newfoundland, consisting of a Chancellor, Convocation, Board of Regents, Senate, Faculty Councils and the Faculties and which shall be a body politic and corporate. No other university having corporate powers capable of being exercised within Newfoundland shall be known by the same name, nor shall any other university have power to grant degrees.

The University shall have full power and authority from time to time and at all times to establish and maintain such faculties, colleges, schools, institutions, departments, chairs and courses as to the Board of Regents may seem meet, and to give instructions and training; to grant degrees, including honorary degrees, diplomas and certificates of proficiency; to provide facilities for the prosecution of original research in every branch of knowledge and learning and to conduct and carry on such research work; and generally, to promote and carry on the work of a university in all its branches.

The Board of Regents

The management, administration and control of the property, revenue, business and affairs of the University are vested in a Board of Regents, consisting of:

a) three ex-officio members

i. the Chancellor of the University
ii. the President of the University
iii. the Vice-President of the University who is the Pro Vice-Chancellor;

b) six members elected by the Alumni Association of the University;

c) seventeen members appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council; and

d) two members appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council who are full-time students of the University.

The Senate

Matters of an academic character are in general charge of the Senate of the University, consisting of the following:

a) The Chancellor of the University;

b) ex-officio members who shall be

i. the President of the University, who shall be the chairman thereof,
ii. the Vice-President (Academic) of the University, who shall be the deputy chairman thereof,
iii. the Deputy Minister of Education or his delegate,
iv. the Principal of the Sir Wilfred Grenfell College,
v. the Deans of the Faculties of the University,
vi. the Dean of Graduate Studies,
vii. the University Librarian,
viii. the University Registrar, and
ix. such other persons holding office within the University or in any of the colleges or institutions affiliated with the University chosen in such number and manner as may be approved by the Board;

c) such members from the academic staff of the Faculties and Professional Schools of the University, exclusive of any person who is a member by virtue of paragraph (b), elected in such number and manner as may be approved by the Board, but the number elected under this paragraph shall be not less than twice the number of members named or chosen under paragraph (b); and

d) twelve members from the students in attendance at the University, to be chosen in a manner approved by the Board.


Convocation of the University, as provided in the Act, is composed of the Chancellor, the President, the Senate, the Board of Regents, all persons who are graduates of the Memorial University College, all persons holding academic appointments with the University whose names are added to the roll of the Convocation by the Registrar of the University from time to time upon instructions from the President, and all persons who have become graduates of the University. The functions of Convocation are chiefly elective, but it may also consider all questions affecting the well-being and prosperity of the University and make representations from time to time on such questions to the Senate, which shall consider the same and return to the Convocation its conclusions thereon.


The Act provides that, subject to the approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, the University may affiliate with any college or institution established in the province for the promotion of Arts and Science, or for instruction in Law, Medicine, Nursing, Education, Engineering, Agriculture or in any other useful branch of learning, and to dissolve any such affiliation. (The institution which has become affiliated with the University under this provision is Queen's College, St. John's).

Last modified on June 4, 2003 by R. Bruce

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