The University of St. Francis, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, was founded in 1885, under the name of St. Francis Xavier's College, by Rt. Rev. Dr. MacKinnon, Bishop of Arichat (now the Diocese of Antigonish ). A legislative enactment of 1866 empowered it to confer degrees. A statute of 1882 granted full university powers. The new charter (enacted in 1909) gave it all the powers, rights, and privileges that any university could reasonably demand from the State, including the right to confer all the usual university degrees, and to acquire and hold real and personal property to any value or extent whatsoever. The supreme governing body is a board of twelve governors, of which the Bishop of Antigonish is ex-officio chairman. There are at present (1912) twenty-five professors, lecturers, and tutors. In 1911-12 there were 356 students, the majority of whom came from the eastern provinces of Canada, the New England States, and Newfoundland, and a few from Western Canada, the Pacific States, and Great Britain. Four-year courses lead, respectively, to the degrees of Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Letters. After the sophomore year, excellent opportunities are given to students anxious to devote some of their time to special preparation for scientific pursuits, or for one of the professions. The course in philosophy extends over three years. A short course in law is given, which counts as a year for the degree of LL.B. in the Halifax Law School. The two-year course in engineering admits to the third-year class in any of the leading schools of engineering in Canada or the United States. Some university extension work has been done. Two summer sessions, five weeks each, have been held. Some of the courses were especialy designed to meet the needs of teachers in the public schools. Intended for the education of laymen as well as ecclesiastics, St. Francis Xavier's has given to the State many useful and brilliant men — judges, legislators, physicians, engineers, and to the Church a large number of priests and several bishops. Two archbishops and two other bishops are still living. The late Dr. Cameron, Bishop of Antigonish, and Dr. MacNiel, late Archbishop of Vancouver, are among the presidents whose learning, ability, and zeal have, despite many disadvantages, rendered service to the cause of Catholic education in Eastern Canada. The present Bishop of Victoria, Rt. Rev. Dr. Alexander MacDonald, was for nineteen years one of the professors.
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