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Our History

Skating near the Quad (1960s)Skating near the Quad (1960s)

The University of Windsor’s exciting history and continued transformation

The story of our university began in September of 1857, when the first students arrived to study at its predecessor, Assumption College.

In the 160+ years since, the small Roman Catholic college gave rise to a non-denominational, comprehensive, teaching and learning university. More than 16,000 students attend the University of Windsor today and its alumni family boasts 100,000 members.

Here are some highlights that have marked our century and a half of academic achievement and excellence.

  • In September of 1857 Assumption College welcomed its first students.
  • By 1919, Assumption became one of the largest colleges associated with the University of Western Ontario.
  • In 1950, Assumption College welcomed its first women students.
  • On July 1, 1953, Assumption College ended its affiliation with the University of Western Ontario and obtained its own university powers through an Act of the Ontario Legislature.
  • In 1954 it was admitted to full membership in the National Conference of Canadian Universities and Colleges, to the University Articulation Board of Ontario, and to the Association of the British Commonwealth.
  • In 1956, the College changed its name to Assumption University by an Act of the Ontario Legislature and accepted as an affiliate the non-denominational Essex College, incorporated in 1954, which assumed responsibility for the Faculty of Applied Science, the Schools of Business Administration and Nursing, and the Departments of Biology, Chemistry, Geology and Geography, Mathematics, and Physics. Holy Redeemer College, the national seminary of the Redemptorist Fathers, located three miles off campus, also affiliated.
  • In 1957, Canterbury College, offering courses in Philosophy, Religious Knowledge and Mediaeval History, became the first Anglican college in the world to affiliate with a Roman Catholic University.
  • On December 19, 1962, the University of Windsor was incorporated by the Ontario Legislature, accepting Assumption University in Federation.
  • During 1963 and 1964, affiliation agreements were made with Holy Redeemer College, Canterbury College and the new Iona College (United Church of Canada).
  • On July 1, 1963, the University of Windsor became southwestern Ontario's first autonomous degree granting institution under the presidency of Rev. Eugene C. LeBel.
  • In 1964, Dr. J. Francis Leddy became President of the University of Windsor and presided over a period of explosive growth. It joined the International Association of Universities in June 1964, and from 1967-77, grew from approximately 1,500 to 8,000 full-time students.
  • The year 1988 marked the University of Windsor's 25th anniversary as a public institution.

    25th anniversary booklet and link to the online version

  • The 1980s and early 1990s continued this growth, particularly under the leadership of President Ron Ianni. Among the new buildings erected were the Odette Business Building and the CAW Student Centre.
  • Enrolment reached record heights in the fall of 2003 with the elimination of OAC, meaning both OAC and Grade 12 students converged on Ontario campuses in a double cohort. In response, then-President Ross Paul, who joined the university in 1998, invested more than $50 million in the new Alumni Hall student residence, the Anthony P. Toldo Health Education Centre, the Jackman Dramatic Art Centre, and classroom and lab upgrades.
  • Among the first official duties of current President Alan Wildeman, who took office in July 2008, was the formal opening of the Medical Education Building. An inaugural class of medical students began their classes in the state-of-the-art facility in the fall of 2008 and graduated as the “Charter Class” in May of 2012.
  • In May 2011, the University announced its plans to expand the campus into Windsor’s downtown core, moving into three historic buildings.  The City of Windsor donated the Armouries building, and gave an additional $10 million for refurbishment, in addition to a provincial investment of $15 million, which will transform the facility into multi-disciplinary space for the newly merged Schools of Music and Visual Arts. The former Greyhound bus depot, located directly across University Avenue from the Armouries, will receive a significant addition to become the new home of the film production program.
  • The Windsor Star building (formerly the site of Windsor’s newspaper) was reimagined as a new home for the School of Social Work and the Centre for Executive and Professional Education and opened its doors in September 2015.This important move has offered more adequate facilities and moved our students and faculty closer to the key constituencies they serve.
  • In summer 2012 construction began on an inter-disciplinary Innovation Centre and parking structure at the corner of Wyandotte and Sunset. Imagined as an extension of both the Centre for Engineering Innovation and the Odette School of Business, the Innovation Centre has created space for commercial activities. Designed as both an incubator and collaborative centre, this facility brings together academia and industry for mutual benefit. The parking structure consists of seven levels to accommodate up to 1,000 cars and now allows several surface lots across campus to be repurposed for future development or green space.
  • The Ed Lumley Centre for Engineering Innovation became the new home for the Faculty of Engineering in the fall of 2012. Spanning 300,000 square feet, the facility is equipped with more than 80 teaching and research labs – some with features never-before-seen in North America. The building features a 20,000 square ft. Industrial Courtyard, serving as the flagship of joint industry/academic research spaces across campus.
  • The year 2013 marked the University of Windsor's 50th anniversary as a public institution.

    Link to the 50th anniversary video
  • Today, the campus covers 51 hectares (125 acres), boasts more than 140 undergraduate and graduate programs across nine faculties for more than 16,000 full- and part-time students. It offers nine cooperative education programs for 1,100 students. More than 135,000 individuals around the world are proud to call the University of Windsor their alma mater.