University of Western Ontario

University of Western Ontario
Latin: Universitas Occidentis Ontariensis
Former names
Western University of London, Ontario
MottoLatin: Veritas et Utilitas
Motto in English
Truth and usefulness
EstablishedMarch 7, 1878
Academic affiliations
Fields Institute
EndowmentC$746.5 million[1]
BudgetC$754.2 million[2]
ChancellorLinda Hasenfratz
PresidentAlan Shepard
Academic staff
Location, ,
CampusUrban, 455 hectares (1,120 acres)[6]
ColoursPurple and white[7]
AthleticsU Sports
MascotJW the Mustang[8]
University of Western Ontario Logo.svg

The University of Western Ontario (UWO), corporately branded as Western University as of 2012 and commonly shortened to Western, is a public research university in London, Ontario, Canada. The main campus is on 455 hectares (1,120 acres) of land, surrounded by residential neighbourhoods and the Thames River bisecting the campus's eastern portion. The university operates twelve academic faculties and schools. It is a member of the U15, a group of research-intensive universities in Canada.

The university was founded on 7 March 1878 by Bishop Isaac Hellmuth of the Anglican Diocese of Huron as the Western University of London, Ontario. It incorporated Huron University College, which had been founded in 1863. The first four faculties were Arts, Divinity, Law and Medicine. The Western University of London became non-denominational in 1908. Beginning in 1919, the university has affiliated with several denominational colleges. The university grew substantially in the post-World War II era, as a number of faculties and schools were added to university.

Western is a co-educational university, with more than 24,000 students, and with over 306,000 living alumni worldwide. Notable alumni include government officials, academics, business leaders, Nobel Laureates, Rhodes Scholars, and distinguished fellows. Western's varsity teams, known as the Western Mustangs, compete in the Ontario University Athletics conference of U Sports.


A plaque at St. George and St. James Street at the former location of Western's campus, from 1895 to 1924.

The university was founded on 7 March 1878 by Bishop Isaac Hellmuth of the Anglican Diocese of Huron as The Western University of London Ontario, and its first chancellor was Chief Justice Richard Martin Meredith.[9] It incorporated Huron College, which had been founded in 1863.[10] The first four faculties were Arts, Divinity, Law and Medicine (London Medical College).[11] There were originally only 15 students when classes began in 1881.[12][9]

Although the university was incorporated in 1878, it was not until 20 June 1881 that it received the right to confer degrees in Arts, Divinity and Medicine. In 1882, the name of the university was revised to The Western University and College of London, Ontario.[13] The first convocation of graduates was held on 27 April 1883.[11] Initially affiliated with the Church of England,[13] Western became non-denominational in 1908.

In 1916, the university's current site was purchased from the Kingsmill family. There are two World War I memorial plaques in University College. The first lists the 19 students and graduates of the University of Western Ontario who lost their lives; the second honours the men from Middlesex County who died.[14][15] A third plaque lists those who served with the No. 10 Canadian General hospital during WWII, the unit raised and equipped by UWO.[15]

University College in June 1924. Opened in 1924, it was one of the first buildings to be completed at the present campus.

In 1923, the university was renamed The University of Western Ontario.[9] The first two buildings constructed by architect John Moore and Co. at the new site were the Arts Building (now University College) and the Natural Science Building (now the Physics and Astronomy Building).[16] Classes on the university's present site began in 1924.[17] The University College tower, one of the university's most distinctive features, was named the Middlesex Memorial Tower in honour of the men from Middlesex County who fought in World War I.

In 1919, the Ursuline Sisters had established Brescia College as a Roman Catholic affiliate, and in the same year Assumption College in Windsor affiliated with the university; it evolved into the University of Windsor in 1953.[10][18] Before the end of the affiliation, Assumption College was one of the largest colleges associated with the university. Similarly, Waterloo College of Arts became affiliated with Western in 1925;[10][19] which eventually became today, the Wilfrid Laurier University (1960), emphasizing liberal arts, and the University of Waterloo, emphasizing engineering and science. St. Peter's College seminary of London, Ontario was later became affiliated with Western in 1939, and it became King's College, an arts college.[10] Today, King's, Huron and Brescia colleges are all still affiliates of Western.

Two World War II memorial honour rolls are hung on the Physics and Astronomy Building: the first lists the UWO students and graduates who served in the Second World War, and the second lists those who served with the No. 10 Canadian General hospital during WWII, the unit raised and equipped by UWO.[15]

University College tower was used as the logo of Western prior to its re-brand, from 1998 to 2012.

Although enrollment was relatively small for many years, the university began to grow after World War II. It added a number of faculties in the post-war period, such as the Faculty of Graduate Studies (1947), the School of Business Administration (now the Ivey Business School) (1949),[20] the Faculty of Engineering Science (now the Faculty of Engineering) (1957), the Faculty of Law (1959), and Althouse College for education students (now the Faculty of Education) (1963)[citation needed] and the Faculty of Music (1968).[21]

In 2012, the university rebranded itself as "Western University" to give the school less of a regional or even national identity. "We want to be international," president Dr. Amit Chakma told The Globe and Mail. The university's legal name, however, remains "The University of Western Ontario" and is used on transcripts and diplomas.[22]

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