In 1873, women didn’t have the right to vote in Canada, in fact women weren’t even “persons” yet under Canadian law.

But a group of Sisters from the Sisters of Charity Halifax knew that women deserved better and they were quietly breaking ground on the banks of the Bedford Basin creating opportunities for higher education for young women.

They were ahead of their time.

And their legacy lives on in a one-of-a-kind university that remains at the fore when it comes to challenging the status quo to make education accessible to underserved populations – and nurture socially responsible global citizens.

At an event on campus early in 2023, Robert Wright, a well-known and highly regarded social worker and community leader, perfectly described the essence of MSVU’s first 150 years when he said this: “The Mount was founded by the marginal at the margins and it has become an institution not only dedicated to the education of women, but to the education of world leaders from that unique perspective – of an institution that is sensitive to the situation and conditions of people who have lived on the margins.”

It’s only fitting that we’d mark such a legacy with a year of celebration and reflection. And what a year it has been!

Before we turn our attention entirely to our next 150 years, here’s a quick look back at how we marked the anniversary of our first 150.

On campus

150th anniversary launch event: The MSVU community gathered on January 24, 2023 to mark the start of 150th anniversary activities. The event opened with a presentation by musician, poet and professor Raymond Sewell, BA’08, of Pabineau First Nation, and Mi’kmaq dancer Jesse Benjamin of Eskasoni First Nation. It also featured reflections from a number of MSVU community members, including emcees Cheyenne Hardy and Dr. Derek Fisher; the Honourable Lena Metlege Diab, Member of Parliament for Halifax West; the Honourable Patricia Arab, BEd ’01, MLA for Fairview-Clayton Park; Sister Sheilagh Martin, PhD, professor emerita and member of the MSVU Board of Governors; and the Honourable Joanne Bernard, BA ‘96, then-President of the Mount Saint Vincent Alumni Association.

At the event, President Dickinson highlighted the importance of reflecting on all aspects of the university’s history – not just the successes. “While there is a lot to celebrate about MSVU’s tremendous impact, our history is not without its difficult parts, in particular our relationships with the Mi’kmaq People on whose land we reside,” she said. “These are aspects of our history that at this major milestone and into the future require our thoughtful reflection and reconciliation.”

musician, poet and professor Raymond Sewell, BA’08, of Pabineau First Nation, and Mi’kmaq dancer Jesse Benjamin of Eskasoni First Nation

150th visual identity: An anniversary of this significance calls for a fresh new look, and we were excited to roll-out a special 150th MSVU logo for 2023. It featured a modern sans-serif font and simplified crest with the number “150” front and centre. A toolkit of templates and materials was also rolled out at the start of 2023 featuring our 150th visuals.

Communication Studies and Co-op history wall: In November, Communication Studies and Co-op at MSVU celebrated the installation of a new history wall that illustrates significant communication studies and co-op milestones spanning nearly 50 years. You can still check-out this legacy piece on the third floor of the McCain Centre.

3 faculty and staff members from Communication Studies and Co-op standing in front of the new COMM Studies & Co-op History Wall

Time capsule opening (and cookies and Christmas cards!): In 1993, a time capsule was tucked behind a plaque on the second floor of Evaristus Hall to commemorate the opening of the Dr. Catherine Wallace Centre for Women in Science at MSVU. The plaque indicated that the time capsule was to be opened in 2023, the year of MSVU’s 150th anniversary. MSVU President Dr. Joël Dickinson joined Alumni Association President Penny Henneberry and MSVU’s archivist and records manager to crack open the time capsule – and we got it “on tape.” Watch the video of the time capsule opening here.

*One special item that was found in the time capsule was a recipe for oatmeal crisp cookies by the late Annemarie MacDonald. An alumna of the class of 1965, Annemarie was a long-time supporter of MSVU, including more than 20 years involvement with the Alumni Association board. She was famous for her oatmeal crisp cookies which she prepared almost daily.

Student research symposium: The Mount Saint Vincent University Research Office and Students’ Union hosted From Theory to Action: MSVU 150th Anniversary Student Research Symposium on November 24. This half-day event celebrated the outstanding research conducted by MSVU students and featured a diverse range of research presentations and keynote speeches, spotlighting a long history of MSVU student research excellence across disciplines.

Colours of Unity event: Led by Dr. Jeff MacLeod, Professor and Chair, Politics, Economics and Canadian Studies, and presented by CAIRT (Community for Arts-Informed Research and Teaching), this special event held in mid-October featured “visual art, poetry, music, spoken-word and drama highlighting the centrality of equity seeking voices and their impact on our current and historical culture.”

The Colors of Unity title event artwork. The text reads, "welcome to Colours of Unity, an inspiring afternoon of visual art, poetry, music, spoken-word and drama highlighting the centrality of equity seeking voices and their impact on our current and historical culture. Ptesented by CAIRT"

The Vintage fashion collection exhibit, held in the MSVU Art Gallery as part of the Family Studies & Gerontology and Applied Human Nutrition departmentsVintage fashion collection exhibit and reception: As part of the MSVU Art Gallery’s Community Show and MSVU’s 150th celebrations, the Family Studies & Gerontology and Applied Human Nutrition departments (initiative led by Dr. Dr. Deborah Norris and Prof. Linda Mann) showcased a vintage clothing collection – “a tangible symbol of a historic program aligned with the mission of Mount Saint Vincent University. The Mount’s Home Economics program, established in 1926 exemplified the historic and present-day focus on social justice in this institution and its commitment to supporting advanced education for women. While the program in its original form no longer exists, its influences have been retained within the vibrant current programs in Family Studies & Gerontology and Applied Human Nutrition.”

“The vintage clothing collection was used to teach the science of clothing construction, textiles and fashion design [by the Mount’s Home Economics program, established in 1926]. When the Home Economics programs ended, the collection was curated and archived by a former faculty member and was last seen in 2007 at an event commemorating the 80th anniversary of Home Economics and its current programs.”

Campus beautification: The Facilities Management team undertook a special campus beautification initiative to mark 150 years of MSVU in its green home on the hill. The gardens in front of the E. Margaret Fulton Communication Centre (or EMF), Seton Academic Centre, and the McCain Centre saw new stones, mulch and flowers introduced, as well as shrubs pruned – a simple, but charming transformation.

TEAM fundraiser – Tourism through the ages: In the spring of 2023, the Tourism Education Alliance of the Maritimes (TEAM) hosted its 8th annual fundraising evening in support of MSVU’s Tourism and Hospitality Management Program. The event brought together industry professionals and students for great food, company and music and brought to life a 150th anniversary theme of “Tourism Through the Ages.”

In the community

Halifax Bridge Commission logo installation: The Halifax Bridge Commission provided thousands of commuters a daily reminder of MSVU’s 150th anniversary all year long with the installation of a 150th MSVU logo on the grassy bank heading onto the McKay Bridge (Dartmouth bound).

the 150th MSVU logo on the grassy bank heading onto the McKay Bridge (Dartmouth bound).

Spotlighting our status quo challengers: In the fall of 2023, we put a special spotlight (through video, billboards, digital ads and more) on six MSVU community members who we dubbed our 150th anniversary status quo challengers. Check out their inspiring stories at

Welcoming Michelle Obama: MSVU joined with a number of other local organizations to host former First Lady Michelle Obama in Halifax this past October as part of our 150th anniversary celebrations. Our focus was on providing event access to underrepresented individuals. Through the HER Impact and Diversity Delegation programs, we made it possible for a diverse group of more than 700 girls, women, youth and emerging leaders to attend.

MSVU 150th anniversary gala: On November 2, 2023, 600+ local business, community and government leaders, friends of MSVU, donors, alumni, faculty, staff and students gathered for a sold-out gala at the Halifax Convention Centre. Hosted by MSVU President Dr. Joël Dickinson and emceed by CTV Morning Live host Ana Almeida, the event featured a series of special presentations that together told the unmatched story of MSVU. “The pride in MSVU as an institution that changed the face of education not just in Nova Scotia, but across Canada, was palpable at the anniversary gala,” said Dr. Joël Dickinson. “The event was a tremendous show of support.”

Special projects

Merchandise: Commemorative 150th anniversary swag was available for purchase from the Mount Bookstore this year, as unveiled at our launch event. The limited-edition anniversary memorabilia included sweatshirts, hoodies, t-shirts, ball-caps, reusable water bottles, keychains, mugs and more. If you don’t have yours already, there’s a very limited supply still available.

150th anniversary website: A new 150th anniversary website section launched on January 24, providing a hub for information of all kinds on MSVU’s 150th, including a robust historic timeline, an animated History of MSVU in 150 Seconds video, details of special events, stories, 150th merchandise, and more.

Timeline: The MSVU Library & Archives created an impressive interactive historical timeline of our past 150 years, including plenty of visuals from our archives. The timeline was revealed at our 150th launch event where attendees could interact with it through large digital screens.

Special Research Bulletin: The Research Office published a special 150th anniversary edition of its Research Bulletin this fall showcasing the ways in which research has helped shape MSVU’s history. From the establishment of the Research Office in 1974 to the present research chairs, centres and faculty researchers across campus, MSVU’s past and present feature much leading work by researchers helping improve lives across the lifespan. Read the online version of the 150th Special Edition Research Bulletin on Issuu.

Spotlight on MSVU’s first director of research: 150th Research Ambassador Elayna Foran sat down for an excellent interview with Dr. Wayne Ingalls who established the Research Office in 1974. Check out Elayna’s conversation with Dr. Ingalls here.

Sharing our stories

Dr Dorothy Wills, the photo is in greyscale with the msvu 150 crest beside the photo150 People Profiles: MSVU’s history is rich with the stories of countless people who’ve had an impact on the university and in the broader community. To mark our 150th anniversary, we’ve featured mini stories about these wonderful MSVU students, faculty, staff and alum. Read all their stories on the MSVU 150 website.

The history of MSVU in 150 seconds: How do you pack 150 years of history into 150 seconds? You speak very quickly. 😊 To make sure our community understood key parts of our history, we started our anniversary year by featuring a video that tells the story of MSVU’s 150 years of history in a quick 150 seconds.

Gala video series – A series of special video presentations punctuated the night at MSVU’s 150th anniversary gala, bringing to life all that is unique about MSVU. If you haven’t seen them, they are worth a watch:
a video snapshot of 150 years of MSVU history (featuring, among other highlights, notable firsts at the Mount);
– a video spotlight of the MSVU’s 150th anniversary “status quo challengers”;
a video presentation demonstrating how removing barriers to create access can have immeasurable impact (featuring the words of MSVU alum and honorary degree recipient The Honourable Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard).

CBC radio feature – CBC Radio’s Mainstreet marked International Women’s Day by putting a special spotlight on MSVU’s 150th anniversary and the university’s ground breaking work in the advancement of women. President Emerita Dr. Ramona Lumpkin was interviewed.

Oral histories project – The oral histories project aims to preserve the rich history of the Mount through the stories of esteemed alumni. Still a work in progress by the Alumni Relations team, the project will feature recordings from diverse alumni spanning our history. Stay tuned!

Fundraising: In support of students

MSVU 150 Fund: Access and Impact – With a view to a future filled with more students who have access to a life-changing MSVU education, the MSVU 150 Fund: Access & Impact was established to mark the university’s milestone anniversary. The fund in support of MSVU students current and future will enable the university to open doors to education for those who face barriers, and nurture socially responsible global citizens by emphasizing social justice and EDIA. Donations continue to come in!

1873 society launch – On June 8, the 1873 Society at MSVU (though founded some years ago) came together for a formal launch and its first official gathering. The society is a legacy-giving club for donors, alumni and friends who support MSVU and its students. The event was held to celebrate MSVU donors and thank those who have pledged to generously support the university through their long-term estate plans.

The 1873 Society, with Dr Joël Dickinson, and the MSVU 150 Banner, standing beside the society members


MSVU’s 150th anniversary was noted in both the House of Commons and NS Legislature on more than one occasion last year. In November, Minister of Education the Honourable Brian Wong welcomed Dr. Dickinson, AVP of University Relations Kelly Gallant, and professor and Sister of Charity Dr. Sheilagh Martin to the NS Legislature for special recognition of the 150th. As well, The Honourable Patricia Arab, MLA for Fairview-Clayton Park, noted the launch of the university’s anniversary year in the legislature earlier in 2023. From Ottawa, both The Honourable Lena Metlege Diab, MP for Halifax West, and Senator Jane Cordy made special note of MSVU’s anniversary and tremendous legacy.

Minister of Education the Honourable Brian Wong welcoming Dr. Dickinson, at the Nova Scotia Legisature