History of the Faculty of Science

Designed by Arthur A Stoughton, Head of the School of Architecture,
the Science building (renamed theBuller building in 1963) was open for classes in 1932.
(Photo courtesy of the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections, PC 80 A83-052 006 0322 005)

revised 13 January 2012

The first six professors appointed by the University of Manitoba were all members of the Science faculty.  They were hired in 1904, and it marked the first time teaching would be carried out by university-appointed rather than college-appointed, instructors. In 1921, a combined Faculty of Arts and Science was formed, and instruction was provided in undergraduate courses in both Arts and Science and to a limited extent, graduate studies.

Science became a separate faculty in 1970, and this year, 2010, marks it's 40th anniversary.  The Faculty of Science is now a comprehensive teaching and research Faculty, with over 200 academic and support staff members in seven departments, two institutes, and numerous formal and informal research groups. The Faculty offers a full slate of graduate and undergraduate degree programs, in the biological, physical, and computational sciences.

The following table presents a brief synopsis of our history.

1877 The University of Manitoba is founded by an Act of the Provincial Legislature on February 28th 1877.  
1897 The Province of Manitoba lends the University $60,000 to build and equip a science building on Broadway Avenue.  The government will pay an annual grant of $6,000 for teaching.  The building is completed in 1901.  
1898 The McIntyre Block, which had been rented and outfitted with science classrooms and laboratories, is gutted by fire on February 2nd, 1898.  
1900 Amendments are made to the University Act allowing the University to hire professors.  This is the beginning of the shift from an examining to a teaching institution.  The University Council appoints three half-time academics, (George Bryce, Edgar B. Kenrick, and George Jackson Laird), from the colleges, to teach science.  
1904 University Council votes to hire its first six professors, all science professors, at annual salaries of $2,500.  
1906 The first group of seven students to receive a B.A. in Natural Sciences graduates.  
1907 Understanding the importance of keeping the University in the public eye, the professors (first six) offer a series of public lectures in Winnipeg.  An admission of $.50 was charged.  
1909 The annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science is held in Winnipeg.  It has been argued that it was the most important scientific meeting ever held in Winnipeg.   
1912 University Council introduces a new Honours course leading to the degree Bachelor of Science.  Before this development, students in Natural Sciences received the Bachelor of Arts.  
1916 The first B.Sc. degree is awarded to Ezra Allen Thompson.  
1921 The University is re-organized into three faculties: Arts & Science, Engineering and Medicine.  William Tier, Mathematics, is appointed first Dean of Arts and Science (1921-1936).  
1925 Enrollment for the University in all areas is the same as the year: 1925.  
1927 Enrollment at the University is now 3,456, which makes it the third largest university in Canada in enrollment numbers. The University is still located in temporary buildings on the Broadway site.  
1929 The Government decides to assist the University in building on the large riverside acreage beyond the southern edge of the city on the site of the College of Agriculture, now known as the Fort Garry Campus.  
1930 The first Ph.D. in the Department of Physics is awarded to Patrick A. MacDonald.  MacDonald spent his entire career working at the Cancer Relief and Research Institute.  Much of his work is on the utility of irradiation in the treatment of Cancer.  
1932 The new Arts and Science buildings are completed on the Fort Garry campus.  The buildings are now known as the Tier and Buller buildings.  
1945 The postwar period is one of tremendous growth and universities educating returning veterans face the challenges of expansion.  In the 1950s it is common to find three faculty members sharing an office.  
1950 In May 1950, the Province and the University suffers one of the most devastating floods in recent history.  With the Red River on three sides of the campus, the rising water is soon several feet above ground level, and the Fort Garry campus is evacuated.  
1958 The University gets a Bendix computer, the fifth university in Canada to own such a powerful resource.  It is called Jasper.  
1959 The construction of the University of Manitoba Cyclotron begins under the parking lot adjacent to the Allen building. 
1961 The newly constructed Allen (physics), Parker (chemistry) and Armes (lecture) buildings open.  
1963 The Science building is renovated and is now fully devoted to biological sciences.  The building is renamed the Buller Biological Laboratories.  
1964 The libraries introduce a photocopy service.  
1965 The University requires a grade 12 standing in University Entrance courses as an admission requirement.
The fourth floors are added to the Allen and Parker buildings to accommodate expansion in the departments.
First-year Science courses are offered via television to students in especially equipped classrooms.  
The Faculty of Arts and Science is divided into the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Science.  Science becomes an independent faculty on July 1st, 1970 comprised of the following departments and unit: Applied Mathematics, Botany, Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth Sciences, Mathematics, Microbiology, Physics, Statistics, Zoology and the Biology Teaching Unit.  
Robert Connor becomes the 1st Dean of the Faculty of Science.  
James Jamieson, Chemistry, works with the development of a fractionation unit to assist Jack Bowman in his goal in developing a new method of preparing anti-Rh immunoglobin locally.  
The Zoology Department moves into the Duff Roblin building.  
The Faculty of Science makes 27 new faculty appointments.  Because of the growth in student numbers, the University begins recruiting professors internationally.  The Faculty of Science has 170 faculty members and 1,900 students.  
1972 Machray Hall, named after the University’s first Chancellor, opens.   
Three centres are opened in the Facutly of Science to provide students with out-of-class help, they are the Calculus Crisis Centre, the Resource Centre in Chemistry and the Tutorial System in Physics.
1974 The Department of Applied Mathematics is created.
1975 The Continuing Education Division is created in July, 1975.  From 1949-1975, the Extension Division was responsible for most Universtiy non-credit courses.  The newly created Division is given further responsibility for credit extension programs, including Summer Session, correspondence courses, off-campus credit courses, Canadian Armed Forces Program and Special Mature Students program.
1979 Charles Bigelow is appointed the 2nd Dean of Science.  
1989 Harley Cohen is appointed the 3rd Dean of Science.  
1991 The Environmental Science Program is established in the Faculty of Science  
1994  James Jamieson is appointed the 4th Dean of Science.
1995 The Faculty of Science celebrates 25 years as an independent faculty.
With the creation of University 1, prospective Science students take their first year of studies in University 1.  
All University of Manitoba students are now required to complete a minimum of one 3 credit hour course with significant content in mathematics.  By 2001, the Mathematics Department becomes the largest department in Science with considerable resources devoted to teaching.  
1998 The two departments "Mathematics and Astronomy" and "Applied Mathematics" were reconfigured into "The Department of Mathematics" consisting of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics.  Astronomy transfered to Physics to become the "Department of Physics and Astronomy."
2003 In September 2003, Senate and the Board of Governors approves the structure for a new faculty thereby moving the Department of Geological Sciences to what was to become the Clayton H. Riddell Faculty of Environment, Earth, and Resources.  
Mark Whitmore is appointed the 5th Dean of Science  
Increases in enrollment create the necessity of imposing enrolment caps in courses.  Enrolment for the year is 2,847, an increase of 25% over the past five years.  
The Department of Computer Science moves to the new EITC (Engineering and Information Technology Complex).  
Undergraduate enrollment in the Faculty of Science increases to 3,011.  
2006 Major renovations to the physical structure of the Buller Building begin.  The renovations are expected to continue until at least 2011.  
The University drops Grade 12 (Senior 4) Mathematics as a University entrance requirement. 
The Departments of Botany and Zoology and the Introductory Biology Unit merge to form the Department of Biological Sciences effective July 1st, 2007.  
2008 The instrumentation in the new teaching and research facility MCAL (Manitoba Chemical Analysis Laboratory) makes it one of the best undergraduate labs in Canada.  The cost of the facility is $1M.  
2009 On Saturday, March 28th, 2009, the Duff Roblin Building suffers significant damage due to a fire.  All occupants are safely evacuated.  The restoration of the building, originally estimated between $2-3M climbs to $40-60M.  All building occupants have to be relocated during the recovery and reconstruction efforts.   
2012 January 27, 2012 the Biological Sciences Building (BSB) (former Pharmacy building) is opened along with the redeveloped Buller Building.  The Buller Building redevelopment was a 10-year undertaking.  Premier Greg Selinger, pictured at right, was among the speacial guests.  

Many thanks to the staff of the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections for their help with the many details of this project. 

The following sources have been invaluable in assembling the information for this web site.

Bumsted, J.M. (2001). The University of Manitoba: An illustrated history. Winnipeg: The University of Manitoba Press.
Connor, R.D. (2004).  The expanding world of physics at Manitoba: A hunderd years of progress.  Winnipeg: Department of Physics and Astronomy.
Duckworth, Harry W., & Goldsborough, L. Gordon. (2004). Science comes to Manitoba.  Manitoba History, 47(Spring/Summer): 2-16.