The U4 League — Acadia, Bishop’s, Mount Allison, and St. Francis Xavier Universities — has announced the next step in its alliance: it is now known as the Maple League of Universities.
The U4 League was formed in May 2013 as an association of four small, residential, primarily undergraduate universities in three provinces committed to the model of liberal education and sharing a unique and extraordinary undergraduate learning experience.
“The Maple League brings together four of Canada’s most historic and prestigious universities in a united, co-operative enterprise,” says Mount Allison President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Robert Campbell. “We want to encourage young students to understand, and indeed to experience, the fact that our unique and differentiated schools offer Canada’s best undergraduate education.”
Working collaboratively allows the universities to expand the breadth and depth of the opportunities they provide for students. The Maple League has already undertaken a number of initiatives, including live streaming talks by Giller Prize-winning author Joseph Boyden, Nobel Prize-winner in physics Art McDonald, and Pulitzer-prize winning columnist Maureen Dowd to all four campuses and holding joint academic conferences and student competitions. The universities are also beginning to offer opportunities for students to take select courses hosted by other Maple League universities without leaving their own campuses.
There are plans to continue to live stream upcoming lectures and next spring each of the four Maple League universities will be offering a unique course open to students from all four universities.
Michael Goldbloom, Principal of Bishop’s University and Chair of the Maple League Presidents’ Group, says the Maple League universities have many things in common, including small, residential campuses that provide intimate learning environments. All four are also located in small towns, where students are able to become part of the local communities and contribute to them.
“We created the U4 League three years ago because we believed that by working together we could enhance the experiences of our students,” he says. “We believed that together we could be more effective at explaining our model of undergraduate education to prospective university students throughout Canada. We also created the U4 as a response to growing concerns—expressed by students, parents, educators and media commentators — about the deterioration of undergraduate education in Canada.”
Goldbloom explains that in many universities across the country, resources are focused on graduate studies with the consequence that most first-year university students frequently find themselves in large classes of 200, 300, or even 500 or more students, and much of the teaching is done by graduate students and contract faculty.
Maple League universities have smaller classes and more opportunities for students to interact with their professors and to work with them on research projects. All four ranked in the top ten in the primarily undergraduate category in Maclean’s magazine’s annual University Rankings.
“We believe that we offer the best undergraduate experiences in Canada and we are determined to get even better,” Goldbloom says. “We are confident that this alliance will continue to grow to the benefit of our students and to the benefit of higher education in Canada.”
For more information, visit the Maple League website at http://mapleleague.ca/
Photo caption: From left, Bishop's University Principal and Vice-Chancellor Michael Goldbloom, Acadia University President and Vice-Chancellor Ray Ivany, Mount Allison University President and Vice-Chancellor Robert Campbell, and St. Francis Xavier University President and Vice-Chancellor Kent MacDonald.