The Baptists first sent missionaries to southwestern Manitoba in 1869 and settlers began to arrive in the area after 1871. Both settlers and missionaries soon saw a need for a denominational college for Manitoba youth and several attempts to found a college were made. In 1880, Dr. John Crawford and Rev. G. B. Davis opened Prairie College in Rapid City, 20 miles (32 km) north of Brandon. The College failed and Rev. Davis founded a small academy in Rapid City that was subsequently taken over by his brother-in-law, Prof. S. J. McKee. McKee’s Academy was moved to Brandon in 1890 following the projection of the CPR mainline through the Assiniboine Valley that resulted in the marked growth of the city of Brandon
As early as 1885 the Baptist Convention of Manitoba and the Northwest Territories responded to this need. Brandon College was established in Brandon, Man, in 1889 by the Baptist Union of Western Canada, and was affiliated with McMaster University. In 1898 a Toronto industrialist, Mr. William Davies, and his sister-in-law, Mrs. Emily Davies, pledged $25,000 to be used to establish a Baptist College in Brandon. Plans moved ahead rapidly.
The Convention appointed Dr. A. P. McDiarmid as principal of Brandon College in 1899. Prof. McKee’s Academy was merged into the new institution and the quarters of the Academy in the Stewart Black on Rosser Avenue at Ninth Street continued to be used. On July 13, 1900, Mrs. Davies laid the cornerstone of the first new building located at the corner of 18th Street and Lorne Avenue, part of the present campus. The Brandon Bell and was named after Brandon Bell II, the principal donor. These now serve as the administration buildings of Brandon University.
Brandon College, built 1900-01 and the adjoining Clark Hall (1905–06) designed by William Alexander Elliott (architect) a 3½-storey brick and stone complex are on the Registry of Historic Places of Canada Brandon College was a liberal arts college offering some work in theology, a high school department, and a commercial department. A school of music was added in 1906.
When the Baptist Church withdrew its support in 1938 for financial reasons, the college became non-denominational. During the college’s affiliation with McMaster University, 1911–1938, the School of Music graduate diplomas in voice and piano attained a national reputation. Following affiliation with the University of Manitoba in 1938, music courses as credit to B.A. and B.Sc. degrees were added. Brandon College offered the first B.Mus. program in Manitoba in 1963. The School of Music includes one of the few conservatory departments in Canada and offers high quality private tutoring.
More than 200 Brandon College students served in the First World War including two winners of the Victoria Cross. The college sent a platoon with the Western Universities Battalion to France in 1916. Class enrollments dwindled as students joined the services resulting in the absence of males in the freshman class. In 1922 the Science Building was opened but an economic slump kept the building from being completed according to the original specifications. The Bachelor of Science degree was added in 1939.
Commercial courses were discontinued in 1922 and the theology department was replaced by the inclusion of religious studies in the arts curriculum in 1928. In 1932, the Grade 9, 10 and 11 work of the academy, which had formed part of the college, was discontinued. Grade 12 Department of Education courses were introduced and continued until 1955. In 1938, the Baptist Union of Western Canada found that it was no longer able to support Brandon College. An exceptional display of interest, hard work and generosity on the part of citizens of western Manitoba kept the college open. Brandon College became a non-denominational corporation in that year, ending its affiliation with McMaster University, and joining the University of Manitoba as an affiliated college. Four sources of revenue allowed the work of the college to be continued: public subscription; an endowment (which became a foundation in 1945) by Dr. A. E. McKenzie, owner of a Brandon seed firm; a tax levy from the City of Brandon; and an annual grant from the provincial government. Support from each of these has continued but has changed in proportion over the years.
The C.O.T.C. program, which had been dropped after the First World War, was revived to meet the challenge of World War II and 234 Brandon College students served in Canada’s armed forces during 1939-45. Enrolment was cut sharply but new bursaries and scholarships were introduced and many students worked their way through Brandon College during this period. At this point, there were 14 faculty members and approximately 100 students. During the late 1940s, the social sciences were introduced at Brandon College. Training for high school teachers was added in 1952 and expanded to include training for elementary teachers in 1955. The Bachelor of Training program was added in 1969 and the first graduates of the program received their degrees in 1971. In the late 1950s, a national program of university and college expansion gave rise to a sharply increased growth at Brandon college both in numbers of students and faculty and the building of new facilities. The Arts and Library Building, later named the A. E. McKenzie Building in honour of a chief benefactor of the college, and the J. R. C. Evans Lecture Theatre, named in honour of former Brandon College President, Dr. J. R. C. Evans, were officially opened in 1961. In 1962, the steam plant, Darrach Hall (men’s residence), and the dining hall were completed. Added in 1963 were the Music Building and Flora Cowan Hall (women’s residence). The Brandon University Gymnasium was opened in 1965.
A Manitoba Historical Plaque was erected in Brandon, Manitoba by the province to commemorate Brandon College's role in Manitoba's heritage.
In 1967 it attained university status and became Brandon University by the Brandon University Act. Brandon University received its charter on June 5, 1967, on the occasion of the visit of Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra and the Honourable Angus Ogilvy. Brandon University currently has enrollment of 3,098 and a faculty of 220 (September 30, 2002). The Education Building was opened in 1967 and the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium in 1969. A ten story, high-rise residence, McMaster Hall, for men and women, was opened in the fall of 1971. The Jeff Umphrey Memorial Centre for Mental Retardation opened in the fall of 1971 and housed a bookstore, bank, and a day centre as well as the research centre on mental disability.
The J. R. Brodie Science Centre was opened officially in May 1972, although classes were held there during the 1971-72 school year. There are facilities for the departments of chemistry, physics, botany, zoology, geology, geography, mathematics and computer science, and psychology. In early 1980, the Master of Music Degree Program was approved and in September 1980, the Applied Program commenced. The Master of Music (Education) commenced in September 1981. In November 1983, a sod-turning ceremony was held initiating the beginning of the new Music Building erected to the south of the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium and west of the Arts and Library Building. In October, 1984, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II officially named the structure the “Queen Elizabeth II Music Building”. Members of the Music faculty moved into the new building during the summer of 1985 and classes were held there in the fall.
In September 1986, classes commenced in the Department of Nursing and Health Studies program with 2-Year Post-Diploma Baccalaureate Degrees in Nursing and Mental Health. In 1990, the University introduced a major in Business Administration in the Faculty of Arts. Brandon University received its second masters program when the Masters of Education program was approved in 1990. In 1991, a minor in Women’s Studies was approved in the Faculty of Arts. In 1993, a minor in Aboriginal Art was approved. In September 1996, the 4-Year Bachelor of Science in Psychiatric Nursing was offered for the first time. Beginning in the fall of 1994, the renovation and reconstruction of Clark Hall and the Brandon College Building, with the retention of the original façade, was initiated. This historic project was completed in the spring of 1997. Currently, faculty and administration occupy the new structure and classes are being held in the new large classrooms in the renovated buildings. In 1997, the School of Health Studies was established and the 4-Year Bachelor of Business Administration was offered for the first time. In 1998, both a Masters program in Rural Development and a bachelor’s program in First Nations and Aboriginal Counselling was launched.
In 1999, the University celebrated its centennial with the community at-large. To mark the occasion, both university and community members helped to excavate Prairie College, the university’s original Baptist site. The Applied Disaster and Emergency Studies program that adopts a Liberal Arts and Science approach to foster an appreciation for the interdisciplinary nature of this field was initiated in the fall of 2001. May 2002 marked the sod-turning ceremony for the new Health Studies Complex that celebrated its grand opening on September 19, 2003. The new building currently houses the School of Health Studies and the First Nations and Aboriginal Counselling program. The Health Studies Complex was uniquely designed to include a large round room equipped for holding traditional ceremonies performed by First Nations and Métis students.
The Bachelor of Environmental Science program, approved in December 2002, was implemented in September 2003. In May 2003, the Manitoba Council On Post Secondary Education (COPSE) approved the four-year Creative Arts program and in June approved the Bachelor of Fine Arts Program. Both programs commenced in the fall of 2003. In September 2005, COPSE approved the expansion of Brandon University's Rural and Community Studies Program to include four-year honours, four-year major, and four-year minor Bachelor of Arts degrees, in addition to the three-year BA program already being offered in this subject area. With the addition of these degree programs, students can pursue Rural and Community studies from an undergraduate to Master's level at the university.
In September 2008, after contract negotiations between the university's faculty and administration, a 17-day strike ensued. Contract negotiations broke down again in the fall of 2011, resulting in a 45-day strike by university faculty members.
In 2013, the university opened a new Healthy Living Centre athletics facility to host the Bobcats and to provide fitness facilities for students, faculty, staff and the community. It includes a large indoor walking track and was built on the site of the former Kinsmen Memorial Stadium.Faculty of Arts
Aboriginal and Visual Arts, Anthropology, Business Administration, Drama, Economics, English, Gender and Women's Studies, History, Classical and Modern Languages, Native Studies, Philosophy, Political Science, Religion, Rural Development, Sociology
Faculty of Education
Administration and Educational Services, Curriculum & Instruction: Humanities, Curriculum & Instruction: Math/Science, Department of Educational Psychology and Foundations, Physical Education, Music Education, Graduate Studies
Faculty of Graduate Studies
Graduate Diploma in Education, Master in Education, Music Graduate Program, Master of Psychiatric Nursing, Master in Rural Development, Graduate Diploma in Rural Development
Faculty of Science
Applied Disaster & Emergency Studies, Biology (Botany & Zoology discontinued in 2009), Chemistry, Environmental Science, Geography, Geology, Mathematics and Computer Science, Physics and Astronomy, Psychology
Faculty of Health Studies
Nursing, Psychiatric Nursing, Mental Health, Indigenous Health and Human Services, First Nations and Aboriginal Counselling
School of Music
Honours (General Studies), Performance, Education, Jazz Studies, Graduate Studies in Performance, Music Education and Composition
Rural Development Institute (RDI)
Environmental Science Laboratories
Micro Analytical Facility
Study of Cultural Adaptations in the Prairie Ecozone (SCAPE)
Brandon University Centre for Aboriginal and Rural Education (BU CARES)
Bachelor of Arts (BA)
Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)
Bachelor of Education (BEd)
Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)
Bachelor of First Nations and Aboriginal Counselling (BFNAC)
Bachelor of Music (BMus)
Bachelor of Nursing (BN)
Bachelor of Science (BSc)
Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science (BSES)
Bachelor of Science in Psychiatric Nursing (BScPN)
Master of Education (MEd)
Master of Music (MMus)
Masters of Rural Development (MRD)
Master in Psychiatric Nursing
Master of Science in Environmental and Life Sciences (MELS)
Graduate Diploma in Rural Development (GRD)
Post Diploma in Mental Health (BScMN)
Brandon University Hutterite Education Program (BUHEP)
Program for the Education of Native Teachers (PENT)
Community Based Education (CBE)
Brandon University Northern Teacher Education Program (BUNTEP)
The university's sports teams in U Sports are called the Brandon Bobcats. Brandon University competes in basketball (men/women) and volleyball (men/women). Brandon University used to field a men's hockey team in the CIAU, however, that ceased in 2000.
In the 2006-07 academic year, the Bobcats advanced to the Canadian Basketball Finals. They placed second to Carleton University, in a hard fought 52-49 game.
In 2016, the Bobcats hosted the CIS National Women's Volleyball Championship.
Brandon University provides services in more remote communities. Aboriginal Elders are present on campus at Brandon University to provide social supports.Chancellor - Mr. Michael Decter
President and Vice Chancellor - Dr. Gervan Fearon
Vice President Academic & Provost - Steven Robinson
Vice President Administration & Finance - Mr. Scott Lamont
Arts - Dr. Demetrios Tryphonopoulos
Education - Dr. Heather Duncan
Graduate Studies - Dr. Demetrios Tryphonopoulos
Health Studies - Dr. Dean Care
Music - Greg Gatien
Science - Dr. Austin Gulliver (Acting)
Brandon University students are represented by the Brandon University Students' Union (BUSU). BUSU represents undergraduate, graduate, and distance students. BUSU is a member of the Canadian Federation of Students, local 37. The current BUSU executive is:Nick Brown - President
Jillian Vanderheiden - Vice President Internal
Greg Monias - Vice President External
Michael Decter (2013–present)
Henry Champ (2009–2012)
Edward Schreyer (2002–2008)
Kevin Kavanagh (1996–2002)
Ronald D. Bell (1991–1996)
Stanley Knowles (1970–1990)
Maitland Steinkopf (1967–1970)
Dr. Gervan Fearon (2014–present)
Dr. Deborah Poff (2009–2014)
Dr. Louis Visentin (2000–2009)
Dr. Dennis Anderson (1990–2000)
Dr. John Mallea (1985–1990)
Dr. E. J. Tyler (1984–1985)
Dr. Harold J. Perkins (1977–1983)
Dr. Lloyd Dulmage (1970–1977)
Dr. R.F.B. King (1969-1970, acting-president)
Dr. John E. Robbins (1967–1969, president Brandon University)
Dr. John E. Robbins (1960–1967, president Brandon College)
Dr. H.S. Perdue (1959-1960, acting president)
Henry Champ, Canadian broadcast journalist
Tommy Douglas, the father of medicare and The Greatest Canadian (as voted on by CBC viewers)
Dr. Stanley Knowles, New Democratic Party Member of Parliament
Brian Pallister, former Conservative Party of Canada Member of Parliament, Manitoba MLA and Premier of Manitoba
Neil Robertson, Mathematician known for the Robertson–Seymour theorem
John W.M. Thompson, Manitoba MLA and Provincial Cabinet Minister
Paul Martin, 21st Prime Minister of Canada
Randy Bachman of The Guess Who and Bachman–Turner Overdrive
Sharon Carstairs, Senator and former leader of the Liberal Party of Manitoba
Henry Champ, Washington correspondent for CBC
Tom Cochrane of Red Rider
Burton Cummings of The Guess Who
Shirley Douglas, daughter of Tommy Douglas
James Ehnes, Violin Virtuoso
Fred Penner, children's entertainer
Miriam Toews, author
The Honourable Tommy Douglas
Dr. Stanley Knowles
The Honourable Justice Ronald D. Bell
Dr. C. Dennis Anderson
The University joined Project Hero, a scholarship program cofounded by General (Ret'd) Rick Hillier, for the families of fallen Canadian Forces members.
The Government of Canada sponsors an Aboriginal Bursaries Search Tool that lists over 680 scholarships, bursaries, and other incentives offered by governments, universities, and industry to support Aboriginal post-secondary participation. Brandon University scholarships for Aboriginal, First Nations and Métis students include: Maria Ross Scholarship; Isabelle Douglas Estate Scholarships; Manitoba Blue Cross George J. Strang Scholarship; Gerdau MRM Steel Inc. Annual Scholarship; Donna and Bill Parrish Scholarship for Aboriginal Students; Scotiabank Scholarships for Aboriginal students in financial need; Manitoba Industry, Economic Development and Mines Bursaries in Geology; First Nations Teacher Education Scholarships; Manitoba Citizens' Bursary Fund for Aboriginal Peoples; Louis Riel Institute Bursaries; Manitoba Hydro Employment Equity Bursary.