1960s: Into the Future

Dillon Hall 1963

With the monumental affiliations and changes to Assumption University in the 1950s, it would have to make even more drastic changes and expand further to accommodate Windsor’s growth. By 1962, a sub-committee between Assumption and Essex College was established to deal with this necessary expansion [1]. Early on in its proceedings, this committee concluded that in order to “solve the problems facing Assumption University” and “to prepare it to meet the future needs of the citizens of Windsor/Essex County,” a new university would need to be created [2]. An article in the September 28, 1962 issue of the Detroit Free Press outlines the reasons for the creation of this new university, as it would allow Assumption University to expand the amount student enrollments from maximum 2,500 to 5,000, receive governmental tax support as it would be nondenominational, and avoid the financial burden of expanding by itself [3]. This new institution, the University of Windsor, would alter Assumption University but continue its long history of providing post-secondary education to the Windsor area. 

University of Windsor 1963

On December 19, 1962 the University of Windsor was incorporated by an Act of the Ontario Legislature, one that would accept Assumption University in federation and maintain its own existence within the control of University of Windsor [4]. With the creation of this “new non-denominational university,” the facilities and faculty of Assumption University were incorporated into the University of Windsor, with LeBel, Assumption’s President, becoming the University of Windsor’s first President and Vice-Chancellor, and DeMarco, the Principal of Essex College, becoming the University of Windsor’s Vice-President [5].

On July 1, 1963, a very different celebration for Canada’s Dominion Day ensued, as the University of Windsor was granted control of the campus, making it southwestern Ontario’s first autonomous degree-granting institution [6]. This Act resulted in Essex College’s merger with the University of Windsor, therefore ending its existence as a separate entity and making DeMarco Essex College’s first and only Principal [7]. From 1963 to 1964, the new University of Windsor kept with its heritage as Assumption University, receiving affiliations with Holy Redeemer College, Canterbury College, and Iona College (United Church of Canada) [8]. Assumption University’s degree-granting powers were only retained for theology, but is still to this day, the only university federated with the University of Windsor [9]. LeBel assumed the role of President of the University of Windsor for only one year to aid in the transition, with John Francis Leddy taking over in 1964, ushering in a new era for the University of Windsor that would see massive growth, joining the International Association of Universities in June 1964 and growing from 1,500 to 8,000 full-time students in 1967 [10].  

Despite the end of Assumption University’s tenure as an independent institution, the development of the University of Windsor, “a non-denominational provincial university,” out of “a historic Roman Catholic university” was unprecedented and still stands as a great achievement for a university with such humble roots [11]. Today, Assumption University is the only university federated with the University of Windsor, with Canterbury College and Iona College still affiliated, while Holy Redeemer College and Essex College are defunct [12]. Despite its merger with the University of Windsor, Assumption University still continues today as a religious-based university, emphasizing local and international efforts and its central motto of “Teach me Goodness, Discipline, and Knowledge” that have existed since its origins almost 300 years ago. 

Assumption College 1963

[1] DeMarco, 38. 
[2] DeMarco, 38. 
[3] “College Expansion Plan is Proposed for Windsor,” Detroit Free Press (1923-1999), 28 September 1962, 16. 
[4] “Heritage,” Assumption University, 2016. http://www.assumptionu.ca/about-us/history/. 
[5] “Heritage,” Assumption University, 2016. http://www.assumptionu.ca/about-us/history/; DeMarco, 44. 
[6] “Our History,” University of Windsor, 2021. https://www.uwindsor.ca/47/our-history. 
[7] DeMarco, 41. 
[8] “Heritage,” Assumption University, 2016. http://www.assumptionu.ca/about-us/history/. 
[9] DeMarco, 41; “Heritage,” Assumption University, 2016. http://www.assumptionu.ca/about-us/history/.
[10] DeMarco, 45; “Our History,” University of Windsor, 2021. https://www.uwindsor.ca/47/our-history. 
[11] “Heritage,” Assumption University, 2016. http://www.assumptionu.ca/about-us/history/.
[12] “Heritage,” Assumption University, 2016. http://www.assumptionu.ca/about-us/history/.