Department of Biology (UNBSJ)

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This entry is currently under development. Please do not consider the entry authoritative until it has been completed.

Previous names: Department of Biology and Nursing, Biology, Division of Science, Division of Mathematics and Science, Biology option, Biology 

Student looking at insects in the Biology Lab, UNBSJ Record group/Fonds PR; Series 1; Sub-series 2; Item 5174 [19--]

Established: 1993


Biology was first offered at UNBSJ in 1964 under UNB Fredericton’s Faculty of Science. Dr. C.W. Argue – UNB Fredericton’s Dean of Science at that time – and Miss Lenore McLeese (a staff member at Saint John High School) taught first year lectures and labs at Beaverbrook House and Saint John High School. In the university’s second year of operation, both first and second year Biology courses – identical to existing courses at UNB Fredericton – were offered at Beaverbrook House and labs in the Workmen’s Compensation Area of the Old Provincial Building. Francis Premdas, who was recruited in 1965 to work on the establishment of a Biology department at UNBSJ, played a key role in securing facilities in the Old Provincial Building. This arrangement continued until 1969 when Biology labs and classrooms moved along with faculty and students to William Ganong Hall on the Tucker Park campus. Since its establishment in Saint John, Biology had been a part of the UNB Fredericton Faculty of Science. In 1974 Biology was placed under the administrative Division of Mathematics and Science in Saint John. Just two years later, Biology at UNBSJ moved from the Division of Mathematics and Science to a separate Division of Science, which included one UNBSJ chairperson for the entire division.

Development of the Biology program continued throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The Biology option was offered beginning in 1967 to second year students who wished to specialize in Biology for their third and fourth year of study in Fredericton. Additional courses were created throughout the 1970s, and between 1975 and 1979 the number of courses offered in Biology had grown from eight to twenty-eight. During the planning stages of UNBSJ’s establishment, Dr. C.W. Argue expressed his belief in the importance of making use of the unique opportunities of Saint John’s bayside location with respect to teaching and researching Biology. Years later in 1978, the Marine Biology degree program was introduced as the first four-year Science degree program at UNBSJ followed by the major in General Biology one year later. A specialization in Zoology was offered in 1981 and a major in Biology-Psychology was offered later in 1991. In subsequent years, the obtaining of research facilities like the Mary O vessel in 1978 and Pendleton Island in 1986 helped to contribute to the growth of the program. 

In 1993, the Department of Biology and Nursing was created under the Faculty of Science, Applied Science and Engineering, and three years later Biology became a separate department, which was first chaired by John M. Terhune and included nine faculty members. Later in 1999, the construction of K.C. Irving Hall became the new home for Biology labs, providing more space and updated facilities for instructors and students. By the year 2005, a Bachelor of Science in General Biology, Environmental Biology, Marine Biology, and Biology-Psychology were all offered as Majors in the UNBSJ’s Biology program, and Zoology was offered as a specialization. Course offering numbers had also grown over the course of the program’s development, increasing from the twenty-eight in 1979 to seventy-two in 2011.   

Physical Location: William Ganong Hall (1969-), K.C. Irving Hall (labs) (1999-)

Faculty: Faculty of Science, Applied Science and Engineering

Notes: Established date is based on the date that the separate UNBSJ department was officially stated in the calendar, and in the commencement year of the UNBSJ Faculty of Science, Applied Science and Engineering.


  • UA Case 180, Section 4, Files 1 & 14 
  • UNB Perspectives: Vol. 1(15), 2(14 & 15) 3(9)
  • UNB Undergraduate Calendars (UA RG 86) 1965-2014
  • McGahan, Peter. The Quiet Campus: A History of the University of New Brunswick in Saint John, 1959-1969. Fredericton: New Ireland Press, 1998
  • UNB Saint John website 

--Alloyd (talk) 09:43, 28 July 2015 (ADT)
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