Menno Simons College began in the 1970s with a vision from a group of Mennonite community leaders who formed the Friends of Higher Education. They had a passion to bring concepts of justice, peace and international development to a university setting. Dr. David Friesen was a driving force in the establishment of Menno Simons College, as a major benefactor and founding chair of the board.
Menno Simons College is named after Menno Simons, a 16th-Century Dutch priest who became a leader within a radical religious group of "re-baptizers" or Anabaptists. In his writings, Menno Simons reinforces the key values of Anabaptism: complete discipleship, a strong sense of community and an absolute rejection of violence to solve problems in the church or society.
In June 1982, the Manitoba Legislature passed Bill 34 granting Menno Simons College a charter to grant degrees. Since then, Menno Simons College has enjoyed tremendous growth. By 1988, Menno Simons College had become known as the home of Conflict Resolution Studies and International Development Studies and the college formally affiliated with a major public university, The University of Winnipeg.
In 1989, Menno Simons College offered its first credit courses with teaching president, George Epp, PhD. and one full-time professor, Bernie Wiebe, PhD. Dr. George Richert became the second President of MSC and in the mid-1990s, under the leadership of Dr. George Epp, Menno Simons College joined Canadian Mennonite Bible College and Concord College as a founding college of Canadian Mennonite University. Menno Simons College serves as the downtown campus of Canadian Mennonite University.
In 1998, Rev. Jack Loepp succeeded Dr. Friesen as board chair and continued until 2003, when Canadian Mennonite University merged its three-fold administration into one, installing its first president, Gerald Gerbrandt, PhD. and appointing one governing board. Throughout the mid-2000s Canadian Mennonite University developed a new administrative structure, including a Vice President Academic who oversees all academic matters throughout the institution and four academic deans.
In 2005, Menno Simons College purchased the first two floors at 520 Portage Avenue with the intention of renovating the space into a brighter and more welcoming facility. These major renovations took place in the spring of 2012 and included three classrooms, a one thousand square foot student lounge, and an open concept reception, student services, and administrative offices.
Today, Menno Simons College is a buzzing hub of expertise in Conflict Resolution Studies and International Development Studies. Visiting scholars, students from foreign countries and many academic disciplines contribute to a vibrant, diverse college community. Menno Simons College operates as a college of Canadian Mennonite University and retains its original affiliation with The University of Winnipeg.
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