Why do students at Bishop’s University love it so much? The liberal arts university in Sherbrooke, Que., founded in 1843, has fewer than 3,000 full-time students, but those students have given it Canada’s top satisfaction score over and over again. Trinity Merrithew, who is in her fourth year at the school and serves as editor-in-chief for the student newspaper The Campus, thinks it has something to do with the intimacy of the school: “We’re a close-knit community. You get to know people on such a personal level.” At Bishop’s, she adds, “you walk outside and everyone knows you by name.” The school is famous for making students feel a similar sense of individuality. Merrithew says she’s met “professors and staff who go out of their way to make students feel comfortable and acknowledged,” and other students have told stories of professors actually noticing when they’re not in class. This behaviour is unthinkable in many larger institutions.
The buildings on the Bishop’s campus run the gamut, from the 19th-century neo-Gothic style of St. Mark’s Chapel to the 1960s schoolhouse look of the student residence Abbott Hall. In 2018, Bishop’s unveiled a massive renovation to its library building, turning it into a sleek, futuristic learning commons. This new library is filled with social and collaborative spaces to emphasize the importance of letting students use the space in their preferred ways, and it incorporates a Student Success Centre that offers services such as peer review by senior students.
During the age of social distancing, Bishop’s has strived to find safe ways of bringing students together. During orientation week, the school moved events (and bars) outdoors, and Enzo Evangelisti, president of the Bishop’s University Representative Council, proudly told the Sherbrooke Record that they had managed to find a safe way to preserve the quirky O-Week tradition of “serenading the principal” at home during the night.
The university is still finding ways to make students feel welcome at a time when many of them are learning online, and the students are doing their part, too: sociology professor Cheryl Gosselin told the Record that a student group called the Online Learning Team was helping less tech-savvy professors adjust to the new way of teaching. “People at Bishop’s are embraced for their differences, and there’s a place for everyone’s interests,” Merrithew says. During a crisis, there’s no better place to be than a place where people feel cared for.
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- National Reputational Ranking
- Student satisfaction