Anglican-affiliated Thorneloe University fights to remain federated with Laurentian

“No students means no tuition, which means no income,” says Thorneloe University president Canon John Gibaut. Photo: Thorneloe University
Published June 1, 2021

The president of Thorneloe University, a Sudbury, Ont. school affiliated with the Anglican Church of Canada, says an attempt by Laurentian University to end a 60-year-old federation agreement between the schools could seriously threaten its income and course offering.

“No students means no tuition, which means no income,” Thorneloe University president Canon John Gibaut wrote in an email to the Anglican Journal. Ending the agreement, he said, would mean program cuts at Thorneloe, which now offers theology courses through its own theology school plus religious studies, ancient studies and women, gender and sexuality studies through Laurentian.

“What would remain are the much smaller number of courses in Thorneloe’s School of Theology,” he said. The termination was announced in a statement April 1, but was challenged by Thorneloe and the University of Sudbury, which has also been federated with Laurentian. On May 2, the motion filed by Thorneloe was dismissed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

In a statement, Thorneloe said it would appeal the court’s decision, and that it would cancel spring classes offered through Laurentian, which had been set to begin the following day.

Cash-strapped Laurentian University has been in a court-supervised restructuring process since Feb. 1. In its April 1 announcement, Laurentian stated that terminating the relationships with its three federated universities—Thorneloe, Huntington University and University of Sudbury—was “necessary in order to ensure that millions of dollars paid by Laurentian to the federated universities each year … will remain within Laurentian, as part of its path to future financial sustainability.”

Under the agreement, signed in 1960, students are able to take courses credited toward a Laurentian University degree at any of the federated universities.

A statement released by Thorneloe on April 2—which first declared the university’s intention to oppose the termination in court—asserts that there is no “termination provision” in the federation agreement and disputes the idea that school is a “cash drain” on Laurentian’s profits.


  • Joelle Kidd

    Joelle Kidd was a staff writer for the Anglican Journal from 2017 to 2021.

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