Had there been a current affairs class when what is now the University of New Brunswick first opened its doors, the lecture could have focused on constitutional turmoil south of the border and the rise of Gen. George Washington – still four years away from being named U.S. president.

UNB, Canada’s oldest English-language university, is celebrating its 225th anniversary this year and officials say looking forward will be as important as looking back on the institution’s long, impressive history in New Brunswick and Canada.

“Clearly, with this anniversary celebration we get to reflect back on our past, celebrate our current activities and also to look into our future,” said chief advancement officer Bob Skillen.

The university has released its plans for anniversary events that will take place over the coming academic year, beginning with the granting of five honorary degrees at a gala event in Toronto called A Celebration of Canadian Spirit.

The event will be held on Sept. 23 in a new, 1,000-seat theatre at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music. The main hosts will be former premier Frank McKenna, Grammy award-winning singer Anne Murray and UNB chancellor and prominent businessman Dick Currie – all graduates of UNB.

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