When professor Matthew Robinson attended St. Thomas University in the mid-80s, he would go to The Cellar Pub and Grill with his friends after class.
“You’d often spend the rest of the afternoon eating Fatty Fatty Grilled Cheese, drinking really cheap beer and [discussing] your classes — or [getting] into an argument about a book you read,” said Robinson.
Robinson, who now teaches American literature, graduated from STU in 1988. In his day, Edmund Casey Hall was the smoking lounge.
“It was packed in there, everybody sort of came together in that room and that’s where all the real talking happened,” said Robinson.
He said discussions ranged from politics to philosophy depending on the day. A mix of students, teachers and even people from outside the university would take part in the conversation.
“It was a social experience,” said Robinson.
As a student at STU in the early 2000s, Vivien Zelazny remembers hanging out in Sir James Dunn Hall and taking long lunch breaks with friends where she would eat bagels with cream cheese.
Zelazny now teaches at her alma mater as a great books professor and campus minister.
Growing up being interested in the human condition and reading books, Zelazny said STU seemed like the natural choice.
“I did the Aquinas program my first year … having this close-knit community with other students who are interested in reading books,” said Zelazny.
She graduated from STU with a double honours in great books and English in 2006. Zelazny came back to Fredricton when her husband, Matt Dinan, was offered a full-time teaching position at STU in 2014.
As a professor, she loves the Great Hall — especially the lights, big windows and comfy chairs.
“I enjoy seeing current students just sitting all around me, reading their books or talking to each other,” said Zelazny.
Robinson said the best part of his student experience was the sense of community. He said the campus is small and centralized, which allows students to spend time together in communal spaces like the courtyard.
He said that STU was like a greenhouse and he and his fellow classmates were the young plants with room to grow.
“[We] probably wouldn’t have survived in the real world yet,” said Robinson. “But we had these four years in the greenhouse to be as nerdy as we always hoped we could be.”