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History & Traditions

Learn about our past and discover what’s inspired us on our journey to provide Christian higher education in Canada

Our Name

The name Ambrose was selected in 2006 through a process that involved alumni, students, faculty, and staff.

Our namesake is Ambrose of Milan, a 4th century Christian who was called from a successful career in public office to become head of the Christian church in Milan, Italy.

Ambrose left his mark as a hymn writer, preacher, pastor, and educator and stands as one of the great Christians of his generation: a servant leader in both the church and society. He is an individual who embodies the values of our institution.

Learn more about Ambrose of Milan

Our Logo

The Shield

The shield roots Ambrose in academic tradition, and represents the shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16).

The Symbol

The symbol on the shield represents the spiritual, physical, and relational attributes of Ambrose University. It points to a commitment to the path of knowledge, reflects the mountain peaks visible from the campus, represents an open book, learning, and the interaction between professor and student. It roots learning in divine inspiration from above.

Our History

Ambrose was formed in 2007 when Alliance University College and Nazarene University College joined together to provide new and stronger academic programming to a broader public. In 2008, Ambrose moved to a 40-acre campus in southwest Calgary with capacity to accommodate 1,000 students in its growing program offerings.

Ambrose’s heritage is built on the long histories of educational service of these two institutions.

Alliance Higher Education in Canada  

The Christian and Missionary Alliance’s commitment to higher education dates back to the vision of its founder, Dr. A.B. Simpson, who established North America’s first Bible school in New York. This educational emphasis resulted in the addition of two educational institutions in Canada during the 1920s.

The Canadian Bible Institute (CBI) was founded in Regina, Saskatchewan in 1941, with an initial class of 50 students meeting in the lower auditorium of the Alliance Tabernacle under the direction of the first president, Rev. Blackett. CBI became Canadian Bible College in 1957.

Nazarene Higher Education in Canada

The Calgary Bible Institute was established on January 3, 1921 in the basement of the Calgary First Church of the Nazarene, with an initial class of 29. In 1927, the school relocated to Red Deer, under the leadership of Rev. Charles Thomson, where it became known as Alberta School of Evangelism, and then Northern Bible College (NBC).

In 1940, NBC changed its name to Canadian Nazarene College (CNC) until its accreditation as a university college in 1999 when it became Canadian Nazarene University College (NUC).


Nazarene University College entered a joint venture with Canadian Bible College in 2002 to fill the need for a Christian-based alternative to public universities.

Since the 1960s, both CBC and CNC had developed relationships with Canadian universities for the purpose of expanding offerings beyond Bible and theology into the arts & sciences. By the 1990s, the desire to create a university built on a foundation of Christian character was translated into action by Dr. George Durance, President of CBC, and Dr. Riley Coulter, President of CNC.

CNC relocated to Calgary in 1995, became a university college in 1999, and changed its name to Nazarene University College (NUC). In 2003, CBC joined NUC on their downtown Calgary campus, receiving provincial accreditation under the name Alliance University College (AUC) in 2004.    

In May 2007 AUC and NUC became a single entity, Ambrose University College, with Dr. George Durance as President and Dr. Riley Coulter as Chancellor.

Ambrose relocated to the new campus in southwest Calgary in September 2008.

Dr. George Durance resigned as president in 2009 and Dr. Gordon T. Smith was introduced as President on August 1, 2012.

In 2014, the Province of Alberta granted Ambrose the status of a university, allowing it to be renamed Ambrose University.

Timeline of the Formation of Ambrose University

Nazarene  Alliance Nazarene & Alliance Together

1921 Established as the Calgary Bible Institute in Calgary, AB

1927 Relocated to Red Deer, AB. and renamed the Alberta School of Evangelism

1929 Renamed Northern Bible College and new campus constructed

1940 Conferred degrees in theology. Renamed Canadian Nazarene College (CNC)

1961 Relocated to Winnipeg, MB

1973 Became an Approved Teaching Centre of the University of Manitoba

1994 The Board of Governors decided to relocate CNC to Calgary, AB

1995 Classes began in leased office space in downtown Calgary

1999 Accredited as a university college. Renamed Canadian Nazarene University College (NUC)

2002 NUC entered a joint venture with CBC/CTS

2007 NUC joined AUC to form a single entity called Ambrose University College

1941 Canadian Bible Institute (CBI) was established in Regina, SK

1949 CBI was chartered by the Saskatchewan government and called Western Canadian Bible Institute (WCBI)

1957 WCBI was renamed Canadian Bible College (CBC) of The Christian and Missionary Alliance

1970 Canadian Theological College (CTC) was established.

1982 CTC was renamed Canadian Theological Seminary (CTS)

1989 CTS was accredited by the Association of Theological Schools

1999 CTS–Langley was established as part of the ACTS consortium of seminaries at TWU in BC

2000 The Board of Governors decided to relocate the campus to Calgary, AB. CTS–Toronto was established

2002 CBC/CTS entered a joint venture with NUC in Calgary

2003 Campus relocated to Calgary to share facilities with NUC

2004 Alberta’s Minister of Learning designated AUC as an institution that may grant Bachelor of Arts degrees

2007 AUC joined NUC to form a single entity called Ambrose University College

2007 AUC and NUC formed a single entity called Ambrose University College

2008 Ambrose University College relocated from temporary facilities in downtown Calgary to a new campus in southwest Calgary

2009 Lions Futsal entered Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) for Winter 2010

2011 Theological Studies in Chinese at Ambrose Seminary was launched.

2014 Province of Alberta granted 'university' nomenclature to Ambrose - Ambrose University College is renamed Ambrose University

2014 Lions Volleyball entered Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) for Fall 2014

2015 Lions Basketball entered Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) for Fall 2015

2018 Lions Soccer entered Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) for Fall 2018

2019 Lions Women's Futsal team champions

2019 Psychology offered in September at Ambrose