Laval University was founded in 1663, in Quebec City, Quebec, which was then in the French colony of New France. It was founded by Francois de Montmorency-Laval, who was the first Bishop of New France, as the Quebec Seminary (Seminaire de Quebec). It was the second higher education institution to be established in North America (after Harvard), and the first one whose primary language of instruction was French. When the principle of the Quebec Seminary, M. Louis Casault, obtained a Royal Charter from Queen Victoria on December 8th, 1852, the institution formerly became the Laval University. It later on received a papal charter from Rome in 1876.
The University has since 1876 been governed by two constitutions: one civil and one religious. The former governs its visitors, rectors, and university councils, while the latter governs its chancellors and the "Superior Council" of high ecclesiastics. In 1878, a second campus was opened in Montreal, Quebec, which later became the University of Montreal in 1919. Traditionally the university offered courses in theology, canon law, and humanities. Later on, especially starting in the late 19th Century, it gradually incorporated courses from other disciplines, including medicine, education, chemistry, physics, and nursing. Today, Laval University is a public university of Canada.
The Laval University is governed by a Board of Governors and a Senate. The Senate is responsible for academic policymaking, and the Board of Governors issues financial policies. The board also appoints a President, who serves as the leader of the institution. The university is comprised of five faculties. Namely, these are the Faculties of Theology, Philosophy, Law, Medicine, and the Arts. The Faculty of Arts is the largest faculty, as it includes the Department of Education, the Chemistry School, the Physics School, the School of Forestry and Surveying, the Music School, and the School of Nursing. It is home to four libraries that contain important documents of Quebec. Laval's library collections are open to public. Laval has more than 200 professors and instructors, as well as over 38,000 students in total. It attracts thousands of students from around the world.
Laval University is one of the top universities in Canada, and is considered a first-class university around the world. It has been ranked as one of the top 15 universities in Canada, and the 2nd highest French-speaking university in Canada, by the authoritative Maclean's Magazine within the past decade. Internationally, Times Higher Education, QS World, and ARWU each rank Laval in the top 300 universities and colleges globally. International students comprise 12% of its total enrollement.
Laval University, as one of the top universities in Quebec that offers instruction in French, has produced numerous Francophone politicians, judges, and civil servants. Three Canadian Prime Ministers (Louis St. Laurent, Brian Mulroney and Jean Chretien) all studied law at Laval. Besides that, 8 Premiers of Quebec, including the famous Rene Levesque, and ten Supreme Court Justices attended Laval. Furthermore, Laval has also cultivated numerous Senators, Members of Parliament, and lawyers, as well as having set a solid foundation for many famous academics. It has been called home by many Olympic athletes and professional sports players as well. Laval's athletics teams compete under the banner of the "Laval Rouge et Or".