Laurentian University, in Greater Sudbury, Ont, was founded in 1960; instruction is in both French and English. Laurentian University dates from 1913 when the Roman Catholic Collège du Sacré-Coeur was established in Sudbury. In 1957 it became the University of Sudbury. In 1960 and 1963, respectively, representatives from the new Huntington University (United Church) and Thorneloe University (Anglican) joined in a nondenominational federation with the university. Each church-affiliated university provides a college for Laurentian. Nipissing College in North Bay, Collège Universitaire de Hearst in Hearst, and Algome University College in Sault Ste Marie are also members of the Laurentian federation.
The Centre in Mining and Mineral Exploration Research, established 1984, focuses research on the region's most important economic activity. An internationally acclaimed swim club, led until 1987 by former Olympic gold medallist Alex Baumann, is based at the university. Laurentian is also a key player in the development and delivery of distance education; it is the largest bilingual provider of this service in Canada and currently offers over 300 courses in this format. The university is a key partner in the unique Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO), the world's deepest underground laboratory that began functioning in 1998 and has been providing new clues on the composition of the sun and the origins of the universe. In October 2001 the Ontario government announced its commitment to the development of a Northern Medical School with sites at Laurentian University in Sudbury and Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.
Laurentian University's colours are blue and yellow. It now offers over 100 programs in science, engineering, humanities, social sciences and the Professional School.