To the Campus Community
The situation regarding COVID-19 continues to evolve with three presumptive cases now being reported in Nova Scotia. StFX remains committed to evolving our strategies in response to the latest developments. It is with that in mind that I inform you of the latest decisions:
COVID-19 presents a number of unprecedented situations and challenges for the campus community. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue to work through these trying times.
For the latest COVID-19 updates from StFX University, visit Stfx.ca/coronavirus.
Kevin Wamsley, PhD
President and Vice Chancellor
To the Campus Community,
The situation regarding COVID-19 remains fluid, rapidly evolving and presents unprecedented challenges. I appreciate that uncertainty can cause anxiety and stress among the campus community.
I write to inform you that StFX will suspend all in-person classes Monday March 16th to Friday March 20th. This will permit our instructors the time necessary to assess how programs will be delivered through to the end of the term.
It is important to note that we are not closing the campus nor is the academic term cancelled.
Please be aware that classes will resume on Monday March 23rd using online or other alternative delivery methods. The laboratory components of some courses may not be able to continue. In such cases, adjustments to project expectations or lab grades will need to be made. More details on how classes (including exams) will be delivered will be provided in the days ahead.
Though in-person classes are suspended, faculty can continue to work from their offices. As well, our campus, including residences and dining halls, will remain open at this time. Employees should attend work as usual.
Students living in residences who are able to return home are encouraged to do so. Please be assured that anyone who cannot return home for reasons such as international travel restrictions, serious personal reasons, or university obligations will continue to be provided accommodation. For those students staying in residence we reserve the right to move you to another residence in the interests of student safety. Further information regarding residences will be provided by Student Services in the coming days.
The health and safety of our campus community remains foremost our top priority and with patience and understanding, we will continue our resolve and work our way through these extraordinary times.
Kevin Wamsley, PhD
President and Vice Chancellor
Below are some Frequently Asked Questions for your reference:
Have classes been cancelled at StFX?
In-person classes at StFX are suspended for the week of March 16-20. This is a preventative measure to increase social distancing, eliminate large-group gatherings, and allow professors time to shift to alternative means of teaching. Continuing and Distance Education classes continue as normal.
Will I be able to complete the academic year?
We are working to ensure that all students will be able to complete their academic year. StFX’s intention is to transition from in-person classes to a remote teaching environment (i.e. online) for the remainder of the term.
When will classes resume?
Classes will resume on Monday, March 23rd. More information on classes will be provided to students in the days ahead.
How will I complete final exams?
StFX is working to finalize arrangements that will allow all students to complete their exams. Students will not be expected to return to campus for exams. There will be more details to come on this next week, as we consult with the Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents and Nova Scotia Public Health regarding next steps.
I am currently on a clinical or co-op work placement or working in a research capacity. Are these being impacted?
Clinical and co-op placements, as well as limited research activities, including thesis-based Masters co-op work placements can continue.
Are residences at the university closing down?
Residences will remain open but we are encouraging all students who can return home to do so.
I am unable to return home. Can I still stay in residence?
Yes. All students who need to continue living in residence will be able to do so. Please note, for students’ continued safety we reserve the right to move students to another residence. Students Services will be sending out more information regarding residences in the days ahead.
Is the campus shutting down?
No. University offices and facilities remain open. The decision to suspend classes represents a measure to reduce large gatherings and increase social distancing.
Employees are expected to report to work as usual.
Dear Members of the StFX Community,
COVID-19 has presented the university with significant challenges. These challenges are not just about academic credit or attending work or the hosting of events; the issues we are facing are about the personal health and safety of friends, family, and ourselves. Your health and safety are our priorities. We have based our decisions on how the university will proceed in its operations on the latest health reports from the Public Health Agency of Canada, on careful conversations with other universities but, most importantly, following the advice of Nova Scotia Public Health. With this information at hand, it is our contention that StFX remains a safe location for our students, faculty, and staff.
StFX shall remain operational under very specific conditions.
Almost 50% of our student population hails from outside of the Province of Nova Scotia and forcing our students to travel home at this time is a far greater risk than having them remain in Antigonish. However, there are very specific conditions under which we must, as a community, proceed. As such, we ask that every community member adhere to these conditions.
The university remains open and will continue to share updates with the campus community as we receive information and as decisions are made. We encourage you to visit and bookmark www.stfx.ca/coronavirus for the latest information from the university. Again, this is a fluid situation and you should expect to receive additional updates as any further decisions or directives are issued. The situation is fluid and rapidly evolving, with various jurisdictions (including Nova Scotia) considering further measures to stop the spread of the virus as new information becomes available.
In the meantime, I wish to share StFX’s response regarding COVID-19:
Nova Scotia Public Health reminds us that the risk to those within the Province of Nova Scotia remains low. As such, the university remains open and facilities such as the libraries, recreation centres, food services, health and wellness centre, etc., remain fully operational. However, there will be restrictions on class sizes, public gatherings, and social events. These restrictions will be noted on the website and will be communicated directly to you. Until further notice, students, staff and faculty should continue to go to classes and work as usual. If you have extraordinary circumstances that require accommodation, please see your Dean or supervisor. If you are ill, stay home. If you are feeling anxiety or are unsure, please speak to Health and Counselling or your immediate supervisor. We are here to help.
This situation is causing significant stress and anxiety among our StFX community members. Rest assured that the University is exercising the utmost caution and care in the decision-making that affects us all so personally. At this time, risk is low but we remain vigilant and continue to meet daily to consider appropriate actions to maintain the health and safety of all of our members. We ask you to remain calm and to be vigilant about hand-washing and social distance.
Within stfx.ca/coronavirus are FAQs. I attached some of them below for your reference.
On behalf of the university, I thank everyone for your patience and understanding. In my time at the university I can see that we are bound to help one another in times of challenge and difficulty at StFX. We will emerge from this together as a community.
Kevin Wamsley, PhD
President and Vice Chancellor
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is the risk of infection?
Currently, the Public Health Agency of Canada has assessed the public health risk as low, and there are no diagnosed cases within Nova Scotia.
I live in residence. Should I take special precautions?
Follow normal precautions for preventing the spread of illness, such as washing your hands often and not touching your eyes/nose/mouth with unwashed hands. Do not share water bottles or drinks with others. Keeping your room clean is also a good idea, as is wiping down ‘high touch’ surfaces in your room like door handles, light switches, and desks.
The university has authorized the hiring of 10 additional cleaning staff to increase the frequency of disinfection procedures around campus.
Is the university instructing its custodial staff to do any additional cleaning?
Custodial Services are implementing infection prevention and control measures in our cleaning practices to emphasize disinfecting and cleaning of all contact points and surfaces. The university has authorized the hiring of 10 additional cleaning staff to increase the frequency of disinfection procedures around campus.
Should students/staff/faculty with flu-like symptoms attend class/work?
No. If you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms – whether or not you believe them to be related to COVID-19 – you should stay at home or in your residence room, and see a healthcare professional as you deem appropriate.
Employees who are experiencing any flu-like symptoms should take a sick day, or arrange to work from home as appropriate.
Should I stay home from class as a precaution?
Currently, the Public Health Agency of Canada has assessed the public health risk as low, and there are no diagnosed cases within Nova Scotia. If you are not sick, and have not come in contact with any person who may have contracted COVID-19, there is no reason to not attend class.
However, if you are feeling sick and/or are showing symptoms related to COVID-19, you are encouraged to stay home and consult the Nova Scotia government’s self-assessment guide, which will dictate whether you should report your symptoms to 811.
Will the university be cancelling classes or events?
There are no plans to cancel classes at this time. Event cancellations are at the discretion of the event organizers.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has assessed the public health risk from COVID-19 as low.
Who should I contact if I have concerns?
If you have concerns about your health or wellbeing, contact your local healthcare provider. If you are a student, you can also contact StFX’s Office of Health and Counselling Services at (902) 867-2263. The office is located in Bloomfield 305.
Last week, 17 StFX students travelled to Halifax to take part in the Royal Canadian Navy’s new Canadian Students at Sea program. This initiative, organized by professors Adam Lajeunesse (Brian Mulroney Institute) and Jamie Levin (Department of Political Science), in partnership with the RCN’s Strategic Outreach team, offered undergraduates in military history and security studies a chance to engage with members of the Canadian military and get a glimpse of navy life.
Over the course of a very full day, students visited the Navy’s Atlantic Operations Centre, Maritime Security Operations Center and Joint Rescue Coordination Centre to see how Canada’s governmental agencies monitor the country’s maritime approaches and manage search and rescue in the Atlantic. There was time for a walk-by of the new oiler Asterix as well as a tour of the dry-docked submarine HMCS Windsor and the patrol ship HMCS Moncton. To really show off the Navy’s capabilities, students spent the afternoon aboard the patrol frigate HMCS Ville de Québec, where high speed manoeuvers, boarding and firefighting demonstrations, as well as a tour of the ship’s operations room and bridge, brought to life Canada’s responsibilities – and capabilities – at sea.canadian students at sea .jpg Improving Canadians’ understanding of their Navy, and the role it plays in the country’s security and prosperity, is an important part of sustaining the service and building its future fleet. Canadian Students at Sea is a step towards showing Canada’s future leaders what the Navy does and how its work shapes and secures the country. StFX’s students were taken by the RCN’s generosity, with both its time and energy – from a personal briefing with Rear-Admiral Craig Baines (Commander, Maritime Forces Atlantic) to guided tours by Captain (N) David Benoit (CO of Formation Maintenance Facility Cape Scott).
This trip was made possible with generous support from the Faculty of Arts, the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government, the Public Policy and Governance Program, and the Department of Political Science.
StFX Rankin School of Nursing professor Dr. Donna Halperin is one of the co-principal investigators who have received a $500,000 grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to address the effects of the COVID-19 public health outbreak on control policies and implementation on individuals and communities.
The project, entitled “Understanding the effects of public health outbreak control policies and implementation on individuals and communities: a path to improving COVID-19 policy effectiveness” will examine the cultural dimensions of the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic such as examining how individuals and communities understand and react to the disease, studying the response of public health, and exploring how public health policy affects individuals and communities.
While public health policies are required to control an infectious disease outbreak, these policies can adversely affect individuals and communities, says Dr. Halperin.
Quarantine, limitations in movement and public gathering, and other restrictive measures can put a social and economic burden on individuals, which may be disproportionate, depending on their socioeconomic status and other factors.
She says healthcare providers are both involved in administering the policy, but are also put at grave risk in caring for patients.
Dr. Halperin says this will be a multi-province, multi-country study in Canada (British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia), Bangladesh, and China (Guangdong).
The researchers will use qualitative methodology (document review, key informant interviews, focus groups) and quantitative methods (surveys) to examine policy and implementation from the public health/policy perspective as well perspectives of the media, communities, healthcare providers, patients and their caregivers, and members of the general public.
These data will be used to improve the process by which public health policies are created and implemented.
Dr. Halperin says there is a knowledge gap about how to best integrate the perspectives of individuals and communities, particularly those with social vulnerabilities, into policy formation and implementation, creating suboptimal effectiveness of public health policies. The researchers, she says, aim to close this gap by exploring the effects of policy on communities and individuals.
Two Gerald Schwartz School of Business students at StFX, Mairi McKinnon of Halifax, NS and Taylor Kennah of Bathurst, NB, are recipients of the prestigious 2019-2020 Frank H. Sobey Award for Excellence in Business Studies. The award, valued at $30,000 each, is given annually to eight business students studying at Atlantic Canadian universities.
The award recipients are selected based on their entrepreneurship, supporting their communities, and their employment experience, by a board of directors comprising of Atlantic Canadian business and academic leaders.
“Both Mairi and Taylor are most deserving of this award,” says StFX Schwartz School of Business Dean Dr. Todd Boyle.
“Mairi is an outstanding student not only in terms of her academic performance but also in her commitment to both university and community engagement. Mairi has made a significant positive impact in the lives of so many people,” he says.
Examples of her entrepreneurial skills, leadership, and community engagement are numerous and include her role as president of a successful junior achievement company, invitation to speak at the Canadian Business Hall of Fame gala in 2016, work at the IWK Hospital, student leader for the StFX Service Learning Department, Venture Canada Intern, and her volunteer work in a health clinic in Tanzania.
“Taylor is a remarkable entrepreneur who has combined her leadership skills, commitment to her community, love for the arts, and creative talent. She is an outstanding role model for both children and her university peers,” says Dr. Boyle.
Among her many leadership roles, she currently serves as president of the Schwartz Women in Business Society. Her leadership also extends into her local community. About three years ago, she founded Bathurst on Broadway, a highly successful not-for-profit musical theater camp in Bathurst, NB that provides dance, drama, and theater instruction to children aged five to 13 years.
Both students were recognized at a formal event at The Crombie House in Abercrombie, NS.
StFX’s Department of Human Nutrition kicked off Nutrition Month this March with some special guests.
StFX President Dr. Kevin Wamsley, Central Nova MP Sean Fraser, and representatives from the Antigonish Farmers Market all captained trivia teams, which included a number of StFX students, who together faced off on their nutritional knowledge.
To get on the scoreboard, the teams had to answer a series of questions on subjects ranging from where do dietitians work to household food insecurity to Canada’s new food guide.
Dean of Science Dr. Daniel Belliveau acted as judge.
When the event concluded, Team Wamsley had captured first place in the competition.
Nutrition Month is a time to celebrate healthy eating and to celebrate the role of dieticians.
It was a celebration of much good news on the StFX campus March 4 as it was announced StFX’s Coady Institute is leading a collaborative five-year project to strengthen gender equality and women’s leadership opportunities around the world.
Sean Fraser, Central Nova MP and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, was on campus for a special funding announcement of nearly $10 million from Global Affairs Canada for a project, titled ENGAGE! Women’s Empowerment and Active Citizenship, which will see Coady work with organizations on the ground in communities across five countries, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, and Tanzania, to strengthen individual and organizational capacity while providing tools and opportunities for women to increase their own empowerment.
The partner’s projects will focus on areas such as leadership development, social enterprise, climate adaptation, leadership and management education and future of work all with the goal of gender equitable change.
Co-designed by Coady Institute and five partner organizations, ENGAGE! will advance gender equality and poverty reduction by enhancing women’s capacity to participate in the social and economic life of their communities.
BETTER THE WORLD
“This year marks the 60th anniversary of Coady and its position as a global leader in employing education and collaboration to effect positive social changes,” StFX President Dr. Kevin Wamsley said. “This initiative perfectly aligns with the Coady legacy of working directly with communities to better societies, all over the world.”
This is a particularly important announcement for our university, for the Coady, and for people around the world, Dr. Wamsley said.
“What better organization than Coady, embedded in StFX, to take on this great work,” he said.
“Wouldn’t Moses Coady be smiling today.”
This great gift from the Government of Canada, this $10 million, is going to go so far in transforming the world and helping women empower themselves to make social change in their communities, he noted.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled to share this news,” Mr. Fraser said as he congratulated Coady on the important work it continues to do, and noted how this project will serve both local and global interests.
The relationship between the federal government and Coady has been ongoing almost since Coady’s inception 60 years ago, and Mr. Fraser said he is pleased to make this announcement, sharing in the next chapter of the institution.
What a great day this is for StFX, the Coady, partners and “for the future of the world, frankly, that’s what this is about,” Senator Mary Coyle, who formerly led the Coady as executive director, noted in her remarks.
This new partnership announced today by the Government of Canada will enable Coady to be a significant accelerator to achieving goals of gender equality, she said.
“Today we are celebrating the opening of many doors for and by women.”
“The ENGAGE! project provides a wonderful opportunity for Coady staff to collaborate with our partners in their home countries and communities, sharing and learning about the practice of asset-based development on the ground,” Gord Cunningham, Executive Director, Coady Institute, said. “We will then bring those lessons learned back to the Coady classroom here in Antigonish.”
Eileeen Alma, Director, Women and Indigenous Programming at Coady, and the ceremony’s emcee, noted there is a lot to be excited about. She thanked all those involved, particularly Coady staff, led by Anthony Scoggins, who worked on this project. Two staff members, Brianne Peters and Eric Smith, recently returned from a planning meeting in Ethiopia with partners, introduced the project on behalf of the team. “We are working with women who are going to change the rules of the game,” Ms. Peters noted.
The five organizations joining Coady Institute in this initiative are long-standing partners with strong experience in advancing gender equality and community change. They include:
• Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India;
• Organization for Women in Self Employment (WISE) in Ethiopia;
• Gender Training Institute (GTI) of the Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP);
• Christian Commission for Development (CCDB) in Bangladesh; and
• Centre Haïtien du Leadership et de l’Excellence (CLE) in Haiti.
ENGAGE! will apply an asset-based, citizen-led development (ABCD) approach to promote gender-equitable change. This approach ensures that local communities, particularly women, exercise ownership and control over social and economic development initiatives that respond to their realities and priorities.
“Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh is very much excited being part of the ENGAGE project, and at the same time we are hopeful to bring some significant changes in the lives of women through working together with Coady in the next five years,” Imran Kibria, Head, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation with Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh, said.
Partners and their networks will engage a cohort of nearly 1,500 women and their allies in ENGAGE!, including many from marginalized groups such as ethnic minorities and persons living with disabilities. As well, ENGAGE! will reach an estimated 13,810 female and 5,600 male beneficiaries directly, and a further 253,180 beneficiaries indirectly.
The announcement was made as StFX and the community celebrate International Women’s Week, March 8-14.
The internationally-known historian, Dr. Jacqueline deVries, of Augsburg University, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, will give the 2019-20 Christian Culture Lectures at StFX. Her lectures will take place in the Schwartz School of Business on Mon. March 9 at 7:30 p.m. in Room 215, and on Tues. March 10 at 7:30 p.m. in Room 215. Her first lecture is entitled "The Evolution of Sex: Science, Religion, and 19th c. Gender Debates;" her second lecture will be on "Religion and Women's Suffrage: A Centenary Perspective."
Dr. deVries specializes in modern European and British social and cultural history. Her research focuses on the history of feminism and the social history of religion. She is the author of Women, Gender and Religious Cultures in Britain, 1800-1940 (co-edited with Sue Morgan, 2010), and is completing a book tentatively titled Women, Religion and Social Change, 1795-present. She has published a number of articles in scholarly journals, such as Feminist Studies and History Compass.
Dr. Rhonda Semple, a faculty member in the StFX Department of History and a member of the Christian Culture Lecture Series Committee, says that Dr. deVries brings an exceptional wealth of scholarship to her historical research and that StFX is privileged to serve as host to a scholar of such remarkable standing in this year’s Christian Culture Lecture Series. “Dr. deVries was in the vanguard of contemporary historians who, beginning in the late 1980s recognized the importance of re-integrating belief into the study of religious and cultural institutions. She has brought the tools of feminism and broader critical cultural approaches to the study of Christianity in the history modern globalizing west.”
How do we imagine an energy transition?
That was the question participants at a recent Energy Transition School, hosted by StFX’s Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership on Feb. 28-29, 2020, focused on over two days at the multi-session event directed by three scholars, Dr. Jeff Diamanti of the University of Amsterdam; Dr. Imre Szeman, University of Waterloo; and Dr. Jennifer Wenzel, Columbia University.
Organizers from the McKenna Centre have said the event was quite a success and has made an impact it the community, “as it started the discussion around the possibilities of an energy transition, and created concrete solutions that can be taken on in the community.”
StFX human kinetics professor Dr. Sasho MacKenzie had a unique opportunity over Reading Week. He travelled to Arizona for Major League Baseball’s spring training—at the request of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“The focus of this trip was fitting hitters into the most appropriate bat for them,” says Dr. MacKenzie who has been working with professional and Olympic athletes on their training techniques and biomechanics for the past 15 years.
In the past six years, he’s focused mainly on the golf industry, but two years ago he started consulting with the LA Dodgers. “I was contacted by their player development department based on my published research and success in the golf industry,” he says.
While in Arizona, he was with the Dodgers, who play in the National League, on February 18th and 19th, and with the Texas Rangers of the American League on February 20th.
“The process involves the biomechanics of how the hitter swings the bat, the physics of impact and ball flight and then predicting which bat properties would yield the best in game hitting performance over the course of the season or against a particular pitcher using statistical techniques,” he says.
Dr. MacKenzie has teamed up with an entity called Baseball Performance Labs and Marucci Sports, the number one bat provider to the MLB.
“Marucci is able to custom build the bats based on our fitting recommendations. I also consult with the teams’ performance science departments. What’s the best data to collect on players, what’s the best way to collect that data, and how should this information be communicated to hitting coaches and players.”
He says the experience has been a good one.
“Conducting and publishing scientific research is very enjoyable, but being asked to apply your research and knowledge at the highest level of sport has been particularly satisfying.”
Ever since she arrived at StFX from her home in Guayaquil, Ecuador, Andreina (Andie) Márquez de la Plata Gregor has hit the ground running.
“I’m taking advantage of the experience to the fullest. I came to get an education, but also to learn about life too. That’s what I’m doing,” says the third year honours sociology student who is excelling at StFX.
Academically, she’s in the top five per cent of her program and is an International Scholarship recipient. Outside of class, she’s actively involved at StFX and in the community.
During her time at StFX, she has worked as a research assistant with modern languages professor Dr. María Soledad Paz-Mackay; has taught in the Spanish lab; tutored Spanish in the community and through StFX’s Continuing Education; volunteered at Antigonish’s Friendship Corner; worked for StFX Conference Services at the StFX University Summer Hotel; and for all three years, has worked as a meal hall supervisor at Sodexo, the campus food provider.
Recently, Andie, whose future plans include social work, received news she’s a recipient of a Scotia Scholars Award for summer research that will focus on elder care. She will complete the research under the supervision of Dr. Katie Aubrecht, StFX sociology professor and Canada Research Chair Health Equity and Social Justice
Says Andie on her motivation: “I like to keep busy doing things that are fulfilling.”
Her StFX experience has been good, she says. “I really like it. I didn’t know what to expect. Everything has fallen into place, especially this year. A few professors are really looking after me.”
Recently, with input from her professors, she declared her honours in sociology. She will also take a minor in psychology.
Social work has always been where she’s inclined, but she says that decision was solidified a few years ago when a devastating earthquake hit her home country of Ecuador, destroying two cities.
“At that moment, I felt so powerless. I really wanted to help, but as a high school student, there is only so much you can do.”
She recalls seeing a lady who did help and thinking, “I want to be this person. That’s my job, helping. That was the final thing that let me know that’s what I want to do.”
From StFX faculty to friends she’s made in the community to her boss, she says everyone has all been so nice.
“StFX is helping me grow as a person. It’s what I wanted when I came here.”
As for her advice to other students considering StFX: “Take it. Do it.”
Ten First Nations women will be attending a leadership conference this May designed to encourage more women to run for municipal and First Nation band elections in eastern Nova Scotia, thanks to support from StFX’s Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership. The Leadership School for Women will be run by Government FOCUS (Female Objectives Cape Breton Unama’ki Strait).
The conference is hosted by the Town of Port Hawkesbury. Organizers there had put out a call to local governments asking if they could help participants with child care and travel costs to help remove barriers to participate. However, organizers were disappointed to find out that Richmond County councillors decided not to support the event.
“Given that championing leadership initiatives for women, and in particular Indigenous women, is a key aspect of our mandate, the Advisory Board of the McKenna Centre quickly took action and unanimously voted in favour of supporting the event. I was able to write to Port Hawkesbury Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton the same day to offer our help,” says Dr. Mathias Nilges, Director of the McKenna Centre and StFX English professor.
Additionally, he says StFX’s Human Kinetics Department is also committing to support conference participants with free play, active and inclusive childcare, and the university’s Extension Department has offered to help with promoting the event.
For nearly a decade, the McKenna Centre has attracted established leaders from a wide range of sectors who’ve come to StFX to ponder one central question: what is true leadership – and how can we teach it?
The Director of the McKenna Centre, Dr. Mathias Nilges, is an ardent supporter of students and their creativity, and his cutting-edge approach to leadership combines the academic study of leadership with hands-on training that encourages students to direct their own path to leadership.
Dr. Nilges notes that “one of the most exciting aspects of the McKenna Centre is that it makes it possible to foster and to produce courageous, innovative projects by students and faculty at StFX, projects that make important contributions to contemporary academic, sociocultural, and political debates.”
The McKenna Centre does not exist to tell students what they should be thinking about; rather, it provides a forum for students to deeply engage with the toughest issues of their generation. In doing so, they gain an understanding of the role they might play, both during their tenure on campus and beyond.
Because leadership skills are transferable across fields and have value and utility for a wide range of endeavours, the McKenna Centre supports a wide spectrum of innovative ideas, events, projects, and initiatives from students and faculty.
Indeed, the slate of speakers, events, and initiatives in the 2019-2020 academic year has been remarkable in its depth and breadth, and the McKenna Centre is quickly becoming a nation-leading incubator for social change.
In early September, the McKenna Centre set the tone for the year by hosting the first annual StFX Shoreline Cleanup, a community event that underscored that leadership involves taking action, even in small ways. This was soon followed by the Annual Leadership Summit, which was focused around the topic of so-called “Soft Skills” and created space for students to gain a fuller understanding of the spectrum of abilities required of leaders behind the scenes, from daily diplomacy to active listening.
The range of speakers that the McKenna Centre hosted this year was broad and cross-cutting, unified by one core principle: that the speakers provoke self-reflection and dialogue about issues that are important to our students and our society. They included:
Bruce Campbell, the former Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, one of Canada’s leading policy research institutes;
Imre Szeman, Jeff Diamanti, and Jennifer Wenzel, whose work probes ways in which we can undertake an energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables;
Tina Oh, a first-year Master of Environmental Studies student at Dalhousie who received the 2018 Brower Youth Award for her leadership in the environmental movement; and
The StFX History Department welcomed Dr. Eric McDuffie, whose research interests include the African diaspora, the Midwest, Black feminism, Black queer theory, Black radicalism, urban history, and Black masculinity. The McKenna Centre helped support the event financially.
Additionally, the McKenna Centre supported three longer-term endeavours:
The McKenna Fellowship program, which funds recent StFX graduates interested in public policy and leadership for sustainable development. Interns spend several weeks on the campus at StFX prior to engaging in two separate, four-month internships in Ottawa, either as policy analysts or assistants to senior managers in government departments or agencies;
LEAD 100, a strategic communication, media, and public relations course. All year, students have participated in this extracurricular course as a means of developing their communication and leadership skills beyond the traditional classroom; and
The McKenna Scholar in Residence program. The inaugural scholar, Dr. Adolph J. Reed, Jr., is a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania whose research interests include American and Afro-American politics and political thought, urban politics, and American political development. During his time at the McKenna Centre in November, he conducted workshops, met with students, and delivered a keynote lecture to the broader campus community.
Most recently, the StFX physics department hosted the star-studded Atlantic University Physics Association Conference, organized by StFX students. The McKenna Centre helped support the conference financially. AUPAC was anchored by three outstanding scholars: Dr. K. Renee Horton, the first African American to earn a PhD from the University of Alabama in Material Science, has worked for NASA since 2009 and currently serves as the Space Launch System Lead Metallic/Weld Engineer; Dr. Donna Strickland, a Canadian optical physicist and pioneer in the field of pulsed lasers who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2018; and StFX’s own, alumnus Dr. Allan MacDonald, a physics professor at the University of Texas at Austin, who received the 2020 Wolf Prize in Physics for his groundbreaking work in a field known as twistronics.
The Honourable Frank McKenna ’70, whose efforts brought the eponymous centre into fruition in 2011, was the president of the Students’ Union at StFX during tumultuous times. The cultivation of student leadership is close to his heart, and when the centre opened, he noted that the “McKenna Centre isn’t bringing leadership to StFX. Instead, it is bringing a centre to a university which has a long tradition of leadership.”
The McKenna Centre, under the guidance of Dr. Nilges, is enjoying certainly doing just that. The activities of the centre for the 2020-2021 academic year are in the planning stages, but one thing is certain: they will all, in large or small ways, contribute to the legacy of student leadership at StFX.
“Latinx Youth Response to the ‘Trump Effect,’” will be the subject of the StFX Jules Léger Lecture Series to be delivered by Dr. Nilda Flores-González at StFX on Thursday, February 27 at 5 p.m. in Schwartz 152.
Dr. Flores-González is a professor and associate director of the Sociology Program at the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University. Her current research explores the effects of racialization on the ways in which youth understand national belonging.
Professor Flores-González is the author of Citizens but not Americans: Race and Belonging among Latino Millennials (NYU Press, 2017), and School Kids, Street Kids: Identity Development in Latino Students (Teachers College Press 2002), co-editor of Marcha: Latino Chicago in the Immigrant Rights Movement (University of Illinois Press 2010) and co-editor of Immigrant Women Workers in the Neoliberal Era (University of Illinois Press 2013).
While on campus, Dr. Flores-González will have office hours on Friday, February 28 from 10-11 a.m. in Mulroney Hall 4032, and will deliver a workshop on February 28 from 11:30 a.m. 12:30 p.m. in Mulroney Hall 3030 titled, “Latinos as “Real” Americans.” Discussion will focus on a chapter from Dr. Flores González’ book Citizens but not Americans.
Scholars have shown an increase in racial discrimination and hate crimes since Trump’s election— what is dubbed the “Trump effect.” The Pew Research Center found that nearly half of Latinxs report that discrimination based on their ethnicity and/or race has worsened since Trump’s election. Dr. Flores-González will speak on how Latinxs experience and respond to this increasingly hostile climate remains in question.
The lecture series and workshop are sponsored by StFX Jules Léger Fund, the StFX Department of Modern Languages in collaboration with the Human Rights and Equity Office, the Departments of History, Sociology, Political Science and Development Studies, Women and Gender Studies, Public Policy and Governance Programs.
Jacqueline Aucoin, a senior BSc human kinetics student from Glace Bay, Cape Breton has won the cost of her X-Ring by participating in an annual survey for senior students that gauges student satisfaction and experience.
The survey is administered by the Academic Vice-President and Provost’s office and the Office of Institutional Analysis. It collects data on all aspects of the student experience from academics to extracurriculars from a senior student perspective.
All those who participate are eligible for a prize draw to win the cost of their X-Ring.
Pictured here, StFX Academic Vice-President and Provost Dr. Tim Hynes makes the presentation to Ms. Aucoin.
StFX’s 19th President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Andrew Hakin and his wife Linda had their first chance to meet members of the StFX community on Feb. 24, while they were visiting campus, during a meet-and-greet reception held in Mulroney Hall, Joyce Family Atrium. Dr. Hakin will officially begin his tenure on July 1, 2020.
During the event, Dr. Hakin, who was announced as StFX’s incoming President on Feb. 13, spoke about what enticed him to the university.
“What attracts me to StFX?” he asked, answering his own question, noting StFX’s storied history, how iconic the university is in the country, and the fact that what is said in For The People, Dr. James Cameron’s history of the university, really captures the essence of the university—it is for the people.
“It’s an institution that gives back and builds community.
“StFX is a vehicle for social transformation. One of the best in the country. That is what attracts me to you.”
Never has society needed leaders than it does at this moment in time, he said. Building a better society is not something we do part time. It demands full engagement.
We want to prepare students for these challenging environments, he said.
Dr. Hakin spoke about how important StFX’s academic mission is and how important the faculty, knowledge translators and creators, are to help move the institution forward. He spoke about the role of alumni, whose support is crucial, and of the students themselves.
“The students are the lifeblood of this institution. They are the reason we are here. We are here to support them.
“They are the architects of that social transformation,” he said.
“I feel incredibly proud to be part of this community of StFX,” he said, noting he is mindful of the commitment he is taking on, and that the challenge is one he will take on wholeheartedly.
“We will move forward together.”
StFX Students’ Union president Cecil VanBuskirk offered a welcome on behalf of the student body.
“I am so glad to know generations of students will benefit from your leadership,” he noted, as he also welcomed a number of people to the podium to present welcoming tokens: a tartan blanket with the StFX crest on behalf of StFX alumni, a StFX tie on behalf of StFXAUT, and StFX sweaters presented on behalf of students. Dr. and Mrs. Hakin were also introduced to Father Stanley MacDonald, one of StFX’s most loyal alumni.
StFX Academic Vice-President Dr. Tim Hynes, acting on behalf of Interim President Dr. Kevin Wamsley who couldn’t be in attendance, acted as emcee. Dr. Hynes noted that Dr. Hakin will be more formally welcomed to StFX during an installation ceremony this summer, Today is rather a more informal welcome to the StFX family and the StFX community, he said.
Mary Lou O’Reilly, vice chair of the StFX Board of Governors and a member of the StFX Presidential Search Committee, also welcomed Dr. Hakin and his wife Linda, noting the committee led a thorough and comprehensive process to identify just the right leader, and Dr. Hakin personifies the values of academic excellence and community engagement, values of StFX.
“We are so glad to have you here,” she said. “We welcome you to our StFX family.”
Bridget Way-Brackenbury, a fourth year StFX human kinetics student from Kingston, ON, has been selected for the 2020-21 cohort of the Pathy Foundation Fellowship. She will work in Antigonish, NS, with X-Project to educate and train a team of Afro-Nova Scotian and Mi’kmaq youth to create physical literacy programming for other youth in their own communities.
X-Project is a student-run society that offers group educational assistance, recreational opportunities, and youth leadership training for Afro-Nova Scotian and Mi’kmaq youth. Ms. Way-Brackenbury’s project will utilize a youth-centered model and culturally relevant practices already in operation at X-Project with a greater aim to reduce inequities in health and education.
Her initiative is expected to expand the practices and connections developed by X-Project and support physical and health literacy and leadership with youth in rural Nova Scotian communities. This project has the power to create physical literacy programming that focuses on creating a culture of empowerment and support through youth-adult partnerships, peer relationships, community connections and experiential learning.
The Pathy Foundation Fellowship provides community-focused experiential learning opportunities for graduating students to become active and effective change-makers, bringing new ideas and working closely with communities to foster sustainable and positive social change in Canada and around the world.
The Board of Governors of St. Francis Xavier University is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Andrew Hakin as the University’s 19th President and Vice-Chancellor.
Dr. Hakin comes to StFX from the University of Lethbridge where he began as a faculty member in 1989 and has served as Provost and Vice President (Academic) since 2007. During his tenure, Dr. Hakin led the strategy to redefine the University of Lethbridge as a destination university with a strong focus on undergraduate and graduate student experience, leading to important advances in academic programming and significant growth in enrolment, both domestic and international. A champion of diversity and inclusion, he has been recognized for his contributions to education within Indigenous communities.
His selection as President and Vice-Chancellor resulted from a search that was supported by Odgers Berndtson, an internationally-renowned executive search firm.
“StFX’s Board of Governors and the Presidential Search Committee led a thorough and comprehensive process to identify the right leader who exemplifies the values of academic excellence, community engagement and visionary leadership – values that are core to who we are at StFX,” said Mike Boyd, Chair of the Presidential Selection Committee, and of the StFX Board of Governors.
“Dr. Hakin personifies these values, and understands the heritage and close community relationships that continue to make StFX such a strong university. He is a highly experienced and proven leader with an impressive record of improving the student experience, building academic programs and services, and increasing enrolment. Under Andy’s leadership, we will further strengthen StFX’s commitment to academic excellence.”
“I am incredibly honoured to step into this exciting role at one of Canada’s strongest and proudest undergraduate universities,” said Dr. Hakin. “StFX has an exceptional tradition of academic excellence and community partnership, and I’m looking forward to building on these strengths as President and Vice-Chancellor. My wife Linda and I are excited for our move to Antigonish and Canada’s beautiful east coast.”
Dr. Hakin holds a PhD in chemistry from the University of Leicester, in the UK. He has held a number of leadership roles before becoming Provost and Vice-President (Academic), including President of the University of Lethbridge faculty association, Chair of the University’s Chemistry and Biochemistry Department, and Associate Vice-President (Academic.) He was awarded the University of Lethbridge’s Distinguished Teacher Award in 2000, the Stig Sunnor Memorial Award for research achievement, awarded by the International Calorimetry Conference in 2003, and is a member and graduate of the Royal Society of Chemistry. Dr. Hakin and his wife Linda are the parents of Abbey, an elementary school teacher in Calgary, and Callum, a fourth-year student in the Dhillon School of Business at the University of Lethbridge.
Dr. Hakin joins StFX during a period of tremendous momentum as the university experiences continued growth in student enrolment in each of its core faculties – Arts, Sciences, Business and Education. Most recently, the university celebrated the grand opening of the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government and Mulroney Hall, for which $100 million was raised to develop Canada’s leading undergraduate program in public policy and governance, create unique research opportunities, and introduce state-of-the-art academic facilities for students and faculty.
Dr. Kevin B. Wamsley will continue serving as Interim President until Dr. Hakin assumes his duties as President and Vice-Chancellor on July 1, 2020. At that time, Dr. Wamsley will resume his role as StFX’s Academic Vice President and Provost.
“Kevin accepted the task of Interim President without hesitation and fulfilled the role tremendously well, advancing a number of important initiatives and garnering many accolades from the StFX community,” said Mr. Boyd. “I am grateful that he will continue as Interim President until Dr. Hakin begins his tenure, and that going forward he will continue to play a critical role on our senior management team as Academic Vice President and Provost. On behalf of the entire StFX community, I would like to thank Kevin for his leadership this year.”
A group of StFX students and immersion leaders are poised to commence Immersion Service Learning placements that range from visiting important WWII and Holocaust sites in Europe to working in a cloud forest community in Ecuador.
Twenty eight students will travel over the February Reading Week break to Poland and Germany, Ecuador, and Peru while a further 20 students will travel to Belize, L’Arche Ottawa and Europe in late April or May.
StFX Service Learning has facilitated immersion experiences for the past 25 years, providing students with opportunities to grow as global citizens. Immersion connects academic theory with real world experience through hands-on learning alongside different cultural communities in national and international locations.
Fourth year biology student Emma Dwyer will take part in the Peru experience where participants will journey into the Andes to work with Nexos Comunitarios, a non-profit organization working with isolated communities, building human and social capital to achieve sustainable solutions.
“I am most looking forward to learning about the culture in Peru and the community's history. I am excited to work with the children there and hopefully make fast friends with the community. I am also extremely excited to visit the world heritage site, Machu Picchu.”
This is Ms. Dwyer’s third Immersion Service Learning trip. She participated in the Belize trip in her second year and the Germany and Poland experience in her third year.
“I am a science student, but I am also very interested in global history, culture and language. Service Learning has given me the opportunity to learn about these things in the real world outside of my degree here at StFX. Even as a science student, I have been able to apply my Immersion Service Learning experiences to many of my classes,” she says.
“I feel this program has made me a better student and a better global citizen. I believe that it is important to learn about the world and the best way to do it is through immersion learning.”
“As a development studies professor, and someone passionate about equitable and sustainable development, I’m very excited to take StFX students to Ecuador this year,” says StFX development studies professor Dr. Kim Burnett, Immersion leader for the group that will travel to the Ecuadorian cloud forest.
“Students will get to see firsthand the rich insights and knowledge located within communities in the Global South to advance sustainable and equitable development. Our trip will expose students to many important development projects, including integrated agricultural production systems that rely on local agricultural knowledge and sustainable production methods, the impacts of eco-tourism on rural communities, and to the intricacies of the natural environment in Ecuador’s Cloud Forest, and the importance of biodiversity to thriving ecosystems.
“I’m most excited for the fact that most of the students who I will be travelling with do not come from development studies. I’m excited to witness their experiences in the Global South, and the things they learn about the complexities of development and the centrality of empowering communities in developing countries to generate social, economic and ecological change. And for the students I’ve worked with from development studies, I feel fortunate to be a part of their own educational growth as they experience the “realities” of development for the first time. I know this experience will be transformative for all the students involved, and for me as well.”
Additionally, Immersion Service Learning experiences will see students bearing witness to history in Germany and Poland; learning about natural resources and community development in Belize; and in Ottawa, joining a bilingual L’Arche community, sharing daily life and activities with developmentally disabled adults.
Also this May, a group of StFX students will be joined by students from the Maple League schools, to participate in the three credit course “the Holocaust and Now.” Students will spend an immersive two weeks in Germany, Poland and Prague participating in unique immersive learning experiences.
For more information on Service Learning, please visit the website http://www2.mystfx.ca/service-learning/