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Nova Scotia Health and Wellness Minister cuts the ribbon at grand opening of StFX lab that measures cognitive abilities in the brain

Mon, 2018-12-17 10:25
Nova Scotia Minister of Health and Wellness the Hon. Randy Delorey (third from left) cuts the ribbon at the grand opening of the Applied Neuro-Cognitive Research (ANChoR) Laboratory at StFX. Also pictured, l-r, are Dean of Science and psychology professor Dr. Petra Hauf, PhD candidate Megan MacGillivray, human kinetics professor Dr. Melanie Lam, psychology professor Dr. Lindsay Berrigan, fourth year honours psychology and biology student Tessa Anzai, lab research technician Ashley Francis, and Dean of Arts Dr. Karen Brebner.

The Hon. Randy Delorey, Nova Scotia Minister of Health and Wellness was on campus Dec. 14, 2018 to officially cut the ribbon during the grand opening of the Applied Neuro-Cognitive Research (ANChoR) Laboratory, where three StFX faculty are researching and measuring  cognitive abilities in the brain.

Funding support of $40,000 each from the Province of Nova Scotia (Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust), as well as the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) was used to acquire new advanced research equipment. The lab is equipped with electroencephalography (EEG) technology, which records the electrical activity of the brain, and enables faculty to research the biological systems that support how people think. 

StFX psychology professor Dr. Lindsay Berrigan, human kinetics professor Dr. Mel Lam, and Dean of Science and psychology professor Dr. Petra Hauf each carry out differing cognitive neuroscience research in the lab. The research programs are diverse, reflecting the unique background of each of the team members. 

Anchor Lab opening 2.jpg

StFX psychology professor Dr. Lindsay Berrigan (left) speaks with Minister Randy Delorey about the research happening in the  ANChoR Lab

 The lab was created, they say, to investigate the biological systems involved in a variety of cognitive abilities, such as how we process information from our environment, movement control, attention, learning, memory, using electroencephalography (EEG) and event-related potentials (ERPs).

The researchers say they are capable of studying these abilities across the lifespan, from infancy to old age, and in individuals affected by developmental disorders such as autism, Down syndrome, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis. 

“Support from the Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust (NSRIT), CFI, and others allowed us to move beyond studying these cognitive abilities using only behavioural observation to now also measure how the brain is functioning, in turn determining the biological activity related to our cognitive skills. This research will have important benefits for Nova Scotians,” they say.

“For example, understanding biological constraints on our ability to attend to and remember new information can inform education curriculum and training programs. Furthermore, understanding the changes in brain function that cause cognitive difficulties for people with the aforementioned disorders and diseases will help us to improve healthcare services. Our research has the potential to improve diagnostic measures, to develop effective rehabilitation programs, and to provide valuable information in the development of new medications.”

Dr. Berrigan investigates how cognitive abilities are influenced by diseases and disorders, such as multiple sclerosis. The goals of her research include refining methods of identifying cognitive dysfunction, improving cognitive health, and ultimately, to improving patients’ quality of life. 

Dr. Lam’s research seeks to answer the question “how does the brain receive, organize, and understand sensory input for action?” Her research explores the cognitive and neural processes that support action prediction and action planning when two or more people perform a task together. 

The research conducted by Dr. Hauf focuses on the link of motor development and cognitive development in infants, and the impact of motor experience on cognitive functions essential for movement perception, object exploration, and action understanding. 

Minister Delorey noted the funding support is a testament to the quality and caliber of the research. As well, he noted strengths of the lab include cross-department and cross-institutional collaboration opportunities and the involvement of undergraduate and master’s students in high-end technology and research. The research, he says, aligns well with the province’s priorities and vision. 

StFX philosophy professor invited visiting professor in China

Fri, 2018-12-14 14:08
StFX philosophy professor Dr. William Sweet with Renmin University students and faculty

StFX philosophy professor Dr. William Sweet was recently invited to serve as a Visiting Professor in the School of Philosophy at Renmin University in China.

Prof. Sweet was invited under Renmin University's International Frontier Faculty Training Program, whereby an outstanding overseas scholar is invited to the university to give a course of lectures, aimed at providing Chinese academics with the latest academic research on issues of contemporary concern. Dr. Sweet gave a series of lectures on normative ethical theory and the place of intercultural philosophy. 

His Visiting Professorship followed on an earlier trip to China this year in August, where he lectured at Shandong University, in Jinan, at the Beijing Institute of Buddhism Culture, and at the World Congress of Philosophy in Beijing.

Renmin University is one of China's leading universities, devoted primarily to the humanities and social sciences, and one of the elite "985" group (so designated by Chinese President Deng Xiaoping in September 1985), that was "established to promote the development and reputation of the Chinese higher education system." Its School of Philosophy has some 80 faculty members, including over a dozen in the area of ethics alone. 

During his time in China, Prof. Sweet also met with scholars from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, with graduate and post-doctoral students from philosophy, politics, and law, at Renmin, and, later, with faculty from Changzhou University and from the School of Business Administration of the Suzhou University of Science and Technology, where he also gave an invited lecture. Dr. Sweet was particularly impressed by the students who, he said, were among the best that he has met.

 

Provincial government recognizes StFX contribution to northeastern Nova Scotia; Additional $3.95 million funding is an investment in the community

Fri, 2018-12-14 10:29

On Friday, December 14, St. Francis Xavier University and leaders within the Town and County of Antigonish applauded the provincial government’s $3.95 million dollar increase to the university’s annual operating funding. 

“This announcement is tremendous news for StFX. On behalf of the StFX Board of Governors, I want to thank the Premier, the Minister of Advanced Labour and Education for the Province of Nova Scotia and local MLA, Randy Delorey for their vision, leadership and commitment to post-secondary education within the province,” said Mike Boyd, Chair, StFX Board of Governors. “I also wish to acknowledge the work of StFX staff under the leadership of Dr. Kent MacDonald who, for over two years, worked tirelessly on this file.”

The funding will be added directly to the university’s base operating grant, taking effect within the 2018-2019 fiscal year. 

“I’ve spoken with Mayor Boucher and Warden McCarron, and together with the university, we are so very pleased with this decision of the government,” says Dr. Kent MacDonald, President and Vice Chancellor of StFX University. “It signals to us that this provincial government understands and appreciates that by investing in StFX, the government is investing in an economic, social and cultural driver for the town and county of Antigonish, the northeastern region of Nova Scotia, and the province.”

"The StFX Students’ Union was excited to hear about the funding announcement on the increase to the base-operating grant for the university,” said StFX Students’ Union President Rebecca Mesay. “I’m very pleased to see funding that will go to areas that directly support students.”

In December, 2017, a report was released that outlined StFX’s $486 million economic impact to the province of Nova Scotia in 2016-17. The report concluded that for every $1 invested in the university, StFX generates $15 in return to the province. 

Together We Can launches at StFX; aims to improve girls’ positive identity

Thu, 2018-12-13 16:02
L-r, StFX psychology professor Kara Thompson (left), StFX education professor Dr. Chris Gilham, registered nurse and NBCC faculty member Stephanie Ruckstuhl, Strait Regional Centre for Education co-ordinator of programs and policy Wanda Fougere and Faye Fraser, Schools Plus Community Outreach worker and former Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre staff member at the StFX launch of Together We Can

Together We Can, a new girls empowerment program, has launched at StFX. 

And on Dec. 5, 2018, project partners gathered on campus to celebrate the milestone, and to look ahead to research work aimed at helping pre-teen girls maintain their self-esteem and self-confidence during a time when research shows their social and emotional health tends to drops. 

Together We Can is the result of a three-year project led by the New Brunswick Community College (NBCC) and StFX that focused on the challenges young girls in rural areas face, and the interventions that help improve or maintain positive identity.

Stephanie Ruckstuhl, a registered nurse and NBCC faculty member with the practical nursing and allied health programs, started the program after seeing research which showed the severe drop-off in positive self identity numbers for girls in Canada, between Grade 6 and Grade 9.

Over the past three years, the project used StFX education students and NBCC licensed practical nursing students, as well as staff from the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre (AWRC) to act as peer mentors and deliver workshops to girls in Grade 7 and 8 in schools in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

The partners received three years in funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) to test the effectiveness of the Girls’ Action Foundation's Amplify program, which it used in this project.  

“This is important upstream work because we know nationally that girls’ sense of positive identity significantly drops through adolescence. We also know that girls’ reporting of mental health problems increases in this adolescent range,” said StFX education professor Dr. Chris Gilham, one of the program partners. “The program focuses on strategies and activities aimed to empower young girls and we have strong evidence to show it works, especially for vulnerable, at-risk girls.”

Dr. Gilham says the program is recognized by the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness, and the Department of Education as an evidenced-based social-emotional program, and that the Strait Regional Centre for Education has taken it up in earnest. He says they would love to see more school boards across the Maritimes pick it up. He says they are starting a roll-out phase where they will mail information to administrators in all Atlantic Canada schools, as well as the majority of schools across the country.

The Tides of Time: StFX English professor publishes book celebrating rural Nova Scotia

Wed, 2018-12-12 11:50
Dr. Suzanne Stewart

Dr. Suzanne Stewart, a StFX English professor, has long been fascinated with nature, rural life and the changing seasons. Now, she’s ably parlayed those interests into a new book that celebrates life in rural Nova Scotia. 

The Tides of Time: A Nova Scotia Book of Seasons, published by Pottersfield Press in November 2018, is set in northeastern Nova Scotia and Cape Breton and presents portraits of contemporary labourers whose harvests mark the rhythms of the seasonal year. 

Each of its 12 chapters are monthly essays that tell the story of a labour unique to that month, including jobs like tuna fishing, cranberry farming, maple syrup production, sheep farming, beekeeping, lobster fishing, and foraging for wild mushrooms. 

“It’s a book in part about nature. I’m quite attracted to the beauty of nature,” says Dr. Stewart who holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction from the University of King’s College, as well as a PhD in English literature with a specialization in the poetry of the Romantic period.

More specifically, she says, The Tides of Time is a book about rural life. 

“It’s meant to be a book that celebrates what people are doing. I want to show the deep knowledge, the attachment and integrity, and their devotion to what they do.”

Dr. Stewart says she was inspired to write the book in part from reading the Labours of the Month Calendar she discovered in the medieval The Book of Hours, a widely popular book of its time. 

She says every month of the year in the calendar had a particular task set out, depicting rural activities that commonly took place during that month. 

“What I liked about it was it was so determined by seasonal change and the rhythm of time.” 

It’s an area to which she’s particularly drawn. She in fact received a bursary to attend the Wordsworth Summer Conference, in Grasmere, England, in August, 2018, where she presented the paper "'Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee': Dorothy Wordsworth and the Months of the Year."

Both the concept of time and rural life peaked her interest.

Romantic literature, her area of specialization, is known to elevate and celebrate a rural way of life. 

She says she was also intrigued by the concept of time and the crisis of time facing today’s society where many lives have become so accelerated and busy, with some losing the natural rhythms of time. 

Dr. Stewart says she wanted to see if she could construct her own Nova Scotia labour of the month calendar, bringing a literary lens to her observations of rural life. She set out to see if she could tie each month of the year to a monthly labour or harvest. 

She started by talking with vendors at the Antigonish Farmers’ Market and expanded from there, travelling across the region to meet with farmers and fishers and producers. She turned each visit into a story. Each story, she says, details both the actual labour and the personality of the labourer. She also drew on years and years of notes and attentiveness to the seasons, to the details and delicacy of nature, to vividly paint the descriptive elements of each season. 

In The Tides of Time, “Stewart revitalizes an older, contemplative view of the sacredness of time,” reads the book’s jacket description. 

“In keeping with the genre of nature writing, her book offers a meticulous way of looking at the world as she blends first-hand observations of seasonal change with stories of the labourers. The Tides of Time offers a refuge from the rush of urban life. It turns to the seasons, rural life and literature for an alternative mode of time, which is fluid, rhythmic, and gentle.”

“Nova Scotia suits this tradition so nicely because our seasons are so distinct,” she says. “We’re able to witness the seasonal changes so nicely here and to see how rural life is tied to those changes.”

The Tides of Time is Dr. Stewart’s first book. It is available online through Indigo and locally at Coles in the Antigonish Market Square mall, the Five to a Dollar, and the Antigonish Heritage Museum. 

She is already at work on a second book. 

 

StFX alumnus the Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney delivers powerful presidential eulogy

Tue, 2018-12-11 10:12
The Right Honourable Brian Mulroney

The Right Honourable Brian Mulroney, Canada’s 18th Prime Minister and a StFX alumnus from the Class of 1959, delivered a powerful and emotional tribute to former U.S. President George H.W. Bush as the 41st president was laid to rest in a state funeral last week in Washington, D.C.

The two leaders had formed a close friendship during their terms in office that continued through the years. 

During his moving remarks, Mr. Mulroney spoke eloquently about Mr. Bush’s legacy and the impact he had not only on the United States, but the world. 

We’re pleased to share a copy of this tribute, Mr. Mulroney's official eulogy of President Bush, as well as a video of the tribute. 

Speech - Eulogy - Pres. G.H.W. Bush.pdf Speech - Eulogy - Pres. G.H.W. Bush.pdf

 

 

Call to action: StFX hosts National Day of Remembrance ceremony

Thu, 2018-12-06 13:39
L-r, ceremony co-hosts Cst. Deepak Prasad and Iffat Sohi

Gender-based violence ends when we as a community stand together and say no. 

That was the message from RCMP Cst. Deepak Prasad, one of the co-hosts of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women commemoration ceremony that was held at StFX in the Schwartz Auditorium on Dec. 6, 2018.

“What will be your call to action?” Cst. Prasad asked the students, staff, faculty and community members gathered for the annual ceremony that is itself a call to action against gender-based violence 

We as a community need to work on the issue, echoed ceremony co-host Iffat Sohi, equity student representative, StFX Students’ Union. 

December 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada. Established in 1991 by the Parliament of Canada, the day marks the anniversary of the murders in 1989 of 14 young women at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal.

As well as commemorating the 14 young women whose lives ended in an act of gender-based violence that shocked the nation, December 6 represents an opportunity for Canadians to reflect on the phenomenon of violence against women in our society.

“Although this incident happened 29 years ago, gender-based violence remains a reality,” Ms. Sohi said. 

Keynote speaker Dolly Mosher, Domestic Violence Case Coordinator, Halifax Regional Police Victim Services Unit, provided a Nova Scotia perspective on violence against women. 

She spoke about Silent Witness Nova Scotia, a program established in 2014 to provide education in the community around domestic violence as well as education around how to get help. 

Ms. Mosher provided sobering statistics on gender-based violence in Nova Scotia since 1990, including the fact that up until September 2018 there have been 62 confirmed intimate partner homicides in the province. 

“Anyone can experience domestic violence,” she said, noting it impacts all ages, all occupations and all geographic areas. 

Cst. Prasad and Ms. Sohi listed resources for help and options that are available in the community. 

Second year English honours student Emma Kuzmyk received a standing ovation after she performed an original poem during the ceremony.  

Day of Remembrance scholarships 2018.jpg StFX Dean of Science Dr. Petra Hauf, Sarah Murrin, Claudia Fulton and Cst. Deepak Prasad

Also during the ceremony, StFX engineering students Sarah Murrin and Claudia Fulton were recognized as the recipients respectively of the StFX Memorial Scholarship for Women in Engineering and the General Motors of Canada Ltd. Women in Science Bursary, awarded for leadership potential and academic standard.

New agreement opens borders to new students and scholars

Wed, 2018-12-05 16:16
StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald and Director of the Education Bureau of Qingbaijiang, Guo Wanjun, sign an educational partnership

A new agreement signed between St. Francis Xavier University and a Chinese educational delegation will strengthen the two countries’ scholarly exchange as well as enhance StFX recruitment in China.

The agreement was signed by StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald and Mr. Guo Wanjun, Director of the Education Bureau of Qingbaijiang. The agreement will allow for new opportunities for recruitment and encourage visiting scholars and faculty to look at other possible areas of cooperation in research and academic programs. Joint conferences, seminars, workshops and forums are other possibilities for this new relationship.

Mutual beneficial opportunities in international education will strengthen the bond between Canada and China and support faculty and students in fulfilling their academic pursuits across borders. 

Rankin School of Nursing student wins Public Health Student Award

Tue, 2018-12-04 14:22
L-r, Charlotte Curley and Rankin School of Nursing professor Sionnach Lukeman

Just days before her StFX graduation with an honours degree in the Advanced Option (AO) nursing program, Charlotte Curley, a StFX Rankin School of Nursing student who graduated on Dec. 1, 2018 at Fall Convocation, had more to celebrate when she learned she had won the Marie McCully Collier Population and Public Health Student Award from the Public Health Association of Nova Scotia.  

Ms. Curley was in competition for the honour with undergraduate and graduate students across Nova Scotia. 

“I was honoured and excited to receive this award. This award affirms the work I have done so far and indicates that I am on the right path for my future career. I feel that it reflects my potential in the field of public and population health,” says Ms. Curley who in January 2019 will start her career as a registered nurse on the maternity unit in the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital in Fredericton, NB. 

In the new year, she will also edit and submit her thesis for publication in the Canadian Journal of Public Health. She also hopes to present her research at the Canadian Public Health Association annual conference in April 2019.

Her supervisor, Rankin School of Nursing professor Sionnach Lukeman, had much praise for Ms. Curley, who was also the only student in her AO class to complete an honours thesis.  

“Typically, students in our accelerated program do not do a thesis due to the demands of the condensed program. However, Charlotte presented a case for how she could manage, and we developed a plan to make it work. While doing this research project, she was also in my “advanced population and public health” course, and I could see how her passion, dedication and intellectual capacity was working together in a symbiotic way,” Prof. Lukeman says.  

“Her integration of the material both in class and in her research project was exceptional for an undergraduate student. Charlotte has submitted an abstract to the Canadian Public Health Association conference and will be using this award to attend the conference in Ottawa this spring.” 

Prof. Lukeman says as a new graduate who is considering a masters and working in public health, the opportunity to participate in the dissemination of research results with leading researchers in this field in Canada will be invaluable. 

“I believe this award will build Charlotte’s capacity for working in public health in the future. It is this kind of mentorship that is crucial at a time when capacity for working at the population level is needed more than ever. Charlotte is an excellent example of the capacity for research, innovation, and leadership in the discipline of nursing.”

Ms. Curley says by completing her honours thesis, she has achieved two important professional goals. 

“I had the privilege of working alongside an incredible teacher and role model, Sionnach Lukeman. We developed a symbiotic working relationship and I now have a valuable personal and professional relationship with her,” she says.

“Through my honours thesis, I have started to shed light on the important topic of public health reform in Canada. My research has initiated a platform for future research and development in this field.”

Ms. Curley, originally from Tara, ON, has lived in Antigonish since 2011 and has completed two honours degrees. “I feel that StFX has given me incredible research experience and invaluable relationships with faculty members and administrators across disciplines. My StFX experience has set the stage for my future. In my time here, I have developed skills in communication, work ethic, networking, collaboration and community involvement. I can confidently say that these skills will stay with me wherever I go.”

StFX Day 2018: “It feels like a dream come true”

Mon, 2018-12-03 15:56

It’s a symbol of excellence, leadership, community and success, and on Monday, Dec. 3, 2018, it became very real for about 900 senior St. Francis Xavier University students who received their coveted X-Rings during a moving ceremony in StFX’s Charles V. Keating Centre on the feast day of St. Francis Xavier. 

The X-Ring, which represents each student’s unique journey at StFX, must be earned to be worn, and is awarded to senior students annually on December 3 in a ceremony replete with years of tradition and a touch of magic. 

XRing 3 2018.jpg

“It feels like a dream come true. It’s a lot of emotion,” several StFX students said moments before members of the Class of 2019, clad in black gowns, walked one by one to the main stage to receive their X-Ring—a moment they’ve been anticipating for four years, and in some cases, long before they even stepped onto campus. 

Energy and excitement were palpable across campus.

XRing 2018.jpg

“Finally,” StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald said in his opening remarks. “I was driving up the street today and saw ‘zero days to X-Ring’,” he said, referencing the countdown signs that can be seen in windows across town. 

The students today are joining a very special community, and a lot of people have come a long way to join in this celebration, he said as he noted that greetings and well wishes have filled social media from across the country and as from as far afield as Sweden to the Czech Republic. 

Dr. MacDonald said as he took time to reflect on what this ring represents, he came back to the words of former StFX English professor Dr. Pat Walsh in the Prayers of the Xaverian Family. 

“You have earned this ring,” Dr. Walsh had said, “but the right to wear it must be earned every day for the rest of your life.”

Dr. MacDonald encouraged the Class of 2019 to remember those words and to make this ring a symbol that brings them always back to the values of looking beyond yourself and believing that each and every one can have an impact in the communities they live in. 

It was a message echoed by guest speaker Agassou (Augy) Jones, StFX Manager, Student Experience and a StFX alumnus himself.

“It is a distinct privilege to possess the X-Ring. It also carries great responsibility,” he said as he shared what the X-Ring symbolizes and talked about how real the StFX family concept is, including the fact he has putting “this beautiful ring” on his finger every day for nearly 30 years.

Responsibly comes with wearing this very recognizable ring, he said he encouraged the senior students to commit to utilizing their academics and to socializing and serving in the communities in which they will live. 

The ceremony was highlighted by student participation. Master of ceremonies was Sarah Comandante, co-president of the senior class, and Salome Barker, with seven X-Rings in her family, offered words of welcome to this long-awaited day. 

Senior class co-president Carl Miller gave opening remarks, speaking on pride, community and commitment and officially becoming part of the Xaverian Family. 

Senior student Pheerawich Chitnelawong gave an explanation of the StFX motto, and Claire Keehan read from the writings of Dr. Moses Coady. 

Dylan Roach introduced the guest speaker and Emma Crilly gave the response. 

Students’ Union president Rebecca Mesay led the Xaverian Commitment. 

HONORARY X-RING

The honorary X-Ring, presented annually to someone who personifies the Xaverian ideal, was awarded to Dr. Jeff Orr, Dean of the StFX Faculty of Education, who received a standing ovation. 

Last month in a special private ceremony, an honorary X-Ring was presented to the late Kevin Fraser, who spent 15 years working at StFX with Sodexo as the general manager of food services. His family accepted on his behalf. 

Poignant moments were many during the ceremony. Candles bearers solemnly marched up to the main stage as live instrumental music filled the room to place the candles in an “X” formation. And at ceremony’s end as the students exited, they tapped their X-Rings on a wooden Chapel kneeler – a long-held X-Ring tradition. 

December 3rd is also celebrated around the world as alumni annually get together in their home communities to recall when they earned their X-Rings.

“Breathe it in,” StFX Alumni Association president Glenn Horne said to the Class of 2019 in bringing alumni greetings to the ceremony. “Remember how you feel in this moment.

“On behalf of all alumni, we are all proud of you and we look forward to seeing what comes next,” he said as he reminded all that the Alumni Association is always there to support them. 

StFX confers degrees and diplomas; honours academic "trailblazers" during 2018 Fall Convocation

Sat, 2018-12-01 17:00
Graduating students enter the Charles V. Keating Centre for StFX's 2018 Fall Convocation Ceremony on December 1, 2018.

Jubilant friends and family filled the Charles V. Keating Centre to watch loved ones cross the stage and receive their hard-earned degrees and diplomas at the StFX’s 2018 Fall Convocation, held December 1.  

StFX conferred close to 300 degrees and diplomas during the ceremony, including to 41 graduates of the Coady Institute Diploma in Development Leadership program. Coady graduates came from 19 countries worldwide, including the first diploma graduate from Fiji.

StFX’s Elizabeth and Thomas Rankin School of Nursing also graduated the first students in its LPN to BScN Accelerated Option (AO) program. In all, 20 students were among the first graduates of the AO program, students who are also Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs). 

“Each of you is unique,” said Mr. John Peacock, Chancellor of St. Francis Xavier University during his remarks to students.

“You each have your own story of struggle and achievement and your own circle of supporters. And you also have all of us here at StFX, who are with you 100% as you pursue your hopes and dreams.”

His comments were echoed by StFX President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Kent MacDonald.

“We recognize the journey many of you have taken has not been easy. There is no doubt that you have learned much, and that your faculty have prepared you well. But we also recognize that going through this journey means you have persistence, and that you are willing to do the hard work needed to achieve your goals.

“Don’t let that be lost on you.”

He also shared a simple but important piece of advice with graduates as they continue their lives and careers following their education at StFX.  

“Just be nice. I think life is much simpler and the world would be better if we all just took a little time to be nice to one another.”

StFX awarded honorary degrees to Dr. John F. Dewey, an expert in plate tectonics research known as one of the first geologists to apply plate tectonic theory to specific mountain belts, and to Dr. Thomas De Koninck, a scholar, humanist and author widely recognized for his work in human dignity and his writing on the philosophy of education.

In his address to students, Dr. Dewey noted that his first visit to Antigonish was 54 years ago when he completed fieldwork on geological formations in Antigonish County. He spoke about his happiness to return to the area, and his pride in receiving an honorary degree from StFX.

“I feel privileged to receive this,” he said. “StFX is one of the very few institutions that hasn’t lost its traditions, nor forgotten the meaning of the word ‘university.’

“To me, the value of a university is in the interactions between its students and faculty. When you take the best students and best faculty, a special magic happens. StFX has continued this great tradition of valuing students and faculty, and what they can accomplish together.”

In his remarks, Dr. De Koninck spoke about the university as “the powerhouse of freedom,” noting the role of universities in helping ensure healthy democratic societies across the world.

“How can we prevent the decline of democracy?” he asked. “The answer is so often education.”

Dr. De Koninck noted StFX’s reputation as a university that helps students think critically, a skill which he says is vital in helping to create and maintain global freedom.

Also honoured during the ceremony were StFX senior human kinetics lab instructor Kelly Thompson, recipient of the 2018 Outstanding Staff Teaching Award, and StFX senior biology lab instructor Randy Lauff, recipient of the 2018 Outreach Award.    

Coady graduate Musola Cathrine Kaseketi of Zambia, delivered the address on behalf of the graduating class. She encouraged all graduates – especially her fellow Coady Institute classmates – to recall everything they’ve already overcome when facing inevitable challenges in their lives and careers.

“We have been empowered and provoked to make a difference,” she said. “To walk paths many have not followed, and support our communities in many different ways. That is our next step, to take that trip and go out to make a difference in our world.”

Glenn Horne, president of the StFX Alumni Association, congratulated the new graduates and welcomed them into the Xaverian family of alumni. He also encouraged them to use their experiences at StFX to inspire others and make a difference in the world around them.

BIOS:

2018 Honorary Degree recipient

Dr. John F. Dewey, FRS
 

Dr. John F. Dewey has been described as the leading geoscientist of his generation. He is widely known for being at the forefront of the revolution in the field of plate tectonics, and was one of the first geologists to apply plate tectonic theory to specific mountain belts. For his work, Prof. Dewey has received the most prestigious awards from numerous academic societies, including the Lyell and Wollaston Medals conferred by the Geological Society of London, the Arthur Holmes Medal from the European Union of Geosciences, and the Penrose Medal, the Geological Society of America’s most prestigious medal. He has received several honorary degrees, is a fellow of the Royal Society (FRS), and a member of the Royal Society of London and the US National Academy of Sciences. Prof. Dewey received his first doctorate from Imperial College, London, followed by D.Sc. degrees from Oxon and Canterbury. During his academic career, he held faculty positions at Cambridge, SUNY-Albany, Durham and Oxford universities as well as prestigious visiting fellowships on both sides of the Atlantic. He has authored or co-authored countless influential articles in high profile journals such as Nature and Geology, several with more than 2,000 citations, attesting to his global impact on the science. A proud field geologist, he is very familiar with the Antigonish area. His first academic position in North America took him to Arisaig, NS to instruct geological field methods for M.I.T. He has worked on every continent, and has inspired generations of students all over the world, many of whom have gone on to become academic leaders in their own right.

2018 Honorary Degree recipient

Dr. Thomas De Koninck, CM

Dr. Thomas De Koninck is an internationally-known philosopher and one of Canada’s leading academics. He has an M.A. Lit. Hum. from Oxford and a PhD from Laval University, and is currently professor emeritus at Laval University in Quebec where, before his 2015 retirement, he taught for decades and served as Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy. A scholar, humanist and author, his work bears significantly on issues essential to the betterment of society. Dr. De Koninck is perhaps best known for his studies on human dignity and for his writings in the philosophy of education. He has authored works that have received international acclaim, including De la dignité humaine, for which he won the Le Prix La Bruyère of the Académie française, the first Canadian to have received this award, and La nouvelle ignorance et le problème de la culture. His reputation as a scholar is equally matched by his reputation as a teacher, and he is known to generations of students as a mentor and guide. He has supervised an extraordinary number of masters and doctoral theses. Over the past 40 years, he has supervised 19 ‘licence’ theses, 158 MA theses and 59 doctoral theses. Dr. De Koninck is a former Rhodes Scholar and a recipient of an Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung Fellowship. He has received numerous awards, including being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. An active member and past president of the Canadian Philosophical Association, he is also a member of the Order of Canada and an Officer of the Ordre des Palmes Académiques de France. 

Awards:

2018 Outreach Award

Randy Lauff


Randy Lauff is a senior laboratory instructor in the Biology Department, where he has spent nearly 30 years, making significant contributions and inspiring students. He’s also significantly grown StFX’s zoological collection so that over 60 per cent of Nova Scotia’s mammals and breeding birds are represented; amphibians, reptiles, fish and invertebrates are also included. Specimens, collected by him or by students under his direction, have included North American and Canadian first records, provincial and Maritime firsts, significant range extensions, and documentation of introduced species. Several papers have been written using specimens from this collection. He has supervised both StFX honours students and, as a community resource person, a number of high school students. He is involved with many biological activities outside StFX, including Citizen Science data collection and participation in national and international bird surveys. He is a book reviewer for The Canadian Field-Naturalist and a former editor of Nova Scotia Birds. Active in research, receiving grants of over $50,000 since 1996, he is best known for his owl work. He found the first nests of the Boreal Owl in Nova Scotia, the only ones documented from the Maritimes in about 80 years. He is a frequent invited speaker, author of 19 peer-reviewed publications and a research associate with the Nova Scotia Museum. His favourite student is his four-year-old son Jacob who loves catching bugs and checking owl nests with him.

2018 Outstanding Staff Teaching Award - Kelly Thompson 

A senior human kinetics lab instructor at StFX since 2001, Kelly Thompson has been a physical educator for 28 years and has provided teaching progressions, technical strategies and general teaching tips for children, kinesiology students and physical education teachers. His passion is to promote physical education and literacy, gymnastics and lifelong fitness. He teaches educational gymnastics skills, principles of fitness skill classes and exercise physiology labs to StFX students. He has created four activity courses and developed one lab at StFX. In 2003, he started the popular HKIN After School Gymnastics Program, which not only provides instruction for local children, but practical teaching experiences for StFX students, who all complete Gymnastics 127. He also created and maintains an educational gymnastics website for StFX students and physical education teachers. Mr. Thompson holds a Master of Education from StFX, is a NCCP Level 4 Coach, NCCP Level 1 and 2 Course Conductor, FIG International Brevet Gymnastics official, and a certified personal trainer. He has presented at local and national conferences and has provided consulting services for the Nova Scotia School Curriculum (gymnastic PE component). He has officiated at the 2004 Olympic Games, as well as numerous world championships, Pan American Games and World University Games. Honours include Life Member Nomination, Gymnastics Canada and the Nova Scotia Official of the Year. 

Coady Institute speaker - Musola Cathrine Kaseketi

Founder and executive director of Vilole Images Productions (VIP), Musola Cathrine Kaseketi is the first Zambian female film director and an international award winner who has contributed tremendously to the film industry in Zambia. She was ushered into human rights advocacy at a very tender age. Through her journey, she has trained many Zambians in film and disability sectors including senior government officials to ensure disability is mainstreamed in all areas of development. VIP is an organization dedicated to using film as a tool for human rights advocacy by creating respect for human dignity and removing bias towards artists, women and girls with disability, and contributing towards changing lives in bringing hope to the helpless. VIP’s passion is about facilitating change to promote an inclusive, friendly society for all.

StFX welcomes two new Canada Research Chairs, exciting research opportunities in the social sciences and humanities

Fri, 2018-11-30 16:18
L-r, StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald; Dr. Katie Aubrecht, Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Health Equity and Social Justice; Central Nova MP Sean Fraser; Dr. Laura Estill, Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Digital Humanities and New Media; and Dr. Richard Isnor, StFX Associate Vice President, Research and Graduate Studies

StFX is pleased to welcome two new Canada Research Chairs to campus, Dr. Laura Estill, a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Digital Humanities and New Media; and Dr. Katie Aubrecht, a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Health Equity and Social Justice.

Both Dr. Aubrecht and Dr. Estill will each receive $500,000 over five years in funding from the Government of Canada, as well as a $20,000 per year research stipend as part of these Chairs. The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport, announced these investments on Nov. 13, on behalf of the Canada Research Chairs Program (CRCP). 

StFX held a special announcement celebration on Nov. 30 with Central Nova MP Sean Fraser in attendance. 

“It’s exciting to be here,” Mr. Fraser said as he noted to the crowd gathered that we’re here to celebrate these two new incredible talents to campus. 

“These CRC chairs have already made impressive contributions,” StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald said as he welcomed Dr. Aubrecht and Dr. Estill to StFX and thanked the Government of Canada for its tremendous support in helping make this happen. 

The Canada Research Chair program is so important, he said, as it helps complement the faculty at StFX and continues to support the research contributions made in the community. 

“We are fortunate to have attracted Dr. Aubrecht and Dr. Estill, two exceptionally talented early career scholars to StFX as Canada Research Chairs. Together, they considerably strengthen the depth of StFX research expertise in health equity and digital humanities fields,” says Dr. Richard Isnor, StFX Associate Vice President, Research and Graduate Studies.

“We are delighted that they have been successful in their Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) applications to establish new laboratories for social sciences and humanities research. Dr. Aubrecht will establish the Intersectional Disability Studies Research Lab for work on policies and practices that will enhance the quality of mental health care for diverse populations living in Atlantic Canada’s rural communities. Dr. Estill will establish the StFX Digital Humanities Research Centre to advance pedagogical research in the digital humanities, as well as facilitate collaborative research with scholars across Canada and internationally. 

“Through their efforts, Dr. Aubrecht and Dr. Estill will create exciting new research opportunities for many StFX students in the social science and humanities.”

Bios of each new Canada Research Chair follow below. 

Dr. Laura Estill, Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Digital Humanities and New Media 

Dr. Laura Estill is a newly appointed CRC in Digital Humanities and New Media in the Department of English, Faculty of Arts at StFX. Dr. Estill is an exceptional emerging scholar in this area.  

She holds a PhD in English from Wayne State University (awarded in 2010), an MA in English from the University of Toronto (2005), and a BA (honours with distinction) in drama and English from the University of Windsor (2004). Prior to her current appointment, she held a tenured academic position as associate professor of English at Texas A&M University, College Station where she was awarded a Texas A&M University College of Liberal Arts Rothrock Fellowship. She has received a Renaissance Society of America Research Fellowship held at the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford; a Texas A&M University Arts & Humanities Fellowship; and a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship, which she held at the University of Victoria’s Electronic Textual Cultures Lab. Dr. Estill has been a Visiting Scholar at the University of Massachusetts Center for Renaissance Studies and was awarded the Montague Teaching Award by the Center for Teaching Excellence at Texas A&M University.

Dr. Estill’s research has been sponsored by multiple grants at the university, federal, and international level, including the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) in Canada and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and Folger Shakespeare Library in the United States.

Dr. Estill has achieved international stature as a result of her position as editor of the World Shakespeare Bibliography (WSB) Online, a longstanding digital humanities project often called “invaluable” to Shakespeare studies. Her recent Shakespeare Quarterly article, co-written with Dominic Klyve and Kate Bridal, takes a cultural analytics approach to writing about Shakespeare (including translation, adaptation, scholarship) indexed in the WSB to gauge how Shakespeare was received from 1960-2010.  The dataset for this article was published in the Journal of Open Humanities Data, opening the door for further quantitative research in this field. Her publications have appeared in journals such as Digital Humanities Quarterly, Digital Studies/Le champ numérique, Digital Literary Studies, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, Shakespeare, and Studies in English Literature. Her monograph, Dramatic Extracts in Seventeenth-Century English Manuscripts: Watching, Reading, Changing Plays appeared in 2015; in 2016, she edited Early Modern Studies after the Digital Turn with Diane Jakacki and Michael Ullyot.

Dr. Estill has embraced a leadership role in fostering digital humanities and new media scholarship. She actively liaises with this emerging scholarly field, helping to build research networks and engaging in public humanities outreach. The nomination of Dr. Estill for this CRC will significantly enhance research strengths at StFX associated with this priority area of research. She will create new connections among StFX researchers working at the interface of humanities, digital technologies and media. Her research will contribute significantly to the development of pedagogy in this emerging area. Importantly, her vision is to create strong integration between undergraduate level teaching and research in the digital humanities locally, regionally and nationally, with the creation of a new national Canadian digital humanities research-based undergraduate certificate program (DHCanada), as well as addressing key gaps in digital humanities training and knowledge transmission in Atlantic Canada with the development of DHSI-East (Digital Humanities Summer Institute-East). These community-building projects fit strongly with the scholarly traditions of StFX. They align with the focus on remaining a primarily undergraduate liberal arts-based institution and they will result in tangible research deliverables, including the creation and dissemination of digital projects, journal articles, and an edited collection, Undergraduate Digital Humanities in Canada. DHCanada and DHSI-East will address gaps in undergraduate digital humanities training and foster student involvement in faculty research projects and original student research.

Dr. Katie Aubrecht, Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Health Equity and Social Justice

Dr. Katie Aubrecht is a newly appointed CRC in Health Equity and Social Justice in the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts at StFX. Dr. Aubrecht is an exceptional emerging scholar in this area.  

Dr. Aubrecht is a disability studies scholar and health services and social policy researcher with a PhD in sociology of education (2012) from the University of Toronto (Department of Social Justice Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education). She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from York University, and a Bachelor of Arts (first class honours) in sociology from St. Francis Xavier University. 

Dr. Aubrecht’s interdisciplinary CRC research program aims to improve the quality of care and the self-perceived health of people living in rural communities within Nova Scotia who experience mental health and marginalization on the basis of disability, age, race, ethnicity, indigeneity, sexuality, and socio-economic status. The program examines marginality and mental health, rurality and resilience across the life span as health equity and social justice issues. 

The CRC builds on Dr. Aubrecht’s previous work on person- and family-centred mental and behavioural health care practices, programs and policies, conducted at the Nova Scotia Centre on Aging and Department of Family Studies and Gerontology, Mount Saint Vincent University from 2011-2018. This work was supported by external funding from two Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) postdoctoral fellowships (2013-16/2017-18), and a Maritime Strategy for Patient Oriented Research Postdoctoral Award (2017). It is also informed by Dr. Aubrecht’s graduate research on Canadian mental health policy funded by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Canada Graduate Scholarships doctoral and master’s awards (2005/2007-2010). 

Dr. Aubrecht is actively engaged in multi-provincial equity-focused applied and arts-informed research programs; for example, as a research stream co-lead on the CIHR funded Seniors –Adding Life to Years (SALTY), which aims to improve quality in late life for people living in long-term care, their caregivers and the workers who support their care, and co-investigator on the Ontario-based SSHRC partnership project Bodies in Translation – Activist Art, Technology and Access to Life, which explores the relationship between cultivating activist art and achieving social and political justice. Dr. Aubrecht is a member of the inaugural cohort and network of CIHR Institute of Health Services and Policy Research Health System Impact Fellows. As a Fellow, from 2017-18 she worked with Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) Continuing Care Program leaders and partners on a new model of care designed to support evidence-based high-quality person and family-centered care for older people living with chronic and complex care needs in rural and urban Nova Scotia. Her research has been published in Health, Culture and Society; Review of Disability Studies: An International Journal; Canadian Journal of Disability Studies; Studies in Social Justice; Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture; Canadian Journal of Higher Education. 

As part of the CRC, Dr. Aubrecht has received funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation for her Spatializing Care: Intersectional Disability Studies Research Lab. The lab will establish a basis for intersectional disability studies research in Atlantic Canada, by developing a participatory arts-informed health research infrastructure at StFX that supports and enhances meaningful and ethical community engagement, and that connects and crosses disciplinary and sectoral boundaries, bridging medical, social and cultural approaches to mental health care. 

StFX to delay opening until 10AM today

Thu, 2018-11-29 06:08

Due to conditions related to the weather, please be advised that the university will delay opening today, Thursday, November 29, until 10:00 AM. Essential services will remain open (Morrison Hall, Security Office, cleaning, snow removal).

Liam Elbourne is StFX’s newest Rhodes Scholar

Wed, 2018-11-28 11:30
Liam Elbourne

Liam Elbourne, a Schwartz School of Business student from Halifax, NS taking joint honours in business and economics, is StFX’s newest Rhodes Scholar.

The scholarship is widely considered one of the world’s most prestigious awards, valued at over $100,000 and enabling recipients to study at the University of Oxford in England. Only 11 students from across Canada are annually selected to receive the award.  

Established under the will of Cecil Rhodes, scholarships have been awarded since 1903. Recipients are extraordinarily accomplished young people with outstanding scholastic records. Candidates undergo a rigorous application process. Selection committees for the scholarships “are looking for young leaders of outstanding intellect and character who are motivated to engage with global challenges, committed to the service of others and show promise of becoming value-driven, principled leaders for the world’s future.”

Mr. Elbourne, who graduates from StFX this spring, has enjoyed a distinguished university career. Most recently, he garnered international attention for his research. In June, he presented his paper “Shocks to Military Support and Subsequent Assassinations in Ancient Rome,” co-authored with former StFX economics professor Cornelius Christian, at the 52nd annual conference of the Canadian Economics Association at McGill University. He was the only active undergraduate student to present in a regular session at this conference, which featured almost 1,000 presenters.

The paper was subsequently published in the international peer-reviewed journal Economics Letters, a highly-respected outlet that has published the work of many past Nobel Prize recipients. Full-length stories about this research appeared in some of the world’s leading outlets, including The Smithsonian magazine, The Economist and The Telegraph. 

“Coming to university without a clear idea of what field of study I might like to pursue, I feel quite lucky to have landed in one of the top undergraduate economics programs in the country,” Mr. Elbourne says. “Not only is the teaching exceptional, but the StFX Economics Department provides students the opportunity to pursue research with their professors. Without the guidance and support of Dr. Christian and the department, the incredible summer that I just had wouldn’t have been possible.”

Mr. Elbourne is also captain of the X-Men soccer team, and volunteers extensively within the StFX and Antigonish communities.

“In my first year at StFX, I never imagined that I would be selected as a Rhodes Scholar,” Mr. Elbourne says. “My main focus was soccer and I didn’t really know what it meant to be a good student or to make an impact in the community. StFX turned out to be the perfect place for me, and for that reason I feel extremely grateful.

“My coaches, professors, and other individuals at the university were wonderful mentors to me. I was surrounded by great friends on my soccer team, along with academic programs that challenged me in many different ways. Most of all, though, I think of my parents, sister, and partner who have supported me in every way imaginable.”

Mr. Elbourne was the top ranked business student at StFX in the 2017-18 academic year with a 94.25 per cent average. Receiving annual in-house scholarships, he was a finalist last year for the Frank H. Sobey Award for Excellence in Business Studies. He received the StFX Athletic Director's Award for academic achievement in 2016-17 and is a four-time U SPORTS academic all-Canadian.

He has twice been a teaching assistant in the Department of Economics and has offered tutoring in courses across the business, economics, and mathematics departments. Now vice president of the StFX Economics Society, he aims to help build a mentorship program to be launched within the StFX Economics Department, connecting current students with StFX’s highly successful economics graduates.

Along with excelling in the classroom, he is an active StFX student leader. The AUS Student-Athlete Community Service Award recipient this past fall, he was also the 2018 StFX Male Community X-cellence award winner and was honoured as a Leader of Distinction with the StFX Leadership Academy.

In the StFX community, Mr. Elbourne has become an advocate for the prevention of sexualized violence. He served as the lone male panelist for the Contextualizing #MeToo panel discussion organized by the StFX Women's and Gender Studies department in November 2017. He also co-designed and co-facilitated a series of workshops in all StFX residences during the 2017-18 winter semester aimed at educating students on issues of consent and sexual assault. This past September, he was keynote speaker at the Antigonish March in Respect for Women and he was recently featured in the Antigonish Women's Resource Centre's initiative called ‘16 Days of Activism on Gender-Based Violence.’     

In addition, he has led the opening of two year-long Exhibitions of Indigenous Art at StFX. The first was created in honour of the permanent installation of the Mi'kmaq flag on the StFX campus in October 2017, and its success was such that a second exhibition was encouraged by the university. 

In his three years as president of the StFX German Society, he has been able to contribute positively to the student experience outside of the classroom. He has also been engaged with youth in his community. He has volunteered his time at the grassroots soccer level since he was a teenager, and in 2017, he was a facilitator at a youth leadership conference called Spark the Change, organized by the Healthy Relationships for Youth program in Nova Scotia. 

A midfielder on the soccer team, he has captained the X-Men for the past three seasons and was a key piece in leading StFX to consecutive second place finishes in the league standings. He is also a former AUS all-star and was the 2014 AUS rookie of the year.

Catholic studies students curate exhibit at Antigonish Heritage Museum

Tue, 2018-11-27 10:08
Students Lauren Henderson, Kenzie MacNeil, Ben von Muehldorfer, Catherine Culhane, Tyler Wilson and Sean Sullivan pose with Bishop Brian Dunn, Vicar of the Founder, and Barry MacKenzie, StFX Catholic studies and history professor

Students in CATH 298: Catholicism in Canada stepped outside the classroom this term for part of their major assignment, curating a new exhibit at the Antigonish Heritage Museum entitled “Venerable Objects: The Material Culture of Catholicism in Antigonish.”

“I wanted to provide the students with an opportunity to engage with different types of sources,” said course instructor, StFX Catholic studies and history professor Barry MacKenzie. 

“It is important that they learn to appreciate the incredible value of material culture. Whereas letters, diaries, newspapers and other print sources are wonderfully rich sources, they cannot tell us a story in quite the same way as physical artifacts.”

The exhibit, consisting of 30 artifacts from seven different local collections, is divided into nine different subject categories, all of which speak to some element of the story of Catholicism in Antigonish County. The category related to StFX University includes a ledger from the founding years of the university, a junior prom dance card from 1930, and an academic calendar from 1891-1892.

“It has been an exciting way to learn about history,” said Catherine Culhane, a fourth year honours history student who curated the artifacts relating to StFX. “This useful experience will be valuable to me in my future endeavours.”  

“It would be impossible for me to identify a favourite artifact from the exhibit,” Prof. MacKenzie said, “but there are a few which I think are particular highlights.” Among those are Moses Coady’s hat, a relic of St. Francis Xavier, and a beautiful lectern presented to John Cameron, Bishop of Antigonish and Chancellor of StFX from 1877 to 1910, by the Congregation of Notre Dame, which ran Mount St. Bernard Ladies Academy.  

“Professor MacKenzie has demonstrated that material culture is an exciting way to ignite students’ interests in Canadian history,” said Dr. Laurie Stanley-Blackwell of the Department of History.

“I was pleased to be able to assist with this class project,” said Jocelyn Gillis, director of the Antigonish Heritage Museum, who has enjoyed her collaborations with Catholic studies and history students. 

“Venerable Objects” will run at the Antigonish Heritage Museum until late January 2019.

 

StFX honours trailblazer in plate tectonics and prominent educator in humanity; confers degrees and diplomas during Fall Convocation 2018

Thu, 2018-11-22 14:15
2018 Fall Convocation honorary degree recipients Dr. John F. Dewey, FRS, and Dr. Thomas De Koninck, CM

StFX will honour Dr. John F. Dewey, an expert at the forefront of plate tectonics research known the world over as one of the first geologists to apply plate tectonic theory to specific mountain belts, and Dr. Thomas De Koninck, a scholar, humanist and author known for his work in human dignity and his writing in the philosophy of education, whose work bears significantly on issues essential to the betterment of society, with honorary degrees during Fall Convocation 2018 taking place on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 3 p.m. at the Charles V. Keating Centre.

Over 200 degrees and diplomas will be conferred during the afternoon ceremony, including to 41 graduates of StFX’s Coady Institute Diploma in Development Leadership program. Coady graduates come from 19 countries across the globe, including the first diploma graduate from Fiji. Coady Institute class speaker will be Musola Cathrine Kaseketi, founder and executive director of Vilole Images Productions. 

Also receiving honours during the ceremony are StFX senior human kinetics lab instructor Kelly Thompson, recipient of the 2018 Outstanding Staff Teaching Award, and StFX senior biology lab instructor Randy Lauff, recipient of the 2018 Outreach Award.    

BIOS:

2018 Honorary Degree recipient

Dr. John F. Dewey, FRS
 

Dr. John F. Dewey has been described as the leading geoscientist of his generation. He is widely known for being at the forefront of the revolution in the field of plate tectonics, and was one of the first geologists to apply plate tectonic theory to specific mountain belts. For his work, Prof. Dewey has received the most prestigious awards from numerous academic societies, including the Lyell and Wollaston Medals conferred by the Geological Society of London, the Arthur Holmes Medal from the European Union of Geosciences, and the Penrose Medal, the Geological Society of America’s most prestigious medal. He has received several honorary degrees, is a fellow of the Royal Society (F.R.S.), and a member of the Royal Society of London and the US National Academy of Sciences. Prof. Dewey received his first doctorate from Imperial College, London, followed by D.Sc. degrees from Oxon and Canterbury. During his academic career, he held faculty positions at Cambridge, SUNY-Albany, Durham and Oxford universities as well as prestigious visiting fellowships on both sides of the Atlantic. He has authored or co-authored countless influential articles in high profile journals such as Nature and Geology, several with more than 2,000 citations, attesting to his global impact on the science. A proud field geologist, he is very familiar with the Antigonish area. His first academic position in North America took him to Arisaig, NS to instruct geological field methods for M.I.T. He has worked on every continent, and has inspired generations of students all over the world, many of whom have gone on to become academic leaders in their own right.

2018 Honorary Degree recipient

Dr. Thomas De Koninck, CM

Dr. Thomas De Koninck is an internationally-known philosopher and one of Canada’s leading academics. He has an M.A. Lit. Hum. from Oxford and a PhD from Laval University, and is currently professor emeritus at Laval University in Quebec where, before his 2015 retirement, he taught for decades and served as Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy. A scholar, humanist and author, his work bears significantly on issues essential to the betterment of society. Dr. De Koninck is perhaps best known for his studies on human dignity and for his writings in the philosophy of education. He has authored works that have received international acclaim, including De la dignité humaine, for which he won the Le Prix La Bruyère of the Académie française, the first Canadian to have received this award, and La nouvelle ignorance et le problème de la culture. His reputation as a scholar is equally matched by his reputation as a teacher, and he is known to generations of students as a mentor and guide. He has supervised an extraordinary number of masters and doctoral theses. Over the past 40 years, he has supervised 19 ‘licence’ theses, 158 MA theses and 59 doctoral theses. Dr. De Koninck is a former Rhodes Scholar and a recipient of an Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung Fellowship. He has received numerous awards, including being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. An active member and past president of the Canadian Philosophical Association, he is also a member of the Order of Canada and an Officer of the Ordre des Palmes Académiques de France. 

Awards:

2018 Outreach Award

Randy Lauff


Randy Lauff is a senior laboratory instructor in the Biology Department, where he has spent nearly 30 years, making significant contributions and inspiring students. He’s also significantly grown StFX’s zoological collection so that over 60 per cent of Nova Scotia’s mammals and breeding birds are represented; amphibians, reptiles, fish and invertebrates are also included. Specimens, collected by him or by students under his direction, have included North American and Canadian first records, provincial and Maritime firsts, significant range extensions, and documentation of introduced species. Several papers have been written using specimens from this collection. He has supervised both StFX honours students and, as a community resource person, a number of high school students. He is involved with many biological activities outside StFX, including Citizen Science data collection and participation in national and international bird surveys. He is a book reviewer for The Canadian Field-Naturalist and a former editor of Nova Scotia Birds. Active in research, receiving grants of over $50,000 since 1996, he is best known for his owl work. He found the first nests of the Boreal Owl in Nova Scotia, the only ones documented from the Maritimes in about 80 years. He is a frequent invited speaker, author of 19 peer-reviewed publications and a research associate with the Nova Scotia Museum. His favourite student is his four-year-old son Jacob who loves catching bugs and checking owl nests with him.

2018 Outstanding Staff Teaching Award

Kelly Thompson 


A senior human kinetics lab instructor at StFX since 2001, Kelly Thompson has been a physical educator for 28 years and has provided teaching progressions, technical strategies and general teaching tips for children, kinesiology students and physical education teachers. His passion is to promote physical education and literacy, gymnastics and lifelong fitness. He teaches educational gymnastics skills, principles of fitness skill classes and exercise physiology labs to StFX students. He has created four activity courses and developed one lab at StFX. In 2003, he started the popular HKIN After School Gymnastics Program, which not only provides instruction for local children, but practical teaching experiences for StFX students, who all complete Gymnastics 127. He also created and maintains an educational gymnastics website for StFX students and physical education teachers. Mr. Thompson holds a Master of Education from StFX, is a NCCP Level 4 Coach, NCCP Level 1 and 2 Course Conductor, FIG International Brevet Gymnastics official, and a certified personal trainer. He has presented at local and national conferences and has provided consulting services for the Nova Scotia School Curriculum (gymnastic PE component). He has officiated at the 2004 Olympic Games, as well as numerous world championships, Pan American Games and World University Games. Honours include Life Member Nomination, Gymnastics Canada and the Nova Scotia Official of the Year. 

Coady Institute speaker 

Musola Cathrine Kaseketi


Founder and executive director of Vilole Images Productions (VIP), Musola Cathrine Kaseketi is the first Zambian female film director and an international award winner who has contributed tremendously to the film industry in Zambia. She was ushered into human rights advocacy at a very tender age. Through her journey, she has trained many Zambians in film and disability sectors including senior government officials to ensure disability is mainstreamed in all areas of development. VIP is an organization dedicated to using film as a tool for human rights advocacy by creating respect for human dignity and removing bias towards artists, women and girls with disability, and contributing towards changing lives in bringing hope to the helpless. VIP’s passion is about facilitating change to promote an inclusive, friendly society for all.

 

 

StFX hosts first Refugee Awareness Day

Wed, 2018-11-21 09:21
StFX and community members gather for an education and information session during StFX's first Refugee Awareness Day

The compassion and caring evident in the StFX and Antigonish communities shone brightly on Nov. 20 as students, staff, faculty and community members gathered together on campus for the first ever StFX Refugee Awareness Day. 

The day-long event, under a theme of “Together—Strong,” was hosted by StFX for SAFE (Syrian Antigonish Families Embrace) and StFX WUSC (World University Service Canada) with several talks and education and information sessions taking place in a white tent set up in Xavier Gardens, with the cool November winds sweeping through the tent a reminder of living conditions facing many refugees around the world. 

“Imagine living in one of these tents for not days or months, but sometimes years,” StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald said as a crowd gathered for opening remarks on a day that would see presentations from community groups including SAFE, St. Ninian Parish C.A.R.E. and Tri-HEART. 

Also highlighting the day’s agenda were remarks from WUSC Regional Liaison Officer – East, Sam Krueger; a talk from StFX political science professor Dr. Yvon Grenier on the politics of migration and displacement; another from StFX nursing faculty Dr. Elizabeth McGibbon on gender and refugee social justice; and a discussion with several panelists on helping refugees achieve academic goals. The day concluded with an evening presentation in the Schwartz School from members of the Al Hariri family on their journey to Antigonish. 

Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher said the day is a chance to raise awareness, celebrate refugees and newcomers to the community, who add so much to its fabric, as well as all the volunteers who make this happen, and the two StFX student committees who made the day possible.  

Dr. MacDonald also thanked the students and everyone involved for all they do to support refugees and newcomers to campus and to the community. 

“I’m particularly proud of staff, faculty and students for the collective ways they have come together to support those efforts,” he said.

“The notion of giving back and helping refugees on this campus has a history of over 60  years,” he said recalling when StFX came together to help Hungarian refugees. 

Since that time, faculty, staff and students have continued important work to help. 

WUSC was established on campus in 1984, and in the 34 years since, it has supported students from Kenya, Burma, Afghanistan and across the world to come to StFX to study. 

More recently, StFX for SAFE has helped bring Syrian refugees to the community, and last year, the Class of 2018 student legacy project helped raise $40,000 to support a student refugee bursary. 

“I think it is really important what we are doing on this campus,” he said. 

Equally important and remarkable, he said, is the effort volunteers commit to help the newcomers feel supported, loved, and integrated into the community.  

It’s actually a two-way street, he noted, with the newcomers giving much back and making our community that much more rich, diverse, and vibrant. 

Students’ Union president Rebecca Mesay echoed the words of thanks, noting her parents came to Canada as refugees, as she remarked on the significance of the day. She quoted British-Somali poet Warsan Shire: “No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.” 

Rankin School graduating first LPN to BScN Acceleration Option students

Fri, 2018-11-16 15:20
L-r, AO LPN advanced major students Jennifer Hynick, Keith Torrey, Shauna Burns and Vivian Ramsay pictured at their project presentation

The StFX Rankin School of Nursing is looking forward to graduating the first students in its LPN to BScN Accelerated Option (AO) program next month during Fall Convocation 2018. 

In all, 20 students will be among the first graduates of the AO program, students who are also Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs). These include four students who are also completing an advance major project, which they presented on Nov. 15, 2018. 

The students and their project titles are:

• Jennifer Hynick, “Providing Ethical and Evidence-Based Nursing Care to Women who use Opioids” with advisor Marion Alex.

• Keith Torrey, “Raising the Flag on Transgender Youth and Access to Healthcare in Atlantic Canada: An Upstream Approach” with advisor Wendy Panagopoulos.

• Shauna Burns, “Experiences of Chronic Pain in Children and Families” with advisor Jacqueline van Wijlen.

• Vivian Ramsay, “The Registered Nurse’s Role with Pharmacological Therapy in Heart Failure” with advisor Marie Arnott.

“The accelerated two-year option (AO) is the same program as the traditional four year program for nursing. The primary difference is the courses continue over two years starting in January with students graduating in December of their second year,” says Dr. Debbie Sheppard LeMoine, Rankin School Assistant Director and coordinator of the advanced major. 

She says for qualified LPNs, who graduated after 2008 from the Nova Scotia Community College and completed a bridging program in collaboration with Cape Breton University, StFX offered LPNs credit for prior education and practice experience thus allowing admission into the AO program. 

In the advanced major option, each AO LPN student completed an advanced major study and practice in a focused area of health guided by an advisor.

StFX student Emma Logan on a mission to give the gift of hearing

Thu, 2018-11-15 16:12
Emma Logan

Emma Logan is on a mission to make hearing accessible for all.

The fourth year StFX Schwartz School of Business finance student from Halifax, NS, has started an initiative that will give new purpose to old hearing aids. She launched Hearing for All and is collecting used hearing devices, which can be prohibitively expensive for some people, to refurbish and redistribute to those in need.  

Ms. Logan, who worked on the initiative this summer as a Wallace Family Intern in StFX’s Innovation and Enterprise Centre, is collecting excess devices in partnership with Calgary, AB-based audiology charity Gift of Hearing

In April 2019, they will travel together on a mission to Yamasá, a small, rural agricultural community in the Dominican Republic where Gift of Hearing has an audiology clinic. They hope to bring 1,000 hearing devices to Yamasá, which is home to many impoverished Dominicans as well as Haitians whose families crossed the border looking for a better life. 

Ms. Logan says in many low and middle income nations, hearing loss often goes undiagnosed and untreated. Children with hearing impairment often don’t get the opportunity to go to school, and many face isolation and ignorance, with testing and treatment often out of reach.   

In these countries, there is often a large stigma against people living with disabilities, including hearing loss, she says. 

MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Ms. Logan says it’s always been her dream to start a social enterprise, something that would have an impact. She always wanted to make a difference, but until last year, she wasn’t sure how. 

“Now I have this greater mission to increase access and affordability,” says Ms. Logan, who lost her own hearing while just 13 months old after contracting meningitis. She’s worn hearing aids almost ever since and had cochlear implant surgery at age three that helps her hear. 

She says all through her life, family, friends, and the audio and hearing health care community have been extremely supportive of her. She has had access to abundant resources, and never struggled or had to go looking for help. That’s not the case for all people.

Last year, while on a StFX student exchange with a university in Australia, she took time to visit the cochlear implant headquarters in Sydney and came away even more impressed by what they do. 

A professor in Australia, knowing of her desire to start a social enterprise, suggested she think about starting something that would help those who didn’t have the same resources she did growing up in Canada. 

“I thought it was a great problem to solve and something I could be passionate about, but I didn’t know how I’d address it.”

Around the same time, she was invited to attend a start-up event where potential entrepreneurs pitched their ideas. 

While waiting for her big “aha” moment, she says she realized that she had two perfectly good hearing aids sitting at home, unused since she had upgraded to new ones. 

“Why isn’t someone else wearing them, and why isn’t there a channel to donate them?” she remembers thinking. In fact, she thought many people would have unused hearing devices at home when they get new ones.

She started researching the issue and making connections when she returned to Canada.

She applied for and was awarded a Wallace Family Internship at StFX, which provides funding to support full-time employment for 12 weeks. Interns receive coaching and assistance from StFX Extension Innovation and Enterprise staff and faculty mentors, and work closely with experts in their fields of interest. Ms. Logan worked on her idea alongside faculty advisor Dr. Neil Maltby and other StFX staff and faculty.  

Hearing aid recycling happens a lot in the U.K., and the U.S., she says, but she noticed there were gaps to be filled in Canada. 

“There’s a large population even within Canada who can’t afford hearing aids. I want to focus on that going forward,” she says. 

She also wants to change the conversation between audiologists and those who are upgrading to new hearing devices so that it becomes the normal thing to do for people to consider donating their old ones. 

Ms. Logan has also partnered with the Funeral Services Association of Nova Scotia about setting up internal collections as they often speak with families about what to do with personal effects. 

She is also well connected with the deaf and hard of hearing community 

“It’s very, very rewarding and it’s been exciting. It’s been a lot of hard work,” she says. 

 Passionate about helping others, she is looking forward to seeing what impact she can make.

For more information on Hearing for All or how to donate, please see https://www.hearingforall.ca/

Top honours, national recognition for StFX Computer Science

Wed, 2018-11-14 13:33
Pictured are several of the StFX computer science faculty members, including, l-r, Dr. James Hughes, Dr. Man Lin, Dr. Iker Gondra, Dr. Jacob Levman and Dr. Laurence Yang

StFX’s Computer Science program is celebrating much good news—including a Maclean’s magazine ranking that shows the program is leading the country in research in the field weighted citation impact category.

StFX is tied with the University of Toronto for this honour.

Additionally, StFX’s Computer Science program is the top ranked in Atlantic Canada in Maclean’s for the third year in a row. 

And StFX computer science students are fresh off a successful showing in the Science Atlantic Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science conference where the computer science team of Darwin Groskleg, Brandon Anthony and Thomas Ciha placed so well they earned the right to advance to the North American North East regional competition held Nov. 10. StFX student Katie MacEachern also received second prize in the Computer Science Research Oral category at Science Atlantic, while Cynthia Forgeron received third prize in that same category. 

StFX computer science faculty are gratified with the recognition of the program’s many strengths.  

"Our field-weighted citation impact index rank, a measure of research output, is tied for number one in the country," says computer science professor Dr. James Hughes. “That’s great news for students who are at all interested in becoming involved in research,” says colleague Dr. Jacob Levman, Canada Research Chair in Bioinformatics. 

StFX computer science faculty conduct research in areas such as machine learning, data science, artificial intelligence, bioinformatics, cloud computing, internet of things, computer vision, and energy-aware management for embedded systems.

Working with faculty can be an integral part of the student experience at StFX. 

“Many students have the opportunity to be involved in computer science research,” says faculty member Dr. Iker Gondra, who notes the department’s annual Alley Heaps Summer Research Internship Award as one of the opportunities available to students.

Students also have opportunity to get involved with faculty projects. For instance, Dr. Laurence Yang organized the international 2018 IEEE Cybermatics Congress and StFX students had the chance to participate in that event. 

Drs. Levman and Hughes says involvement in research provides students with challenging, real world experience and goes above and beyond what students may see in the classroom.

Dr. Man Lin says another strength is the continuing effort computer science faculty members put into keeping up with new developments in the rapidly evolving field of computing, and introducing new courses on emerging topics.

StFX offers courses that meets the needs of a broad range of students, she says. It also offers a master’s program, an opportunity for undergraduate students to work with faculty in summer research projects, a co-op program option and a pre-education concentration for those interested in teaching. 

Dr. Gondra says faculty spend much time with the students so that they are well prepared when they finish their degrees.

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