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Lullaby: Inside the Halifax Explosion

Events - Wed, 2017-10-18 13:36

Lullaby: Inside The Halifax Explosion is a theatrical event, combining Atlantic Canadian content and story-telling, with historical expression and accuracy, and educational outreach. It’s a story of survival and growth, of destruction and hope. But, this story is not born of fiction: it happened. It’s historical fact. This is an important celebration of the diversity and cultural fabric of the country. 

Sodexo marks 30-year partnership with StFX with donation to the Jeannine Deveau Fund

Department News - Tue, 2017-10-17 13:35
L-r, StFX Director of Development Wendy Langley, StFX Vice-President Finance & Administration Andrew Beckett and Bill Keith, VP of Sodexo Education Accounts

Sodexo’s 30-year partnership with StFX came with some extra special good news.

During an Oct. 11 celebratory dinner at the McKenna Centre to mark the milestone, the campus food services company donated $30,000 to StFX’s Jeannine Deveau Educational Equity Endowment Scholarship Fund, aimed at making a university education more accessible to members of the African Nova Scotian and First Nations communities. In effect, the amount doubles to $60,000 due to the Deveau Fund’s matching clause.

Kevin Fraser, General Manager of Food Services, says Sodexo will celebrate certain milestones at accounts, and 30 years is one of them. He says they started to think about what they could do to give back to StFX and the students in general.

“It’s a partnership, and we wanted to give back to the university and to students,” he says. “We thought this would be a good way to do it.

“To give to the Deveau Fund puts money directly towards Aboriginal and African Nova Scotia students, and the money would then double.”

StFX Director of Development Wendy Langley welcomed the news and thanked Sodexo for the donation.

“It’s a great demonstration of Sodexo’s awareness of the university’s priorities. They chose to donate not only to the Xaverian Fund but the Jeannine Deveau Fund, helping us support the communities that need it the most, and doubling the financial impact of the gift,” she says.

“They felt as passionate about this fund as we do. This gift is significant and it will directly impact students.”

Mr. Fraser noted that at StFX, Sodexo has 13 employees that have worked with the company for over 30 years.

Sodexo invited current and former administrators, including former food liaison committee chair Lorris Kaiser, to the seven-course celebratory dinner led by Sodexo executive chef Mike Pollock and the culinary team at StFX. 

Students launch StFX’s first financial news publication

Department News - Tue, 2017-10-17 10:54
L-r, StFX students Jack Evans and James Bouchard, founders of X-Markets Monthly

StFX has its first financial news publication, thanks to two enterprising fourth year students who have founded X-Markets Monthly, a one-page, double-sided monthly focused on the Canadian economy.

The first issue came out on Oct. 2, and will be subsequently published on the first Monday of each month, say editor-in-chief Jack Evans, an honours economics student from Calgary, AB, and managing director James Bouchard, a finance student from Calgary, both graduates of Rundle College high school, who have taken on this initiative on their own accord.

Both students say the publication, dedicated to delivering the month’s most influential financial information as well as sector and economic analysis, has met with positive feedback.

They say too that it’s been a cool experience to see the publication get off the ground.

“It’s fun. It’s been really neat to try to start something new,” says Mr. Evans, who came up with the idea for a financial news publication after meetings with members of the investment banking community in Toronto. He recalls meeting someone whose LinkedIn profile listed their university’s financial paper.

He approached Mr. Bouchard to see if he would be interested in starting a publication at StFX. He was. 

“We thought the campus would benefit from that,” they say, noting as first and second year students they would have liked to have such a publication around.

They approached a StFX business faculty member with the idea, and again received positive feedback.

Gerald Schwartz School of Business faculty members and director Dr. Tim Hynes have been extremely supportive of their efforts, they say.

Mr. Evans and Mr. Bouchard write the publication’s top story, this month focused on Canada's proposed tax reform. Other articles are written by students from the StFX Economic Society, the Schwartz Business Society, and the Schwartz Investment Society. They also ask a StFX alumnus to write about a financial issue of interest.

Along with Mr. Evans and Mr. Bouchard, the X-Markets team members include fellow students, chief economist Samantha Blair, chief financial analysis Mitch Martell, chief of publication Matt Benoit and director of communications Ryan Finn.

“It’s kind of cool bringing together a lot of different groups who wouldn’t necessarily get together,” Mr. Bouchard says.

“The coolest thing for me is the awesome team of people we have,” Mr. Bouchard says.

Mr. Evans says he hopes the publication will continue many years after they’ve graduated from StFX, with new students getting involved who may want to change and expand. “It’s been really neat to start something that may be around for a long time,” he says. “It’s always nice to try to leave something a little better than you found it.”

The print copy of X-Markets Monthly is available in the Schwartz School and at the information desk in Bloomfield Centre. The publication is also available online, where interested people can follow the links to subscribe, and follow X-Markets Monthly on its facebook page

Nursing professor awarded national grant to study health equity in Canadian public policy

Department News - Mon, 2017-10-16 09:57
Rankin School of Nursing professor Dr. Elizabeth McGibbon and fourth year honours nursing student Chloe Brennan. Missing from photo is fourth year honours political science student Sandra Petrovic

Dr. Elizabeth McGibbon, a professor in the StFX Rankin School of Nursing, has been awarded $49,800 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) to study how health equity is framed in Canadian public policy documents.

This two-year research project is the first of its kind in Canada, and is expected to shed light on some of the reasons why Canada lags behind other countries in targeting public policy to decrease health inequities.

“The goal of the research is to bring forward the ways that we use the term health equity in Canada, and to inform innovations in related public policy,” says Dr. McGibbon, whose overall research focuses on oppression and health outcomes, and the political economy of health. Her research is informed by over 15 years of clinical practice at the pointy edges of injustice.

She says the term health equity is increasingly being used in public policy documents and in the academic literature, but health outcomes for some groups aren’t getting any better. In fact, they’re worsening. 

“Research is already very clear that health outcomes are persistently worse for specific groups of Canadians, often referred to as ‘equity seeking groups.’ These groups include those facing historic disadvantage, such as Indigenous peoples and African Canadians, women, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ2S people,” she says.  

Dr. McGibbon says what particularly excites her is this project has the potential to spark change to move health equity forward more quickly, more urgently.

“The research is very action oriented to inform change,” she says.

“It’s the first time this kind of microscope has been used to look at health equity in Canada.”

Dr. McGibbon worked closely with two StFX undergraduate honours students on the first phase of the project during the summer, Chloe Brennan, a fourth year nursing honours student from Halifax, NS, and fourth year political sciences honours student Sandra Petrovic of Toronto, ON.

“It’s been really interesting and a great experience, very eye-opening,” says Ms. Brennan, a graduate of Halifax West High School, who will also conduct her honours research under Dr. McGibbon’s supervision. “It’s brought a whole other aspect to nursing than what I’m learning in class.”

“It was an honour to work as a research assistant alongside Dr. McGibbon on this important project, which seeks to acknowledge the inequity in health outcomes for equity-seeking groups in Canada,” says Ms. Petrovic, a graduate of Martingrove Collegiate Institute. “Working on this project has expanded my interest in Canadian health policy and furthered my concern for amending public policy in order to reduce health inequity issues present in Canadian society.

“I look forward to seeing how Dr. McGibbon’s research progresses and am excited that the issue of health equity will better reach the attention of the Canadian public.”

Dr. Katherine Fierlbeck, a political science professor at Dalhousie University whose research work includes political science and health systems, is a co-investigator on the project.

Dr. McGibbon says she is pleased to involve StFX students in the research, to provide that rich opportunity for learning and mentorship at the undergraduate level that StFX is so well known for.

Using an institutional enthnography method, the research project involves a mixed method study with a systematic search of the academic literature and gray literature (for example government documents). A second phase will involve interviewing key people in Canada who are leaders in equity seeking groups, who work with equity seeking groups, and policy makers involved with equity informed policy.

“It’s important to me,” Dr. McGibbon says. “It’s a social justice issue that health inequity persists despite Canada’s capacity to address this pressing social concern.”

High School Students, Families Visit StFX for First-Ever Campus Open House

Department News - Sat, 2017-10-14 14:14
Propsective StFX students and their families depart the Schwartz School of Business to check out the many events and activities taking place at StFX's first-ever campus open house, Saturday, October 14th, 2017.

Over 400 high school students, parents, friends and family members visited the StFX campus today, Saturday, October 14, for the university’s first-ever campus open house.

Filled with fun and informative activities, the day was an opportunity for attendees to step into the shoes of a StFX student and see first-hand what their lives at university will look like if they choose to attend StFX.

The day kicked off with a welcome session in the Gerald Schwartz School of Business, including some words of encouragement from StFX leaders.

“This is your day to ask questions of everyone you meet,” said Dr. Kevin Wamsley, Academic Vice-President and Provost at StFX. “You need all the answers to make an informed decision.

“And we would love to see you here in September!”

Prospective students and their families enjoyed a complimentary meal at Morrison Hall and activities including campus tours, an academic fair with faculty representatives from all departments, Q&A sessions with StFX’s business, arts and science faculties, and showcases for both student and academic support services. Individual departments also hosted workshops and demonstrations throughout the day, giving prospective students an opportunity to see some of the exciting research and programs taking place at StFX.

There were also many shouts of excitement as students who applied to StFX before the open house received decisions confirming their acceptance for September 2018.

For prospective students – many of whom travelled out-of-province for the event – the day affirmed their excitement for StFX.

“It’s been really cool to see the campus,” said Sarah Simon, a grade 12 student from Saint John, New Brunswick.

“I really liked learning about all the different programs – and seeing the people cheering in pink shirts!” added Mollie Holt, also a grade 12 student from Saint John, referring to the StFX O-Crew who kept energy high throughout the day with cheers and celebrations.

Both Sarah and Mollie said they were particularly interested in the university’s new Bachelor of Arts and Science in Health, which takes an interdisciplinary approach to health studies, drawing on knowledge from scientific, social and humanistic fields.

They also said that, with the experience they had at the open house, Saturday’s visit to StFX likely won’t be their last.

“There’s a pretty great chance I’m going to come here,” said Mollie, as Sarah nodded in agreement.

Prospective students who missed the open house can still arrange a personalized campus tour through StFX’s Welcome Centre by emailing visit@stfx.ca or by phoning 902-867-4964.

Those who are ready to apply to StFX for an unforgettable university experience can do so by visiting www.StFX.ca/Apply.    

Making room: StFX nursing faculty win national poster award for research on implementing public breastfeeding spaces

Department News - Fri, 2017-10-13 15:43
L-r, Rankin School of Nursing faculty Sionnach Lukeman and Jacqueline van Wiljen

Two faculty members from the Rankin School of Nursing at StFX have won the best poster award at a national conference. The poster they presented looked at implementing public breastfeeding spaces and highlighted the development of a family-friendly breastfeeding space at the Antigonish Market Square mall.

Nursing faculty Sionnach Lukeman and Jacqueline van Wiljen received the award at the Canadian Association of Perinatal and Women’s Health Nurses (CAPWHN) conference held in Halifax, NS. The poster was submitted through a peer-reviewed process, and was judged by the conference committee. 

Prof. Lukeman says the family-friendly breastfeeding space at the Antigonish mall, to be officially launched in November, was designed and developed after community consultations that highlighted a key barrier to breastfeeding in the region was a lack of public spaces. 

Local non-profit organization, “Building a Breastfeeding Environment,” or BaBE, received funding and worked closely with key partners in the space’s design and development. Prof. Lukeman is BaBE’s president, and vice-president is StFX psychology professor Dr. Erin Austen. Prof. van Wiljen is a BaBE board member. 

“The award is recognition for how important it was for BaBE to involve the community in early conversations about barriers and supports to breastfeeding in our region. These conversations are why we started BaBE, why we worked for two years with the Antigonish Market Square to design and “build” the Nurture Nook, and why we continue to work on research projects and community interventions focused on building supportive environments for breastfeeding,” she says.

“StFX students in nursing and psychology have played important roles in the design of the space, as well as the social media campaign. We would like to acknowledge funding from the Antigonish Town and County Community Health Board. In addition, the Antigonish Market Square took a significant leadership role in making the Nurture Nook a reality.”

The Antigonish mall is paying for the renovations and furniture in the space, while the Antigonish Community Health Board contributed to the funding for some supplies and equipment, she says.

This space was designed in part by fourth year nursing students during their community nursing clinical placement. 

BaBE has consistently involved StFX students in its work, both in research and in community initiatives and interventions, she says. Public Health and Kids First in Antigonish are also key partners with BaBE. 


RBC to invest in StFX students

Department News - Thu, 2017-10-12 14:38
Patricia DePalma, Regional Vice President RBC covering Cape Breton and Northeastern NS, and Caroline Mulroney-Lapham discussed opportunities in women's leadership recently during the official sod turning of the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government at StFX

St. Francis Xavier University, and RBC Foundation, are pleased to announce the RBC Undergraduate Research Internship program. This initiative is part of RBC Future Launch, a multi-year commitment to ensure Canadian youth are more confident, better prepared and better equipped for the future of work.

“In this time of unprecedented economic and technological change, Canada’s future prosperity will depend on our young people and their ability to lead us forward,” said Patricia DePalma, RBC’s regional vice president for Cape Breton and Northeastern Nova Scotia. “We are thrilled to be partnering with a progressive institution like StFX on this internship program, which we are confident will have a tremendous impact on participating youth.”

“RBC’s $300,000 donation to create the internship program will allow StFX undergraduate students to build on the knowledge they acquired in their degree courses,” said Dr. Kent MacDonald, President of StFX. “It will allow our students to develop and apply new analytic skills that will benefit their ongoing training and career development post-graduation.”

The research is student-driven, and will provide students the opportunity to be involved in the creation of new knowledge and the creative use of existing knowledge through original research in areas of policy, government and leadership.

Starting January 2018, applications will be accepted for the RBC Undergraduate Research Internship program.

All research will be supervised by a StFX faculty mentor as well as resident visiting fellows or associates of the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government. Priority will be given to students focusing on areas such as youth employment; women’s studies and leadership; economics; trade and finance; Indigenous affairs and governance, entrepreneurship and more.

The internship program aligns well with RBC Future Launch by providing work integrated learning opportunities for 48 students over a six-year period in a part of the province where such opportunities are limited.


StFX earth sciences professor awarded Fulbright Canada Scholar award

Department News - Tue, 2017-10-10 14:05
Dr. Brendan Murphy

StFX earth sciences professor Dr. Brendan Murphy will be in residence at Yale University next semester conducting research on “Supercontinent Cycles and Global Geodynamics” as a 2017-18 recipient of the prestigious Fulbright Canada Scholar award.

The award provides opportunity for outstanding Canadian scholars to lecture and/or conduct research in the U.S.

Dr. Murphy, who has taught at StFX since 1982 and is also among the latest cohort of Fellows to be inducted into the Royal Society of Canada, national recognition as best in his field, will travel to Yale University to work with a research group, led by Prof. David Evans, on the origin of supercontinents.

“We have different theories on how supercontinents form. It will be an opportunity to learn from one another and maybe come up with a better theory,” he says.

He says the experience will have an impact on his students, teaching and research when he returns to StFX.

“We are working on fundamental plate tectonic processes. It will influence what I teach and the opportunities students will have.”

Dr. Murphy is best known for his contributions to understanding the supercontinent cycle, one of the most significant developments in earth sciences since the discovery of plate tectonics. He has led a wide range of study over his career in an effort to improve understanding of mountain building processes and the long-term history of global environmental change. He is recognized as one of Canada’s premier tectonists.

He has published over 290 research papers, is currently a science editor of Geology, was the former science editor of Geological Society of America Bulletin and Geoscience Canada and is on several other editorial boards. He is a fellow of the Geological Society of America (GSA) and has won national and international awards for research, service and outreach, including the Killam Research Fellowship, the Gesner and Ambrose medals, and the AGS & GSA Distinguished Service Awards. Recently he visited Australia as a Haydn Williams Fellow at Curtin University.

StFX German student society, Art Gallery, celebrate Indigenous culture in art exhibition

Department News - Wed, 2017-10-04 16:22

An Exhibition of Indigenous Art is coming to StFX thanks in part to the efforts of students in the StFX German Society.

German Society president and StFX student Liam Elbourne together with Bruce Campbell, director of the StFX Art Gallery visited Rolf Bouman’s Friends United Center in Cleveland. After viewing the Indigenous artwork on display they thought an art exhibition would be a perfect complement at StFX to follow the permanent raising of the Mi’kmaq flag on the StFX campus in September.

The exhibition will bring paintings by Loretta Gould, Amanda and Darren Julian, Chelsea Brooks, David Brooks, Jay Bell Red Bird and Lorne Julien from Mr. Bouman’s private collection. The grand opening of this special exhibition, hosted by the German Society and the StFX Art Gallery, is scheduled to take place on Oct. 12 at 5 p.m. in the MacNeil Gallery in the Gerald Schwartz School of Business.

“Following the raising of the Mi’kmaq flag on campus, this event is another opportunity for the StFX community to honour and celebrate Indigenous culture,” Mr. Elbourne says.

“As an Indigenous student, I am very excited to see the art come to StFX,” says student Maggie Mugford, who is taking the German 200 class and is a member of the German Society.

Fourth year math student and German Society member Alexis van den Hoogen says she is pleased to see this special exhibition come to StFX. “It is so important to acknowledge different works of art, and it is equally important to have these Indigenous artists display their beautiful pieces. I am looking forward to having this opportunity on campus, and appreciating art from so many talented artists.”

StFX, Coady students talk women in leadership opportunities and challenges with women leaders including Mila Mulroney and Caroline Mulroney Lapham

Department News - Wed, 2017-09-20 16:11
L-r, Nia MacFarlane, StFX VP and Coady director Dr. June Webber, Kashya Young, Caroline Mulroney Lapham, Mila Mulroney, Annie Sirois, Bashiratu Kamal, Meghan Flood, Sherna A. Benjamin, Joanna Alphonso, and StFX Chancellor Dr. Susan Crocker

A group of StFX students and Coady International Institute diploma participants had the unique opportunity to gain insight into the challenges and opportunities facing women in leadership positions when they sat down for conversation with women leaders Mila Mulroney, Caroline Mulroney Lapham, StFX Chancellor Dr. Susan Crocker and StFX VP and Coady International Institute Director Dr. June Webber.

Both Mila Mulroney and Caroline Mulroney Lapham were on campus for the sod turning of the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government and Xaverian Commons. They made time to meet with students while on campus.  

“I found it really valuable and inspiring to see women like that,” says Nia MacFarlane of Bedford, NS, a fourth year honours business administration student and co-chair of StFX Shinerama, which this year raised nearly $30,000 for Cystic Fibrosis research.

Ms. MacFarlane says it is important for younger females to be exposed to such role models.

“Part of why I feel that I’m capable is to see the trailblazers ahead of me, and to be in a room with women like that is inspiring.”

“It’s for sure an honour to be able to be part of these private meetings,” says Joanna Alphonso, herself a leader on the StFX campus. Ms. Alphonso of Ajax, ON is a fourth year psychology student and captain of the X-Women Rugby team, defending national champions. She is involved with the StFX Athletic Leadership Academy.  

“It’s an amazing opportunity to be part of this and to learn a bit more about leadership opportunities, to grow as a person and to grow as a leader,” she says.

“It’s very new and exciting for me,” says Kashya Young of Bridgewater, NS, a third year Bachelor of Arts student and Aboriginal Student Representative of the StFX Students’ Union. She says she was intrigued to have these leadership conversations and feels blessed to be among everyone in the group.

Ms. Mulroney told the students she feels optimistic about the challenges and goals available to women.

“I do think the opportunities are there for women,” she said. “Canada is really the land of opportunity as far as I can see.”

Sometimes it feels you take one step forward and one step back, but the opportunities are increasingly there, she noted.

She says she grew up in a home where there was no difference expressed between the genders, and that’s the way she and Mr. Mulroney raised their own children. Ms. Mulroney noted out of their four children of one girl and three boys, it is her daughter who has chosen to run for public office.

Ms. Mulroney Lapham, a mother of four herself, a lawyer and a businesswoman, has a lot on her plate, but Ms. Mulroney says she is confident she will do well.

“She’s organized, she’s smart, and she is well surrounded by the right people.”

Ms. Mulroney told the students it’s important to realize you’re not going to be able to do everything alone, nor do you have to. “I think that’s an important step as well.”

As she works to create her own path, Ms. Mulroney Lapham says it’s been helpful to have senior successful women speak about the challenges they faced.

“Honesty and openness from existing leaders is the key to helping the next generation,” she said as she noted she benefitted from women leaders who were very open about their challenges, and helped her create a new path.

Other students who took part in the conversation were Annie Sirois of Ottawa, ON, a fourth year honours political science student and president of the StFX Students’ Union; Meghan Flood of Rothesay, NB, a second year engineering student, representing female students from STEM, and Coady participants Bashiratu Kamal and Sherna A. Benjamin.


StFX breaks ground on transformational Mulroney Institute of Government and Xaverian Commons

Department News - Wed, 2017-09-20 14:34

On an historic day that had many looking to the promise of the future, the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney—Canada’s 18th Prime Minister—took a moment to look to the past as well. 

As hundreds gathered on the StFX campus on Sept. 20 to witness the official ground breaking of the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government and the Xaverian Commons, a $100 million project heralded as the most transformational in StFX’s history, Mr. Mulroney recalled a transformational moment in his own life. 

He told of approaching his father over six decades ago with a plan to take advantage of a new apprenticeship program at the paper mill where the senior Mulroney worked. 

“My father’s reply is engraved in my memory,” he said in a stirring speech shortly after turning the sod to mark the construction of the $50 million Mulroney Hall. 

“I know, Brian, that times are tough and we could sure use the extra money you would bring in. But I have learned one thing: the only way out of a paper mill town is through a university door – and you are going to university,” he recalled his father saying. “And that is how I wound up at StFX.”

Now, with his wife Dr. Mila Mulroney and daughter Caroline Mulroney Lapham at his side, Mr. Mulroney was back at his alma mater bringing transformational opportunities for others.

Not only will Mulroney Hall impact generations of students – including needy but worthy students in the form of $10 million raised in scholarships and bursaries—it will provide  a lasting legacy and strategic asset for StFX and the broader community for years to come, speaker after speaker noted.  


“This is not a StFX story or a provincial story. This is a national story,” StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald remarked as he said the changes they speak of will go far beyond a beautiful new 95,000 square foot building. It will transform the student experience at StFX as well as positively impacting the surrounding region. 

The joy of doing an announcement like this is the impact it will have on students who are not even here yet, the impact it will have on students that are not even born yet, he said. 

“This is what it means to leave a legacy. The Mulroney legacy is one we will always be indebted to here at StFX.”

Dr. MacDonald thanked Mr. Mulroney and his family, the Hon. Frank McKenna, and the StFX Development Office for their tireless efforts in securing private donor funding for the project, including $10 million that will go toward student scholarships and bursaries and $10 million to create new endowed chairs for faculty that will address such issues as Canada-U.S. relations, women in leadership, climate and the environment and human rights. Construction on the facility also comes with the future development of the greater Xaverian Commons project, he said.

Central Nova MP Sean Fraser spoke of how exciting it is to officially break ground on the Mulroney Institute of Government and spoke about the impacts the project will have both on the university and the region in terms of economic and social impacts. 

Not only will it create an excellent learning space, it will generate jobs and economic activity and leave the region with a strategic asset that will offer benefits for generations to come, he said. 

Nova Scotia Labour and Advanced Education Minister, the Hon. Labi Kousoulis added similar sentiments, noting how the project will spur economic activity, add to the life and vibrancy on campus and build on StFX’s outstanding reputation. 


“Today represents the culmination of a dream,” Mr. Mulroney said in remarks during the official ceremony. 

StFX students, he said, will now benefit from a unique opportunity at the only public policy institute at a Canadian university directed towards undergraduate students. 

This will provide students with remarkable preparation for graduate studies or for careers in the public service of all governments in Canada along with agencies ranging from the Bank of Canada to the United Nations, and will help to continue and strengthen the service StFX graduates will be able to render in so many new fields to people here and elsewhere around the world. 


“This event today is a result of the unparalleled generosity and support of benefactors in the private sector here and elsewhere across the globe. It simply would not have been possible without them,” Mr. Mulroney said on their vital support. 

He also underlined the tremendous help received for the greater Xaverian Commons project from the provincial and federal governments, which have contributed $5 million and $30 million respectively. 

He thanked former StFX President Dr. Sean Riley and former VP Tim Lang who proposed the idea, and current StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald, for all their work and support. 

Mr. Mulroney thanked his wife Mila and their children, Caroline in particular, for their unswerving support.

“It was a high honour for me to be of some service to this special place,” he noted.  

As they worked to flesh out the vision, Dr. MacDonald, he said, has been able to look around the corner of history with his idea for the Xaverian Commons – “a transformational development including Mulroney Hall, the Institute and related buildings, scholarships and bursaries, together with special endowments for African Nova Scotians and Aboriginal students, which will represent an investment of $100 million and change StFX forever.  

“That is the way history is made.”

Students’ Union president Annie Sirois and Paq'tnekek Mi'kmaq First Nations Elder Kerry Prosper also spoke at the ceremony. Dean or Arts Dr. Karen Brebner emceed the event. 
A number of special events also marked the day. Mr. Mulroney met with faculty and delivered a student lecture during his visit to campus.

Earlier in the day, Caroline Mulroney Lapham and Mila Mulroney joined with StFX Chancellor Dr. Susan Crocker and StFX VP and Coady International Director Dr. June Webber to speak with student leaders on the topic of Women in Leadership. 

As well, an afternoon information session for the campus community provided both an update on the institute’s academic programming and a presentation from Mulroney Hall architects on the design and layout of the new building. 

StFX to offer new Bachelor of Arts and Science in Climate and Environment

Department News - Tue, 2017-09-19 11:02
Committee members include, seated, l-r, Dr. Dave Risk, Dr. Lisa Kellman and Dr. Andrew MacDougall. Back row: Dr. Hugo Beltrami, Dr. Shah Razul, Dr. Patrick Withey and Maica Murphy. Missing are Dr. Corrine Cash, Dr. Petra Hauf and Dr. Karen Brebner.

From learning about the chemical makeup of our environment to the political consequences to global climate change, students interested in an interdisciplinary education in both climate and the environment have an innovative, immersive new opportunity at StFX.

Starting in fall 2018, StFX will offer a new, four-year Bachelor of Arts and Science in Climate and Environment, a degree that will focus on both the scientific and social dimension of the environment in the related, but distinct fields of climate and the environment.

The degree will look at the physical, biological and chemical composition of the world, society’s relationship with nature, and how Earth’s energy balance affects the environment.

“This will appeal to students who want both an arts and science approach and who have very focused, interdisciplinary goals,” says Dr. Andrew MacDougall, assistant professor attached to the Climate and Environment program.

“Climate and environmental problems arise from the interaction of human society and the natural world, and thus have complex scientific and social dimensions,” he says. 

“Every student will take classes in both climate and environment giving them a solid foundation in both streams,” he adds.

Students will take 24 credits of core climate and environment courses as well as two concentrations, a 40-credit primary concentration and a 24-credit secondary concentration in either climate or environment. Students will also take 12 credits in the humanities and 12 elective credits.

Graduates should have a widened field of opportunity in the growing and ever-changing environmental sector, says Maïca Murphy, Academic Project Coordinator in the Offices of the Deans of Arts and Science. 

The Bachelor of Arts and Science in Climate and the Environment will replace the Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences to provide students with an offering that is appealing and contemporary. 

Among the committee who structured the degree are climate and environment professor Dr. Andrew MacDougall, earth sciences professors Dr. Lisa Kellman, Dr. Hugo Beltrami, and Dr. Dave Risk, economics professor Dr. Patrick Withey, chemistry professor Dr. Shah Razul, Coady International Institute faculty Dr. Corrine Cash, Dean of Arts Dr. Karen Brebner and Dean of Science Dr. Petra Hauf. 

Hive for Feminist Research Lecture Series to focus on academic leadership of women addressing issues of accessibility

Department News - Mon, 2017-09-18 13:29
Presenters, l-r, Pamela Johnson and Wendy Kraglund-Gauthier of the Coady International Institute

Academic leadership by women will be the focus of the third annual Hive for Feminist Research Annual Lecture Series, taking place on Wed., September 27 at 7 p.m. in Dennis Hall.

Presenters, Pamela Johnson and Wendy Kraglund-Gauthier of the Coady International Institute, will address "Academic Leadership by Women: An Examination through Lenses of Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility,” during this annual lecture, an initiative of the Hive for Feminist Research, an interdisciplinary research group formed in 2013 to increase the visibility and understanding of feminist research at StFX in all its diversity.

A reception will follow the lecture and all are welcome.

Event organizers say through self-reflection and audience engagement, this year’s presenters will discuss their ongoing, collaborative work on the singular idea of leadership and academic success by addressing the issues facing women living with disabilities in post-secondary education, exploring their understanding of leadership through intersectional lenses of gender, culture, disability, and technology, and how accommodation for all can translate into benefit to all.

The Hive, founded by StFX faculty member Dr. Rachel Hurst to offer a space for StFX researchers to share and discuss their work, defines feminist research broadly as a type of inquiry concerned with understanding relations of power, particularly those based on gender as it intersects with race, sexuality, class, and ability.

The annual lecture series serves as a connection between all four faculties, the Coady, and the Angus L. Macdonald Library. The lecture series runs on a three-year cycle, with a speaker from the Arts/Science/Library in year one, a speaker from Business/Education in year two, and from the Coady International Institute in year three. 

Members of the Hive for Feminist Research Annual Lecture Series committee include Suzanne van den Hoogen (Library), Clare Fawcett (Arts), Catherine Irving (Coady), Opal Leung (Business), Rebecca Mesay (WMGS Student Society), Jennifer Mitton-Kükner (Education), Melanie Warner (WMGS Student Society), and Charlene Weaving (Science).

StFX faculty successful in 2017 NSERC Discovery Grants

Department News - Mon, 2017-09-18 09:54
L-r, Dr. Ryan Lukeman, Dr. Ricardo Scrosati, Dr. William (Bill) Marshall, Dr. Andrew MacDougall, Dr. Man Lin, and Dr. Peter Poole. Absent is Dr. David Pink

Seven StFX faculty members have received 2017 NSERC Discovery Grants, continuing StFX’s strong showing in this national awards competition.

Six faculty members were recipients of a 2017 NSERC Discovery Grant, including Dr. William (Bill) Marshall, Dr. Ricardo Scrosati, Dr. Andrew MacDougall, Dr. Man Lin, Dr. Ryan Lukeman, and Dr. Peter Poole. Dr. David Pink received an NSERC Discovery Development Grant.

“Faculty at StFX have a strong track record of success in obtaining research funding support from the NSERC Discovery Grants program,” says StFX Associate Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies, Dr. Richard Isnor.  “These grants play an invaluable role in student research training at StFX.

“We are delighted to see this success continue in the 2017 competition results. It is also encouraging to see the increased levels of funding support associated with the NSERC Discovery Grants program from the Government of Canada, underscoring the need for action on the recommendations of the recent federal review of fundamental science.” 

Research Grants Office Director John Blackwell says these funding successes reflect the high calibre of research being undertaken at StFX.

“Being awarded research funding in these highly competitive national programs is a huge coup, not only for the professor, but also for the students who are able to gain outstanding research experience working as research assistants with the professor,” he says.

2017 NSERC Discovery Grant recipients, with funding amounts over five years, and their research projects include:

* Dr. William (Bill) Marshall, Biology, $140,000, Control of Transport by Epithelia.
* Dr. Ricardo Scrosati, Biology, $120,000, Benthic-pelagic Coupling and Intertidal Community Organization on Canada’s Atlantic Coast.
* Dr. Andrew MacDougall, Earth Sciences, $160,000, Modelling the Effect of Natural and Human Altered Nitrogen and Phosphorous Cycles on the Global Carbon Cycle and Climate Warning. Dr. MacDougall was awarded a prestigious Early Career Researcher Supplement.
* Dr. Man Lin, Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, $100,000, Learning-based Energy Management for Cyber-Physical Systems.
* Dr. Ryan Lukeman, Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, $70,000, Connecting Empirical and Mathematical Approaches to Collective Behaviour.
* Dr. Peter Poole, Physics, $150,000, Complex Metastable Liquids:  Phase Behaviour, Dynamics, and Nucleation.

2017 NSERC Discovery Development Grant recipient:

* Dr. David Pink, Physics, a two-year $20,000 award, Physical Interactions in Oils. 

Farewell, Allan J. - Hundreds, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, celebrate life of a Canadian icon

Department News - Sun, 2017-09-17 19:11
Canadian Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau speaks at a Ceremony of Life at StFX for the late Hon. Allan J. MacEachen, regarded as one of Canada's most important and respected politicians

The life and legacy of one of Canada’s most important and respected politicians, the Hon. Allan J. MacEachen, was honoured as hundreds—including Canadian Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau—filled StFX’s Keating Centre Sept. 17 for a celebration of life for a man regarded as a Canadian icon.

Mr. MacEachen, 96, a native of Inverness, Cape Breton, died Sept. 12, 2017. The longtime Nova Scotia MP, cabinet minister and senator was also Canada's first deputy prime minister. He was one of StFX’s most notable alumni.

“I bring the thanks of a grateful country,” Prime Minister Trudeau said during a poignant ceremony that reflected on Mr. MacEachen’s many achievements that are part of the Canadian social fabric including the Medical Care Act, the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors and the Canada Labour Code.  

Mr. Trudeau told a crowd that included extended family, friends and many dignitaries including former Canadian prime minister the Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien as one of the honorary pallbearers, that Mr. MacEachen too seldom gets the credit he so deserves for his monumental accomplishments.

“Canadians are living in the country Allan J. built, and they like it,” he said as spoke on the achievements of the man he called a peerless parliamentarian.

As the son of former Canadian prime minister, the Rt. Hon. Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the prime minister said he also brings thanks from his grateful father to Mr. MacEachen, his intimate and loyal friend and a once-in-a-lifetime minister.

Mr. Trudeau says he now understands why they got along so well. The bedrock of their values, what they believed in their bones, was that all people are equal and “that freedom and equality of opportunity ought to be and could be every Canadian’s birthright.”

Allan J honorary pallbearers.jpg

When Mr. MacEachen entered politics, the Canada that people wanted existed only in people’s dreams, he said.

“By the time he left in 1996, it was a fact of life.”

Nobody did more and certainly nobody did it better, to make that happen, he said.

“Allan J. made it happen.”

He spoke of Mr. MacEachen’s parliamentary genius, his high esteem on the global stage, and the key part he played in helping his father achieve his life’s work, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom.

“He made Canada look a lot more like what the country Canadians wanted it be,” he said as he challenged Canadians to honour him by recommitting to these same ideals.

“May you rest in the peace that you so honourably earned.”

Allan J RCMP.jpg


“Mr. MacEachen privileged so many of us,” long-serving executive assistant Kenzie MacKinnon said in his remarks, one of four individuals along with Mr. Trudeau to speak during the ceremony, bringing insight into Mr. MacEachen’s life, times and character.

“I was privileged because people like me had a great champion who was one of us,” he said as he noted how he grew up in rural Cape Breton in the last half of the 20th century, where many things could have been seen as a disadvantage. “When we watched on the television news, he made us proud,” he said.

Mr. MacEachen represented the hopes and needs of all Canadians, and he truly believed to his core that good government could make people better, he said.

“How terribly privileged we were to have this great man in our lives.”

Former Ontario premier, former MP, and close friend, the Hon. Bob Rae, echoed the sentiment.

“We’re here to honour Allan’s memory. We should also be grateful for his life and presence among us.”

Mr. Rae told how Mr. MacEachen fell under the influence of Rev. Moses Coady and the Antigonish Movement while a student at StFX and how these values honed on the StFX campus, the belief in a full and abundant life for all, stayed with him for the rest of his life.


More than just beliefs, he was able to put these values into practice, he said.

And though he had his share of disappointments over the years, he found many ways to serve.

Nor did he forget where he came from. “He was a Cape Bretoner through and through.”

Mr. Rae said Mr. MacEachen was a tremendous worker for his constituents. He delivered the goods for his people in the best possible sense, and he helped to change people’s lives.

“Canada is a different and better place because of what he did,” Mr. Rae said.

“The deep changes he brought about should make us proud.”

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen MacNeil described Mr. MacEachen as a remarkable person who had his fingerprints on many of the progressive social policies of our time. But his true essence, he said, was that he never forgot where he came from.

The source of Mr. MacEachen’s strength lay at home in his constituency, where the injustices he saw, such as watching miners in Inverness work a lifetime only to retire without a pension, began to shape the man. He carried these beliefs always to ensure that no one was forgotten and to make life more fair and easier for those who needed it the most, Mr. MacNeil said.

Mr. MacEachen also left a legacy in influencing and mentoring a generation of young Nova Scotians and Canadians, he noted.  

“On behalf of Nova Scotians, we thank you sir.”

StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald, who served as the master of ceremonies, welcomed all and spoke of the notion of home as more than a place or a structure, and how StFX was Mr. MacEachen’s home in the deepest sense of the word. Not only did he live mere metres from the campus on West St., StFX was Mr. MacEachen’s home for over eight decades, first as a gifted student, then a faithful and dedicated professor, and then for his long support, including serving on the StFX Board of Governors.

“It’s no accident we gather here on the campus, at the university he loved and the university that loved him back,” he said.

Touching tributes throughout the ceremony included special guest, bagpiper Dr. Angus MacDonald of the Isle of Skye, who piped in Mr. MacEachen’s remains to a lilting lament. He was followed by an RCMP honour guard and honorary pallbearers.

The ceremony of life included a smudging ceremony and Mi’kmaq prayer from Elder Kerry Prosper, a Gaelic prayer delivered by Fr. Allan J. MacNeil, and the incomparable talents of world-renowned Cape Breton musicians Stewart and Lucy MacNeil and fiddler Ashley MacIsaac.


Mr. MacEachen, or “Allan J.,” as he was known, was a graduate of the StFX Class of 1944, a former StFX faculty member, and former member of the StFX Board of Governors.

His contributions to politics in Canada were many.

He began his career in 1953 and was re-elected eight times. He served as MP for Inverness-Richmond 1953-58, 1962-68, and then for Cape Breton-Highlands Canso from 1968-84. He was one of Canada’s most powerful cabinet ministers of the postwar era and held a variety of posts including holding the most senior portfolios of economic, social and foreign policy. Following his retirement from the House of Commons in 1984, he was appointed to the Senate of Canada where he remained until his retirement at the age of 75. The recipient of a number of honorary degrees, he was appointed to be an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2008.

In 1996, upon his retirement from the Senate of Canada, StFX hosted The MacEachen Conference, honouring his outstanding contributions to Canadian politics. Attendees included participants from all political backgrounds – the Rt. Hon. Pierre Elliott Trudeau, fellow StFX alumnus Senator Lowell Murray, and more than a dozen cabinet ministers and colleagues.

In 1997, as a lasting tribute, friends and supporters established StFX’s Allan J. MacEachen Annual Lecture In Politics Series, which has gone on to attract many great leaders to the StFX campus, including no less than four Canadian prime ministers. Mr. MacEachen attended every lecture.


Exploration and innovation: 11 StFX graduate students receive Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarships

Department News - Mon, 2017-09-11 11:41
L-r, Alex Young, Bry Crabbe, Greg Hadley, Andrew Flower, Nadia Tarakki, Lori Paslawski, Meredith Karcz and Zihao Jiang. Missing are Abu Baker, James Williams and Hina Shehzadi.

Eleven StFX graduate students—10 master’s students and one PhD student—are 2017 recipients of the Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship, awarded to research graduates at Nova Scotia universities to help advance the economic and social well-being of Nova Scotians by investing in graduate thesis-based research in several priority sectors.

The awards encourage exploration, discovery and innovation.  

At StFX, the students are involved in research projects that range from exploring educational avenues to slow out-migration in the province to the impacts of rockweed harvest.

Recipients include master’s students Andrew Flower, Hina Shehzadi, James Williams, Nadia Tarakki, Zihao Jiang, Bry Crabbe, Abu Baker, Meredith Karcz, Lori Paslawski, Alex Young and PhD student Greg Hadley.

All say the scholarship is invaluable.  

“Being awarded funding through the Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship in the area of social innovation has allowed me to create a robust research plan of a truly provincial scope,” says Greg Hadley of Antigonish, NS, who is completing his PhD (educational studies) under the supervision of education professor Dr. David Young.

His research examines the potential for entrepreneurship education in Nova Scotia public schools to serve as a mechanism to slow out-migration and enhance economic development.


“I am particularly interested in rural areas, as population decline and economic stagnation has threatened the stability of many, once vibrant, communities. As a former public school teacher in rural Nova Scotia, I have seen what population decline has done and am keen to explore what educational avenues might help to slow this troubling phenomenon,” he says. “The funding will allow me to engage with stakeholders, academics and policymakers and, I predict, will open many other doors that may have remained closed by economic forces. This funding offers me a great deal of research flexibility and has been truly transformative for my work.” 

Meredith Karcz of Burlington ON, who is completing a MSc in biology under the supervision of Dr. David Garbary, says the scholarship both helps her afford to study and conduct a project she cares about.

She is looking at the impacts of rockweed (Ascophyllum nodosum) harvesting in Nova Scotia on the other algal species and invertebrates that inhabit the rockweed canopies on rocky shores across the province.

“Rockweed harvesting is a growing multi-million dollar industry,” she says. “The seaweed is used primarily in agricultural applications and fertilizers. Research has primarily taken a species focused approach up until this point, but to properly ensure that current harvest methods are sustainable, the impact on the entire community needs to be assessed.”


Hina Shehzadi of Lyari Karachi, Pakistan is completing a M.Ed. under the supervision of education professor Dr. Joanne Tompkins. She is working on qualitative research, a comparative analysis of two curricula relating to the understanding of university students regarding sexual and reproductive health rights of women in Nova Scotia and Karachi.

Hina for article.jpg
Hina Shehzadi

“This scholarship is a life-changing opportunity for me because coming from an under-developing country, Pakistan, where as a young woman it was a major challenge for me to continue my higher education, this scholarship is not only supporting me to achieve my dream for becoming a university professor, but my community as well as I am the only woman travelling abroad for study and setting examples for other girls in my community to work hard and explore the opportunities in the world. I am so grateful to receive this Nova Scotia graduate grant.”

MSc biology student Alex Young of Berwick, NS, working with biology professor Dr. Russell Wyeth, is examining the nervous system of a snail species (Lymnaea stagnalis), identifying genes and cell types responsible for producing different neurotransmitters inside of its sensory organs (lips, tentacles) to get an idea of how the snail processes sensory information.

“Once we understand the genes and cells present in its nervous system, those genes can be interfered with to block their action and give us an idea of their function. The goal of my research is to get a better understanding of how the snails' genetics and nervous system are responsible for controlling its behaviour at the molecular level,” he says. “Ultimately, my research can lead to large scale sensory manipulation of snails with chemicals to prevent them from entering gardens or precious crop fields in countries where they are currently a major pest and a vector for several diseases.

“Receiving a Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship supplement means that I will be able to complete my master’s solely on external funding. One great thing about that is it saves internal funds to dedicate towards my research, hopefully increasing the quality of my projects.”


“The Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship is an honour for me and it is also a confirmation of my hard work,” says Zihao Jiang, of Changzhou, Jiangsu Province, China, a first-year master’s student working with computer science professor Dr. Laurence T. Yang on research focused mainly on big data and matrix computation.

“Receiving the Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship is a great honour for me,” agrees master’s of science student Nadia Tarakki of Bangladesh, who is working with earth sciences professor Dr. Dave Risk.

“This scholarship inspired me to create an effective tracer suite using isotopes to detect seepage and various emission sources. The results can be applied to mitigate health impacts in Nova Scotia, through use in issues such as emissions into residential basements and groundwater supplies,” she says.

She is working on soil gas monitoring at the Carbon Capture and Storage project at Aquistore, Estevan, Saskatchewan. This involves monitoring of soil gas concentrations of CO2, O2, N2 and CH4 and isotopic value analysis of stable isotope, d13C of CO2 and radiocarbon isotope, D14C of CO2 in addition to soil CO2 surface flux from pre-existing wells. The objective of the research is to monitor the containment of her research site and develop an isotopic tracer suite that can differentiate between biogenic and thermogenic surface gas sources.

“As a second-year recipient of the NSGS, this funding provides the financial support that allows us researchers to be more able to focus on our academics and research without having financial burdens in the background,” says Bry Crabbe of Woodstock, NB, completing a master’s of science in chemistry under the supervision of Dr. Geniece Hallett-Tapley and Dr. BJ MacLean.

He says through the use of niobium based perovskite semiconductor materials, they are studying the light induced reactions involving carbon-carbon coupling using this more energy efficient and more ‘green’ reaction process in the absence of heat and harsh organic materials.

“Receiving the Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship will allow me to use scientific instruments that study the chemistry of hundreds of rock samples and create thin sections to study the samples at a microscopic level. Each of these methods, supported by the NSGS, are essential to the development of a new structural geologic model and ultimately, the completion of my master’s research,” says Andrew Flower of Calgary, AB, taking a master’s in earth science (geology) under the supervision of Dr. Mike Melchin.

“My study of graptolites and carbon isotopes will help create a model of mineral deposition that could potentially be used to help ore exploration in shale hosted mineral resources in Nova Scotia.”

The research is based on geological findings in the Selwyn Mountain range, located in the Howards Pass district, Northwest Territories. 

Mi’kmaq flag permanently installed on StFX campus

Department News - Thu, 2017-09-07 15:18
Pictured are Tamara Cremo, Paqtnkek Chief PJ Prosper, StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald, Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy, and Pictou Landing Chief Andrea Paul

With the sound of drum beats and the scent of sage still in the air, a standing-room only crowd watched as the Mi'kmaq flag was proudly unfurled on Sept. 7 to fly permanently on the StFX campus.

A packed crowd filled Dennis Hall for the historic ceremony, moved inside due to inclement weather. The flag will fly permanently outside the President’s office at Morrison Hall.

“It is an honour to be here for the raising of the flag,” Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy said in remarks as he thanked everyone for coming to share in this moment of togetherness, an important ceremony that brought together members of the Mi’kmaq nation and the StFX community.

The ceremony was also highlighted by several announcements of major initiatives designed to enhance student learning.

“I’m really honoured to be here, it is a long time coming. This is a start of reconciliation,” Grand Captain Andrew Denny said as he thanked StFX for raising the Grand Council flag on a permanent basis. It solidifies and cements the fact that Mi’kmaq are welcome here, he said.

Chief PJ Prosper of Paqtnkek First Nation, who is also a member of the StFX Board of Governors, said the ceremony symbolizes the commitment between the two, and the interest in sharing the rich stories and cultural traditions of the Mi’kmaq people who have been here for generations upon generations.

Chief Prosper also acknowledged the leadership of StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald, who he said reached out to the Mi’kmaq nation soon after his installation in office.  

“It’s certainly a distinct honour for me to be part of this historic event,” Chief Prosper said.  

“This is an important day for us,” Dr. MacDonald said as he talked about the journey StFX is on, and that "we still have a lot to learn."

Dr. MacDonald thanked all those who have carried the flag in this regard, particularly members of the StFX education faculty, and thanked everyone “for having patience with us.

“I look forward to the future, not just a symbol, an important symbol, but how do we start to imbed this in the learning. The good news is we already have people doing this,” he said.  

StFX Aboriginal Student Advisor Terena Francis made several announcements during the ceremony including the news of a partnership with StFX, through the Jeannine Deveau Educational Equity Endowment Fund, to help establish an Elders-in-Residence program.

She also noted the appointment of Dorene Bernard as 2017 Coady Chair in Social Justice. Ms. Bernard performed a traditional smudging ceremony to start the ceremony.

Her third announcement again brought applause as she shared the news of the establishment of the five-year, $300,000 John Jerome Paul Chair for Equity in Mathematics Education. This research chair is created through the Deveau Fund and will be held by StFX education professor Dr. Lisa Lunney Borden.

Dr. Lunney Borden’s work will focus on teaching and math achievement for First Nations and African Nova Scotia students.

Mr. Paul, director of program services with Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey, who the chair is named after, said he has always been determined to see that Mi’kmaq youth gain skills in math and science to give them opportunity in the world. He said it is special to have Dr. Lunney Borden, who taught in Mi’kmaq communities for 15 years, be part of this project. He also noted he is humbled to be asked to have his name associated with this math equity chair as he knows the StFX education faculty will work diligently to support it.

Mr. Paul spoke of a partnership developed with StFX about 20 years ago to support the development of Mi’kmaq teachers for their communities. “We had great hopes when we started, but we had no idea, 20 years in, we would be standing here looking at such a great set of accomplishments,” he said to much applause.  

The flag raising ceremony ended with drumming and the singing of the Mi’kmaq Honour Song. 

Best in their field – StFX faculty members Dr. Brendan Murphy and Dr. William Sweet elected as Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada

Department News - Thu, 2017-09-07 09:02
L-r, Dr. William Sweet and Dr. Brendan Murphy

Two StFX faculty members have been elected by their peers as new Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada (FRSC), national recognition as the best in their field.

Philosophy professor Dr. William Sweet and earth sciences professor Dr. Brendan Murphy are among 89 new Fellows to be inducted into the Royal Society of Canada this fall for outstanding scholarly, scientific and artistic achievements.

“This is a very formal acknowledgement of the exceptional work and contributions that Dr. Murphy and Dr. Sweet have made to their respective disciplines over many years. This award is well deserved and I applaud Dr. Sweet and Dr. Murphy on this recognition and on their distinguished careers,” says StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald.

“This is a significant accomplishment and it speaks to the quality and value of our faculty at StFX. It is exceptional that StFX has had two nominees elected in the same year for this distinguished award,” says Dr. MacDonald.

The two StFX faculty members are among four new Fellows elected from Atlantic institutions.  

“I can't think of two more deserving candidates,” says StFX Academic Vice-President & Provost Dr. Kevin Wamsley. "This tremendous honour signifies the outstanding scholarly achievements of these very gifted professors. They are leading experts in their respective fields, and their bodies of work are internationally renowned. This is a truly wonderful accomplishment.”

Dr. Murphy, who has taught at StFX since 1982, is best known for his contributions to understanding the supercontinent cycle, one of the most significant developments in earth sciences since the discovery of plate tectonics. He has led a wide range of study over his career in an effort to improve understanding of mountain building processes and the long-term history of global environmental change.

Dr. Sweet, who joined the StFX faculty in 1990, is an internationally recognized scholar of the idealist movement in 19th- and early 20th-century Britain. His careful, historically-grounded and innovative scholarship on this movement has led to a re-evaluation of the work of some of its key figures and of its bearing on contemporary political philosophy as a whole. His research has also led to new insights into the impact of idealism in East Asia, India, and southern Africa, and the promotion of intercultural philosophy. The recipient of numerous awards and honours, Dr. Sweet has been invited to present his work across the globe.

The formal awards ceremony will take place in Winnipeg, MB in November.

“It’s a little humbling,” Dr. Sweet says of the award, and also gratifying that colleagues recognize the value of your work. It’s a sentiment echoed by Dr. Murphy, who is quick to talk too of equally deserving colleagues.

Both thanked those involved in nominating them, particularly Dr. Richard Isnor and John Blackwell, their respective departments for the support over the years, and credited family support as invaluable.

Dr. Sweet and Dr. Murphy say they have been fortunate throughout their careers to work with excellent people.

“Some people you have a mental chemistry with,” Dr. Murphy says. “That’s the beauty of sabbaticals, to make connections. I’m still working with people from each of my sabbaticals over the years. You meet people you can work with, that help keep the mental juices flowing.”

While technology allows faculty to stay connected in a way they never dreamed possible 30 years ago, they say, nothing beats face-to-face interactions with people.

“To make and maintain these international collaborations, you need to see the people, and you need time with them,” Dr. Sweet says. “This provides opportunity and international exposure.”

Passion and dedication and putting in the time and work are also key, they say.

Dr. Brendan Murphy

Dr. Brendan Murphy has led a stellar academic career in StFX’s Department of Earth Sciences where he has excelled as a researcher and professor for over 34 years. He teaches courses primarily in structural geology, tectonics and the evolution of the Earth. He has served as Chair of the department for nine years and has supervised more than 80 student thesis projects since joining StFX in 1982. He has held adjunct professor status at six other universities around the world. Dr. Murphy’s main research interests are the geological processes that form mountains and how they relate to the changing positions of continents through geological time, otherwise known as plate tectonics. He is best known among his peers for contributions to understanding the supercontinent cycle, recognized as one of the most significant scientific developments in earth sciences since the discovery of plate tectonics. He is recognized as one Canada’s premier tectonists, as well as a leading expert on the Appalachian orogen of eastern North America and its European counterpart, the Variscan orogen. His research has involved field studies and scientific collaborations around the world. An outstanding teacher and mentor, Dr. Murphy has supervised over 50 undergraduate student theses, 19 masters theses, and nine PhD dissertations through adjunct professorships and collaborations at other universities. He has also supervised three post-doctoral fellows and been a research collaborator and mentor to numerous young colleagues at StFX and around the world. He was the first faculty member to introduce an earth sciences course aimed at non-majors at StFX. He has served as an expert reviewer for the University Partnerships in Cooperation and Development Program (funded by the Canadian International Development Agency) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC) Solid Earth Sciences Committee. He is a current editor of Geology, the world’s premier journal in the Geosciences, and is past editor of Geoscience Canada and of the Geological Society of America Bulletin. His research has been continually supported by NSERC since 1984. Dr. Murphy has published over 290 scientific articles in academic journals, book chapters, monographs, or geological field guidebooks, and has authored or coauthored more than 200 conference presentations. He has received numerous awards for outstanding research, including the prestigious Killam Research Fellowship in Canada. In fact, in 2010 he was the sole recipient of a Killam Fellowship who works at a small, primarily undergraduate university in Canada. In 2014, he was awarded the StFX University Research Award. He was recently awarded a Hadyn Williams Fellowship at Curtin University in Australia. He was recognized with the Dave Elliott Award: Best Paper in the Canadian Tectonics Group for the Geological Association of Canada in 2015. He was elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of America in 2012 and received the Geological Society of America Distinguished Service Award in 2011. In 2014, Dr. Murphy was named winner of the J. Willis Ambrose Medal from the Geological Association of Canada. Dr. Murphy has served as president of the Atlantic Geoscience Society and chair of the Science Atlantic Geoscience Committee. He has been selected as scientific leader for several UNESCO International Geoscience Program projects and is a frequent science columnist and media commentator. His outreach activities have led to two awards for his contributions to public education, including the StFX Outreach Award.

Dr. William Sweet

Dr. William Sweet is one of the foremost Canadian academics on the history of 19th- and early 20th-century British philosophy, and one of the world’s leading scholars of British idealism. He has also contributed significantly to the philosophy of culture, intercultural philosophy, discussions of dignity and human rights, and the philosophy of religion. For over 25 years, he has produced influential articles and books on key figures of the idealist movement in Britain, and been a leading exponent in the reassessment of their work, particularly so far as it bears on issues of liberty, equality, and human rights in the contemporary world. Dr. Sweet’s work has challenged many of the received views of the idealist movement, but has also put into question the widely-held views that the idealists were close disciples of the German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel, and that they were an aberrant phase in 19th century British intellectual life. He is the foremost expert in the world on the British idealist, Bernard Bosanquet, and the leading commentator on his philosophy as a whole. Dr. Sweet has also contributed to the scholarship on political thought by organizing international conferences and collections of scholarly essays. These have stimulated many, particularly junior scholars, to write on idealism, expanding and deepening the study of this field. Dr. Sweet has also extended the scholarly understanding of British idealism by looking at its reception in the then British Empire, and beyond. In the Biographical Dictionary of British Idealism, for which he was general editor and authored some 50 entries, Dr. Sweet details the influence of idealism in philosophy in South Africa, India, East Asia, France, and the United States, as well as Canada. This work is continued in Dr. Sweet’s recent articles on idealism’s influence on major philosophers from Southern Africa and India. Dr. Sweet’s ground-breaking work on the reception of British idealism in Asia has led him to explore related themes. This has led to invitations to address scholars in South Africa, India, and China, and to the translation of some of Dr. Sweet’s work into Chinese. It has also led to frequent invitations to speak at major universities in China, India, and South Africa. Moreover, his ongoing work with the Fédération Internationale des Sociétés de Philosophie and with associated scholars has helped to bring the work of philosophers in developing countries to international notice. In parallel with his research into British idealism, he has made major contributions to historical studies in ethics and political philosophy. Particularly significant are his many publications and translations of the work of the 20th-century French philosopher, Jacques Maritain. Dr. Sweet’s work has been recognized by his election to the presidency of a number of learned societies, such as the Canadian Philosophical Association, and to the executive committees of international organizations, such as the Fédération Internationale des Sociétés de Philosophie, the Council for Research in Values and Philosophy, and the Istituto Internazionale Jacques Maritain (of which he is Presidente d'onore). He was recently selected as ‘Visiting Professor (Overseas)’ by the Indian Council of Philosophical Research. He is also a recipient of both the StFX President’s Research Award and the University Outreach Award. Dr. Sweet’s scholarship and the international reception of his work have led to his recognition as one of the leading scholars in the history of philosophy in Canada today.

Rebecca Mesay: student leader @ X

Department News - Wed, 2017-09-06 12:48

I’m Rebecca Mesay. This is my StFX story.

Emily Gale: student leader @ X

Department News - Wed, 2017-09-06 12:19

I’m Emily Gale. This is my StFX story.


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