Saint Mary’s University appoints new Associate Dean – Student Affairs, Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research

 Dr. Colleen Barber

Dr. Colleen Barber

Saint Mary’s University is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Colleen Barber, Professor in the Department of Biology, to the position of Associate Dean – Student Affairs, Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research (FGSR) effective September 1, 2018. Dr. Barber will take over from Dr. Diane Crocker, Department of Criminology, who successfully completes her 5-year term on August 31.

Dr. Barber joined Saint Mary’s University as an Assistant Professor of Biology in 1999 and brings close to 20 years of academic experience and leadership to her new role. In addition to her passion for science, research, and teaching, Dr. Barber has a strong history of student mentorship, having advised and supervised more than 75 students at Saint Mary’s.

Dr. Barber also has excellent administrative experience, most notably from her six-year tenure as Coordinator for the Forensic Sciences program, where her responsibilities included hiring instructors, admitting and mentoring students, developing curriculum and serving on the Science Curriculum and Executive committees.

Continuing on the foundation prepared by Dr. Crocker as FGSR’s inaugural Associate Dean, Dr. Barber will be the FGSR lead on all student-related issues. She will continue to work closely with FGSR’s Graduate Studies Officer and all of the Graduate Program Coordinators to support a positive learning environment for graduate students, and provide avenues for mentorship, professional development, and problem resolution.


Saint Mary’s University appoints new Director of Philanthropy

  Jillian Gibson

Jillian Gibson

Saint Mary’s University is pleased to announce the appointment of Jillian Gibson as the Director of Philanthropy in the Office of Advancement, effective August 27, 2018. Reporting to the Vice-President, Advancement, Jillian will provide leadership for the University’s philanthropy programs and staff in the area of major gifts, planned giving, annual giving, and donor relations. 

A member of the Advancement Leaders Team and the Senior Management Group, Jillian will play a vital role in building the university’s capacity to attract private sector support through strategic engagement of a broad range of stakeholders in integrated fundraising programs and long-term relationship building.

Jillian has extensive experience in the development, fundraising, and leadership fields, with a career spanning twenty-five years in education and educational advancement.  A member of Memorial University’s (MUN) Advancement team since 2009, Jillian has held increasingly progressive positions in annual giving, faculty development and major gifts, including leading a $5 million campaign for the Faculty of Medicine and management of the major gift team for the university during the “Dare To Campaign for Memorial University” which raised $67 million.  Prior to joining MUN, Jillian served as Director of Development at the Queen’s College Foundation in Nassau, Bahamas for four years, after an 11-year career as a teacher in Canada and Bahamas.

An alumna of the University of Ottawa with Bachelors of Arts and Education degrees, Jillian also has a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership from Memorial University. An active member of the Rotary Club in Bahamas and Newfoundland since 2006, Jillian is past President of the Rotary Club of St. John’s Northwest and looks forward to continuing her strong engagement in the community.


First cohort graduates from unique, international joint program

On June 24, the first cohort of a unique program based on an international partnership between Saint Mary’s University and Beijing Normal University-Zhuhai (BNUZ) walked across the stage to receive their degrees in China.

The business students are the first to graduate from a joint program from BNUZ and Saint Mary’s University.

A delegation from Saint Mary’s were in China to attend the ceremony, including Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray, President and Vice-Chancellor; Dr. Esther Enns, Associate Vice President, and Dr. Miguel Morales, from the Sobey School of Business. They joined Prof. Qingyun Tu, President, Beijing Normal University-Zhuhai; Prof. Ailan Fu, Vice-President and Prof. Xin Zhong, Dean of International Business Faculty to confer the degrees. Ms. Wenjun Zheng presented the Valedictory Address to her fellow graduates.

The successful partnership between Saint Mary’s and BNUZ dates back to 2002. Since then hundreds of BNUZ and Saint Mary’s students have benefitted from unique shared programs and international education opportunities.

“Together, Beijing Normal University - Zhuhai and Saint Mary’s University share one vision,” said Dr. Summerby-Murray at the ceremony. “We are working to create a world that embraces and values global connections. That original vision, to form lasting connections between our nations and between our cultures, is the foundation of our partnership.”

Government of Canada partners with Saint Mary’s to create new coastal habitat and combat climate change

Nova Scotia will soon be home to more coastal habitat and defences against flooding and erosion as the result of a $1.8 million partnership between the Government of Canada and Saint Mary’s University.

“This support from the federal government is crucial. We will use it to create new salt marsh habitat around the Bay of Fundy and beyond, addressing the impact of climate change on our region and tackling a global problem,” said Dr.  Danika van Proosdij, the project lead and a professor at Saint Mary’s University. “Using nature-based strategies and restructuring dyke systems, we will create new vibrant ecosystems for marine life to prosper and new marshes that can absorb rising sea levels and storm surges.”

The new project, Making Room for Wetlands: Implementation of Managed Realignment for Salt Marsh Restoration and Climate Change Adaptation in Nova Scotia, seeks to restore over 75 hectares of tidal wetland (i.e., salt marsh) habitat through the realignment and decommissioning of dyke infrastructure at multiple sites in the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. The project will also help to build the Atlantic region’s scientific and technical capacity to manage future realignment and restoration projects.

“At Saint Mary's, community is at the heart of what we do, and that extends to our research,” said Saint Mary’s University president Robert Summerby-Murray. “Dr. van Proosdij’s project shows our commitment to using our knowledge and expertise to address challenges facing our region and the world. I want to thank the Government of Canada for supporting Atlantic Canadian researchers who are at the forefront of combating climate change.”

This project will be undertaken through a well-established partnership between Saint Mary’s University and CB Wetlands & Environmental Specialists (CBWES) Inc. using innovative and proven techniques with a comprehensive monitoring program.

Aspects of the project will also be conducted in consultation with the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and in collaboration with Queen’s University Department of Civil Engineering, the Ecology Action Centre (EAC), Dalhousie University’s School of Planning and School of Resource and Environmental Studies.

This project was announced on Monday, June 25, 2018, as part of the Coastal Restoration announcement made by the Honourable Scott Brison, President of Treasury Board Canada, M.P. for Kings-Hants on behalf of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. It was announced that four organizations will receive together over $7 million over 5 years for projects to help restore coastal habitats in Nova Scotia and in the Arctic.


“I am proud to support these Coastal Restoration Fund projects that will restore and rehabilitate important coastal habitats in Nova Scotia and Nunavut. Our funding will encourage and build local community capacity to maintain and restore aquatic habitats.”

- The Honourable Scott Brison, President of Treasury Board Canada

From the announcement event

Saint Mary’s new Department of Criminology hosts ground-breaking national conference on harm-reduction in the justice system


More than 200 scholars, corrections workers, and social-justice experts from Canada and beyond came together for a fruitful exchange of ideas on harm reduction in the criminal-justice system at Saint Mary’s this past Thursday and Friday.

 Criminology graduate student Omotimilehin Idris presenting during the “Transnational Perspectives” session

Criminology graduate student Omotimilehin Idris presenting during the “Transnational Perspectives” session

For the past eight years, the National Conference on Critical Perspectives: Criminology and Social Justice has been held in Ottawa, and focused on scholarly participants. This year marks the first in which the conference will begin visiting communities across Canada, and also the first in which it substantially moves outside the university’s walls to holistically address issues around crime and justice.

Besides scholars, professionals and employees within the Canadian corrections system, social-justice experts, and non-profit workers came together to discuss new ideas around harm reduction.

“The classic idea of harm reduction is around drug use,” says Diane Crocker, chair of Saint Mary’s Department of Criminology. “And that’s being addressed here, but we’re also expanding the scope to look at how the criminal-justice system at large can harm people, or even how larger social structures cause harm, and exploring how that can be recognized.”

Represented at the conference were universities in Canada, New Zealand, and the UK; criminal-justice experts from the Nova Scotia Department of Justice, and the Halifax Regional Police; representatives from First Nations across Canada; and several levels of government.

Government representatives included Karen Hudson, QC, Deputy Minister of Justice and Deputy Attorney General of Nova Scotia; Denise Perret, Deputy Minister of the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness; Tracey Taweel, Deputy Minister of the Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture, and Heritage; Lynn Hartwell, Deputy Minister of the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services; and Karen Gatien, Associate Deputy Minister of the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

Dr. Crocker hopes that the conference’s success will be replicated in coming years.

“We’ve set a high bar in terms of having an integrated conference of academics, community members, and criminal-justice professionals coming together to share ideas,” she says. “This has been an incredibly valuable two days.”

The conference was a joint effort between the newly formed Department of Criminology of Saint Mary’s University, and the Nova Scotia Criminal Justice Association.