Media Release

Michael Durland named Chancellor of Saint Mary's University

Dr. Michael Durland

Dr. Michael Durland

Saint Mary’s University’s Board of Governors is proud to announce that alumnus Michael Durland BComm’87 DComm’10 (SMU), PhD (Queen’s) has accepted the role Chancellor of Saint Mary’s University.

“As an institution, we are incredibly honoured and proud that Michael Durland is taking on the role of Chancellor of the University,” said Saint Mary’s President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray.  “His long and successful career in corporate Canada and as an entrepreneur and investor positions him as an excellent role model and inspiration for our students and our community. This appointment builds upon his loyal and generous support of our students as a mentor, university champion and through the Durland Innovation Fund. Today is a great day to be a Santamarian.”

Durland is the former Group Head and CEO, Global Banking and Markets, for Scotiabank. He retired from Scotiabank in 2016 to pursue a variety of business, philanthropic, and academic interests. Today, he is the CEO of Melancthon Capital.  

“Every time I walk through the front door of Saint Mary’s, I see a group of passionate students and professors thinking beyond the problems of today to what is on the horizon,” said Durland. “The university’s innovative, interdisciplinary approach to learning, teaching and research places them on the forefront of educating the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs. To serve as Chancellor at this special university that has played such a critical role in my life and for my family is an honour.”

In addition to his role as CEO of Melancthon Capital, Durland is:

  • a founding principal in Cabot Links;

  • Chair of the Board of Directors of Price Street Inc.;

  • Chair of the Board of Directors of TruLeaf Sustainable Agriculture;

  • Chair of the Board of Directors of Dessa;

  • Chair of the Board of Directors of Receptiviti;

  • a member of the Board of the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation;

  • a member of the Board of the True Patriot Love Foundation;

  • a professor of global practice, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto.

In accepting the role of Chancellor, Durland takes over from Paul D. Sobey, DComm’11, former President and Chief Executive Officer of Empire Company Limited, who served in this role since 2014.

“While his time as chancellor has come to a close, Dr. Paul Sobey continues as an active and engaged leader in the Saint Mary’s community,” said Summerby-Murray. “We are incredibly grateful for his continued commitment to Saint Mary’s and his exemplary leadership during his tenure.”

Durland will be installed as University Chancellor at a convocation ceremony on May 15, 2019.

Student entrepreneurs from across Atlantic Canada at Saint Mary’s for business development conference

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Student entrepreneurs from across Atlantic Canada will be working closely with experienced entrepreneurs to help develop their businesses at the Starting Point Entrepreneurship Conference taking place at Saint Mary’s University.

The conference begins on Tuesday, Feb. 19, and will bring student entrepreneurs from post-secondary institutions and high schools from multiple provinces together to work with entrepreneurs, CEOs and startup experts. The students have the chance to work directly with the entrepreneurs to help brings their business ideas to fruition or grow an existing business. Events include keynote speakers, master classes with successful businesspeople, funder speed dating and the Iron Entrepreneur Tournament.  At the end of the conference, students have a chance to win cash investments for their businesses.

This year’s conference theme is “From Vision to Venture.” The theme is about encouraging and inspiring students to bring their ideas to reality by giving them the confidence and tools to do so. Conference proceedings such as master classes, the iron entrepreneur competition and the keynote speaker will focus on helping students to realize that vision and help them to bring it to fruition through actionable advice and inspiration.

Since it began in 2015, the conference has hosted 590 student entrepreneurs from post-secondary institutions and high schools from across the country and given over $40,000 in funding and prizes. The conference is organized by the Saint Mary’s University Entrepreneurship Centre. Over the past five years, SMUEC programs have provided opportunities to more than 4,500 students, allowing them to be engaged in curricular and extra-curricular activities. 

To learn more about the Starting Point Conference visit www.startingpointconference.com.

Preparing students for the workforce, supporting entrepreneurship focus of new RBC-SMU partnership

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A new partnership between Saint Mary’s University and the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) will create new co-operative education positions and expand entrepreneurial coaching, skill building and mentoring for Saint Mary’s students.

On Thursday, Feb.14, 2019, Saint Mary’s University and the RBC Future Launch Program announced the establishment of the RBC Talent Hub at the Saint Mary’s University Entrepreneurship Centre. The partnership is supported by a gift of $695,000 over three years from the RBC Foundation in support of RBC Future Launch. The new RBC Talent Hub will encompass four initiatives designed to expand cooperative education and entrepreneurship opportunities for Saint Mary’s students.

“As a national leader in business education, Saint Mary’s has a history of driving entrepreneurship and innovation,” said Saint Mary’s University President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray. “Through this new partnership, we are looking to bridge the gap between the needs of our changing economy and what students are learning. Together with RBC, we can better prepare our students for the workforce and support the growth of Saint Mary’s as a key driver of entrepreneurial culture and success in our region.”

Chris Ronald, RBC Regional President, Atlantic provinces and Saint Mary’s University President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray

Chris Ronald, RBC Regional President, Atlantic provinces and Saint Mary’s University President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray

RBC Future Launch is a 10-year, $500 million commitment to empowering Canadian youth for the jobs of tomorrow. With a focus on networking, skills development, practical work experience and mental wellbeing supports and services, the initiative aims to help break down the barriers facing young people.

“Canada is at a transition point, economically, socially and technologically, and universities play an important role in positioning our country for tomorrow,” said Chris Ronald, RBC Regional President, Atlantic provinces.  “Our country’s future prosperity will depend on our young people and their ability to lead us forward, which is why we are so proud to help bring students high quality experiential learning opportunities through the RBC Talent Hub.”

The RBC Talent Hub Program will consist of:

•      Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) program: rotating, nationally recognized EIRs who will coach and mentor students and help connect local entrepreneur-led businesses with co-operative education opportunities.

•      Entrepreneurial Mindset Success Certificate: multi-level skilled entrepreneurship training workshops for Saint Mary’s students.

•      Student Consultant Team: co-operative education students will run this self-led student consulting practice focused on the needs of entrepreneur-led businesses.

•      Talent Fund: fund student co-op placements in the region and support opportunities for students to grow their own business as part of a co-op term.

Gregg Curwin (BComm’90), the inaugural RBC Entrepreneur in Residence

Gregg Curwin (BComm’90), the inaugural RBC Entrepreneur in Residence

Chris Ronald also announced the inaugural RBC Entrepreneur in Residence.  An innovative alumnus and industry disruptor with decades of business experience, Gregg Curwin (BComm’90) is the director, and former president & CEO, of TruLeaf Sustainable Agriculture, a company that has created an indoor farming system to grow fresh plants for food and medicines. In his advisory role as EIR, Curwin will work within Saint Mary’s University Entrepreneurship Centre to coach and mentor students and help to build relationships with regional entrepreneurs.

“I am thrilled to be a part of this partnership between Saint Mary’s and RBC,” said Curwin. “This type of forward-thinking approach is exactly what is needed to prepare students for the demands of the workforce and the opportunities they have before them as business leaders and entrepreneurs. Some of the most important things I learned about being an entrepreneur came from my mentors. Being able to share my knowledge with the next generation, and pay it forward, is an incredibly rewarding experience.”

CLARI creates powerful partnerships between universities and communities

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On the surface, implicit bias training for police, tidal energy development and bringing the family pet to the nursing home seem to have little in common.

At Saint Mary’s, they represent successful community-based collaborations for CLARI, the pan-university Change Lab Action Research Initiative, based at the university.

This work was celebrated on Tuesday, January 22 when team members from participating universities and community organizations gathered at the CLARI space on campus.

‘“CLARI connects university professors, experts in their fields, with community groups in need of that expertise for community-based projects,” said Adam Sarty, AVP Research and Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research.

“These projects are proof of concept and would not have been possible without the partnerships and funding available through CLARI. The demand is there, and we look forward to the new opportunities for collaborations that 2019 will bring,” he adds.

In addition to the projects mentioned above, CLARI has also supported partnerships to:

See the CLARI progress report for more:  https://smu.ca/webfiles/CLARIReport2018.pdf

See the CLARI progress report for more: https://smu.ca/webfiles/CLARIReport2018.pdf

  • promote cultural food security for newcomers,

  • evaluate an arts-based entrepreneurship program for youth,

  • research barriers faced by people living with disabilities through evidence-based solutions,

  • explore what justice means to those who have experienced gender-based violence, and

  • research ways to improve outcomes for incarcerated people returning to the community.

"CLARI has enabled community needs to be addressed by faculty expertise, a truly novel approach to research in Nova Scotia," said Gayle MacDonald, the associate vice-president, research at Mount Saint Vincent University. "‎Faculty learn the complexity of working with community, community groups learn the precision and patience applied research requires, and in the mix, students are direct participants in the process. As a Change Action Laboratory, CLARI has lived up to its claims. The Mount is proud to be part of this initiative."

The CLARI network spans the province, combining the talents and resources of its six founding partner universities: Acadia University, Cape Breton University, Mount Saint Vincent University, St. Francis Xavier University, Saint Mary’s University, Université Sainte-Anne and the Nova Scotia Community College’s 13 campuses. CLARI partners assist communities in all parts of the province to develop social and economic change projects while providing enhanced learning opportunities for students.



Honorary Degree: Scott Armour McCrea

Scott Armour McCrea, Doctor of Commerce, honoris causa
Community builder, real estate innovator and entrepreneur

Scott Armour McCrea

Scott Armour McCrea

A life-long Haligonian, Mr. McCrea's deep-rooted understanding of the enduring impact of real estate development on communities comes naturally to him. He is the second generation to direct The Armour Group Limited, a family-held company whose roots in Halifax are anchored to the integration of the ownership, construction and management of their properties, which include many of the city's historic and traditional spaces.

As the Chief Executive Officer of The Armour Group Limited, he leads one of Atlantic Canada’s largest fully integrated real estate and investment concerns. An essential part of his work is fostering community development. He wants his grandchildren to be able to see the positive impact that The Armour Group’s real estate developments have had on the region. 

Prior to August 2011, Mr. McCrea was Executive Vice-President of Cominar Real Estate Investment Trust (CUF.UN- TSX) and was the founding CEO of Overland Realty; a TSX-V corporation focused on Atlantic Canadian real estate opportunities. Overland Realty was subsequently acquired by Cominar REIT. Mr. McCrea’s 25 years of experience include the development and management of complex real estate projects in the commercial, residential, hospitality and tourism-related fields. He has successfully negotiated hundreds of millions in debt and equity placements and property acquisitions. His achievements include the development of the RBC Waterside Centre in downtown Halifax and the Queen’s Marque district on the Halifax waterfront, which will represent an almost $200 million private investment in the region with a target completion date in early 2020.

Mr. McCrea has been an active participant on various Boards and non-profit organizations within the community; most recently these have included Mount St. Vincent University, Royal Host Inc. and the Halifax Grammar School as co-chair of the Engaging Excellence Capital Campaign.  His accomplishments have led him to be the recipient of several awards including Canada’s Top 40 under 40, Halifax’s Business Person of the Year (2006), and one of Atlantic Canada’s Top 50 CEOs. Mr. McCrea is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario and the University of Toronto, where he studied business and economics.