2nd cohort graduates from SMU-BNUZ joint degree program

On June 29, the second cohort of business students graduated from a unique program offered by Saint Mary’s University and Beijing Normal University-Zhuhai (BNUZ).

Clad in academic caps and gowns, a total of 68 Chinese students received dual degrees that day: a Bachelor of Commerce from Saint Mary’s and a Bachelor of Economics from BNUZ. Among them was 2019 Valedictorian Ms. Yushan Xie, who graduated summa cum laude.

Academics and administrators from both universities attended the ceremony to confer the degrees and celebrate the graduates. Prof. Ailan Fu, Vice-President, BNUZ and Dr. Malcolm Butler, Vice President, Academic and Research served as co-presiders of the convocation.

Dr. Harjeet Bhabra, Dean, Sobey School of Business and BNUZ counterpart Prof. Xin Zhong Dean, International Business Faculty presented the graduands, and President Prof. Qingyun Tu and Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray conferred the degrees.

The presidents of both universities addressed their newest alumni, wishing them well and commenting on the successful academic partnership between the two institutions.

“Your graduation today is a further reflection of the blossoming of our (historic, cross-border) partnership,” said President Summerby-Murray in his remarks, speaking from a podium decorated with small Canadian and Chinese flags.

“You are uniquely positioned for global careers. You have experienced the thinking and the scholarship of both East and West as they relate to business and enterprise. And you value the person-to-person relationships, demonstrated here today, that are and will continue to be the foundation of successful cooperation between our countries, China and Canada”.

Many of the graduates plan to begin postgraduate studies in the fall, with 48 receiving offers from offers from universities in China and abroad. Some well-known schools include Columbia University, the University of Edinburgh and the University of Sydney.

Saint Mary's and Yale partner for experiential learning in Northern Ireland

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A group of Saint Mary’s students and professors departs Halifax on Tuesday, heading overseas to share peace education workshops with children in 16 schools in Northern Ireland.

It’s the 14th annual trip to Belfast through the Northern Ireland Conflict Resolution Program, which provides unique experiential learning for students in SMU’s Faculties of Arts, Science and Commerce.

This year for the first time, an undergraduate Yale class studying political science with Dr. Bonnie Weir is collaborating with the SMU students, thanks to technology.

“They’ll have a chance to Skype into what we’re doing in real time,” says Bridget Brownlow, SMU’s Conflict Resolution Advisor and President of Peaceful Schools International.

“Our colleagues at Yale recognize Saint Mary’s as a leader in this type of experiential programming linked to civil conflict in Northern Ireland. Yale is interested in the model we use to engage with schools and communities, and has an interest in replicating our efforts in the promotion of peace education and exploring the various connections we’ve developed with schools, ex-combatants, community leaders and academics over the past 14 years. We anticipate developing a long-term, meaningful partnership.”  

The Yale students will have the chance to share questions beyond the school programming as they join in the SMU team’s discussions with ex-combatants who are now working toward peace.

Brownlow and Weir have been exploring ways to collaborate for some time. Their efforts were enhanced in November, when Brownlow and SMU President Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray took part in a symposium at Yale, co-hosted by Queen’s University Belfast. Titled “Twenty Years of Peace: Progress and Possibilities in Northern Ireland,” the conference brought together academics, community leaders, politicians and architects of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, which in 1998 marked a formal end to the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Another twist for this year’s trip to Belfast is the new series of storybooks launched in October by Peaceful Schools International, with support from SMU and SMUSA. Already shared locally with more than 1,000 elementary schoolchildren, the books were written and illustrated by three Halifax junior high students.

The Saint Mary’s students have created interactive workshops based on these books. To date, their efforts have been very well received by local children. One of the books, Animal School, has just been translated into Irish (by Prof. Neil Ó Briain of the Department of Irish Studies at Saint Mary’s) and will be presented to a Bunscoil An Tsleibhe Dhuibh, a long-term Irish medium school. Plans are underway to translate the other two books.

The Saint Mary’s team, including 25 students and four faculty members, will return to Canada on February 25. It’s the most diverse group of students to date, says Brownlow, adding it includes international students from as far away as Bangladesh, Yemen, Nigeria, Brazil, India and Jamaica.

The faculty members involved are conducting research while in Northern Ireland:

  • Dr. David Bourgeois, a Psychology professor, is studying the impact of the Peaceful Schools International program on our own student participants at SMU, as well as initiating research on the motivational profiles of Loyalist Youth involved in the ongoing activities associated with bonfires in Belfast and surrounding areas;

  • Criminology professor Dr. Ashley Carver is conducting research on Republican and Loyalist internees; and

  • Dr. Catherine Loughlin, Associate Dean of Research and Knowledge Mobilization for the Sobey School of Business, is collaborating with Dr. Carver on the role of women internees in Northern Ireland.  

For updates on the initiative, please follow Peaceful Schools International on Twitter at @PeaceatSchool and Facebook at @peacefulschoolsinternational.     

Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray appointed board chair of the Canadian Bureau for International Education


Saint Mary’s University President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray has been appointed the new chair of the board of directors of the Canadian Bureau for International Education. Dr. Summerby-Murray was first appointed to the board in January 2018, has served on the Executive Committee and was chair of the Governance Committee.

“I am truly delighted to assume the role of CBIE board chair,” said President Summerby-Murray. “I look forward to working with CBIE’s executive team and leading their board, furthering efforts to put Canada’s global engagement challenge on the agendas of government and the private sector, and to advancing the role of young people in meeting that challenge.”

The Canadian Bureau for International Education is the national organization dedicated to the internationalization of education and the expansion of educational partnerships between Canada and countries around the globe. CBIE’s pan-Canadian membership comprises 150 colleges, institutes, cégeps, universities, school boards and language schools.

“Dr. Rob Summerby-Murray is known as a Canadian leader in international education,” said Dr. David Ross, Past Board Chair. “Under his tenure, Saint Mary’s University has distinguished itself as one of Canada’s most globally-connected universities. His experience spearheading strong partnerships with post-secondary institutions around the world and his personal commitment to global outreach will be valuable assets to CBIE.”

Born in Christchurch, New Zealand, Dr. Summerby-Murray received his PhD in Geography from the University of Toronto in 1992. An award-winning educator, Dr. Summerby-Murray is an experienced academic administrator and post-secondary advocate. He participates on public and private boards, including Junior Achievement of Nova Scotia, the Business-Education Council and the Advisory Council for the Order of Nova Scotia. In May 2018, he was named one of Atlantic Canada Business Magazine’s Top 50 CEOs.

“I am looking forward to working with Dr. Summerby-Murray over the next couple of years in his new role as board chair,” said Larissa Bezo, Interim President and CEO, CBIE. “He brings a great depth of experience that will offer new insights into the benefits and challenges of internationalization and position us well as we advocate for global education for more young Canadians.”

To learn more about the Canadian Bureau for International Education visit

See also, Saint Mary's President named Chair Designate of Canadian Bureau for International Education.

Collaboration agreement signed between Saint Mary’s and LAU

Saint Mary’s President Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray shakes hands with LAU President Dr Joseph G. Jabbra

Saint Mary’s President Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray shakes hands with LAU President Dr Joseph G. Jabbra

Saint Mary’s University and the Lebanese American University (LAU), have signed an agreement that will open doors to more collaboration between the two institutions.  The agreement allows for a variety of new opportunities including academic and professional exchange, joint research and short-term academic programs.

LAU President Dr. Joseph G. Jabbra welcomed Saint Mary’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray, to the Jamil Iskandar Conference Room at LAU’s Byblos campus on October 9, 2018, to sign the agreement.

President Jabbra is known to many on campus from his time spent as both an active member of the political science department and as the Vice President, Academic and Research from 1980 to 1990. In April 2017, President Jabbra received a Doctor of Civil Law, honoris causa, from Saint Mary’s.

Saint Mary’s President Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray and LAU President Dr Joseph G. Jabbra sign the collaboration agreement between the two universities.

Saint Mary’s President Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray and LAU President Dr Joseph G. Jabbra sign the collaboration agreement between the two universities.

Saint Mary’s University has a well-established commitment to cultural diversity and encourages and supports the development of a global perspective. This new collaboration supports Saint Mary’s commitment to international and intercultural education and the global connectivity of the university and the university’s research partnerships. Saint Mary’s is recognized as a Canadian leader in these areas with extensive international outreach and collaboration by way of institutional linkages with universities around the world. This agreement with LAU marks another opportunity for students, faculty and staff to benefit from global perspectives and partnerships.

At the signing, Dr. Summerby-Murray emphasized the importance of the collaboration and the strong foundation that is already in place between both institutions and countries. The end of the event was marked by the exchange of gifts between the two presidents. The partnership is expected to begin shortly, with a representative of LAU expected to arrive on campus later this month.