Honorary Degree

Celebrating community building and philanthropy: Saint Mary’s newest honorary degree recipients

(Left to Right) Al MacPhee, Her Excellency Lady Sandra Williams BA’86, Padraig O’Malley, and Senator Dan Christmas.

(Left to Right) Al MacPhee, Her Excellency Lady Sandra Williams BA’86, Padraig O’Malley, and Senator Dan Christmas.

Community building and philanthropy are being celebrated by Saint Mary’s University this May, as the university recognizes the achievements of four new honorary degree recipients.   

The university is pleased to recognize the extraordinary achievements of:

  • Senator Dan Christmas, a Mi’kmaw leader and Independent Senator for Nova Scotia. Mr. Christmas has served in numerous leadership positions in the Mi’kmaw Nation of Nova Scotia. His work has ranged across a variety of fields including aboriginal and treaty rights, justice, policing, education, health care, human rights, adult training, business development and the environment. 

  • Padraig O’Malley, an award-winning author and peacemaker. Mr. O’Malley is an expert on democratic transitions and divided societies, with special expertise on Northern Ireland, South Africa, Iraq, Israel and Palestine. He has earned a global reputation for breaking deadlocks by bringing together parties in intractable conflicts and opening the way to dialogue.

  • Her Excellency Lady Sandra Williams BA’86, a charity founder and philanthropist. A Saint Mary’s alumna, Lady Williams is currently the president of the Antigua and Barbuda China Friendship Association. She is also the president and founder of The Halo Foundation, an umbrella charity established in December 2014 that addresses the needs of 32 charities under the patronage of the Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda.

  • Al MacPhee, an auto industry mogul and philanthropist. Mr. MacPhee has been in the auto industry for decades and was recently recognized by Ford Motor Company for his tremendous efforts and contributions to his community. He and his wife Mary are very involved with the MacPhee Centre for Creative Learning,  a not-for-profit charitable organization whose vision is to provide an alternative education model for youth in marginalized and disadvantaged circumstances.

“Saint Mary’s is known for academic excellence in arts, business and science and for our commitment to community engagement which serves as a foundation for all that we do,” said Saint Mary’s President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray. “We are proud to recognize the accomplishments of four exemplary people who share our Santamarian values, and grant them the highest honour that we can bestow, an honorary degree.”

The honorary degree recipients will receive their degrees later this May at Spring Convocation 2019, which runs from May 15 to May 17.

Honorary Degree: Senator Dan Christmas

Senator Dan Christmas

Senator Dan Christmas

Senator Dan Christmas has served in various leadership positions in the Mi’kmaw Nation of Nova Scotia. After serving five years as the Band Manager for the Community of Membertou, Senator Christmas worked for the Union of Nova Scotia Indians for 15 years—the last ten as its Director.   He was actively involved in the recognition and implementation of Mi’kmaw aboriginal and treaty rights in Nova Scotia. 

From 1997 to 2016, Senator Christmas held the position as Senior Advisor with Membertou and had assisted the Chief and Council and its Management Team with the day-to-day operations of the Community of Membertou.   Senator Christmas also served as elected councilor for Membertou for 18 years.  

Senator Christmas has been active in a number of international, national, provincial and local agencies in a wide range of fields including aboriginal & treaty rights, justice, policing, education, health care, human rights, adult training, business development and the environment.   

In 2005, Senator Christmas was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Dalhousie University and an honorary diploma from the Nova Scotia Community College in 2016.  In 2008, he was the recipient of the National Excellence in Aboriginal Leadership Award from the Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of Canada. 

In December 2016, Senator Christmas was sworn in as an Independent Senator for Nova Scotia.  Senator Christmas is the first Mi’kmaw senator to be appointed to the Senate of Canada.

 

Honorary Degree: Lady Sandra Williams

Lady Sandra Williams

Lady Sandra Williams

Her Excellency Lady Sandra Williams BA’86 was born in St. John’s, Antigua on July 15, 1963. She attended nursery school in Antigua before moving to Ottawa, Canada, at the age of three with her family, and later on to Toronto. After returning to Antigua for two years, she then moved to North Wales, United Kingdom and later to Guyana, South America where she completed high school.

Lady Williams enrolled at Saint Mary’s University in 1981, where she pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Department of Modern Languages and English, attaining distinction in her selected double major and minor. She was later awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship to pursue a Master of Science Degree in Tourism Management at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom, and earned her postgraduate Diploma in Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, also in the United Kingdom. She is a full member of the Institute, and over the years has pursued various career-related courses in Japan, Austria, Spain, Germany, France and Barbados.

Lady Williams has held significant senior managerial positions, including Director of Marketing for a regional airline and Director of Tourism in both England and Germany. She is currently the President of the Antigua and Barbuda China Friendship Association. She is also the President and Founder of The Halo Foundation, an umbrella charity established in December 2014 that addresses the needs of 32 charities under the patronage of the Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda.

 Some of the initiatives of the Halo Foundation include:

  • Colours of Charity, an event for the various local charities headlined by HRH Prince Harry on his visit to Antigua in 2017;

  • a two-year anti-bullying campaign currently being executed in six pilot schools;

  • full four-year university scholarships to Saint Mary’s University for students from Antigua and Barbuda who have exhibited acts of kindness or bravery;

  • scholarships to local institutions for children with special needs;

  • the provision of musical instruments to the Youth Symphony Orchestra;

  • part sponsorship of Team Antigua Island Girls’ row across the Atlantic Ocean; and

  • the spearheading of a youth arm of the Halo Foundation, known as Generation Y, which focuses on sensitizing young people to the importance of helping others

In 2018, Lady Williams was given the Faithful and Meritorious Cross for outstanding voluntary service to the nation of Antigua and Barbuda. She is the spouse of the Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda, His Excellency Sir Rodney Williams, and has one son, Brent.

Honorary Degree: Padraig O'Malley

Padraig O’Malley

Padraig O’Malley

Born in Dublin, Ireland, Padraig O’Malley is an award-winning author and expert on democratic transitions and divided societies, with special expertise on Northern Ireland, South Africa, Iraq, Israel and Palestine. O'Malley is the John Joseph Moakley Distinguished Professor of Peace and Reconciliation at the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston.

Professor O’Malley has earned a global reputation for breaking deadlocks by bringing together parties in intractable conflicts and opening the way to dialogue. In 2009, O'Malley launched the Forum for Cities in Transition a global forum of divided societies founded on the principle that one divided society is in the best position to help another. In September 2010, he led an intercessional symposium on the Arm Trade Treaty the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, and the Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2016, he launched the Global Alliance of Muslim's for Equality (GAME), a movement led by young Muslims across Europe & the United States to redress false perceptions of Islam, counter negative stereotypes, Islamophobia. 

Professor O’Malley was a member of the Opsahl Commission on Northern Ireland (1993), which laid much of the groundwork for peace talks culminating in the Good Friday/Belfast agreement (1998). His fifteen-year documentation of the transition from Apartheid to democracy in South Africa, The Heart of Hope is available at the Nelson Mandela Foundation website. Professor O’Malley is the subject of a documentary by James Demo, The Peacemaker – a film about O'Malley's 30+ years of work at the vanguard of peacemaking.  Professor O’Malley is also the founding editor of the New England Journal of Public Policy. A published author, his most recent title is The Two-State Delusion: Israel and Palestine – A Tale of Two Narratives (2015).

In 2018, Professor O’Malley received the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award. Other awards include the Jean Mayer Global Peacemakers Award, (Tufts University) 2015; The Liberal International Freedom Prize (European Union), 2008; and the Eire Society Gold Medal (Boston), 2008.

Honorary Degree: Al MacPhee

Al MacPhee

Al MacPhee

Al MacPhee has been in the auto industry since the early 1960s. Originally from Cape Breton, he is the past Chairman of the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association, is a Past President of the Nova Scotia Automobile Dealers Association as well as the Halifax/Dartmouth Automobile Dealers Association. Currently, he is the Chairman of Leader Auto Resources Inc. a national automotive buying group. During his career, he has served on almost every General Motors Advisory Board and Communication Team.

For over 27 years, from 1983 to 2011, Mr. MacPhee was the owner of MacPhee Chevrolet Buick Cadillac GMC Ltd., the largest General Motors dealership in Nova Scotia and the third largest dealership in Canada. At present, he is the President of MacPhee Ford in Dartmouth, NS.

Currently, he and his wife Mary are very involved with the MacPhee Centre for Creative Learning. The MCCL is a not-for-profit charitable organization whose vision is to provide an alternative education model for youth in marginalized and disadvantaged circumstances. Located in downtown Dartmouth this centre focuses on youths that are underperforming in the conventional school environment and are at serious risk of abandoning their schooling entirely.

In 2009, Mr. MacPhee was inducted into the Junior Achievement Nova Scotia’s Business Hall of Fame. He is also very honoured to be designated one of Atlantic Canada’s Top 50 CEO’.

In June 2013, the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association announced that Mr. MacPhee had won the CADA’s Laureate Dealer Recognition Award for 2013. The Laureate Award is considered to be the highest honour a new car and truck dealer can receive over the course of his or her career.

 On March 22, 2018, Mr. MacPhee was recognized as a Ford Motor Company 2018 Salute To Dealers Honoree. He was one of six Dealer Principals from Ford’s global network to receive this prestigious award which was presented by Edsel B. Ford II. This award recognized his tremendous efforts and contributions to his community throughout his career.

After 58 years in the business, Mr. MacPhee continues to work 60 hours a week in his dealership in Dartmouth.