Convocation

Dr. Christa Brosseau wins President’s Award for Excellence in Research

Saint Mary’s professor Dr. Christa Brosseau (left)

Saint Mary’s professor Dr. Christa Brosseau (left)

Dr. Christa Brosseau has won the Saint Mary’s University President’s Award for Excellence in Research for her outstanding work in the Chemistry department at Saint Mary’s.

Created in 1989 to honour outstanding research conducted by a full-time faculty member, the recipients of the Saint Mary’s University President’s Award for Excellence in Research must have a record of continued and exceptional contribution to research and scholarship, as well as national or international recognition as an authority in a major field of knowledge.

A world leader in her field, Dr. Christa Brosseau is an internationally recognized, highly productive, and influential scholar in the areas of electrochemistry, spectroscopy, and nanotechnology. By any metric of research success, be it number of publications, quality of publications, research grants obtained, awards received, high quality personnel trained, degree of innovation, potential for application, or knowledge transfer achieved, Dr. Brosseau exemplifies research excellence.

Dr. Christa Brosseau receiving the Saint Mary’s University President’s Award for Excellence in Research

Dr. Christa Brosseau receiving the Saint Mary’s University President’s Award for Excellence in Research

As a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Sustainable Chemistry and Materials, Dr. Brosseau has received more than $1.1-million in research funding in the previous five years from such sources as Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). She has trained nearly 40 students in her lab since 2009; these students have received more than 25 awards for their own research presentations and publications.

With an interdisciplinary Chemistry research program spanning the fields of spectroscopy, electrochemistry, nanoscience and biomedical studies, Dr. Brosseau’s innovations in the area of Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy allows for detection of biomolecules that revolutionize the way we can detect and diagnose diseases. Dr. Brosseau and her research group have developed fabric chips, or wearable sensor technology, that lead to many health applications. This technology has been applied to earlier detection of diseases such as tuberculosis and preeclampsia. This work can also be used to help understand how diseases are spread.

A tireless champion of science literacy, Dr. Brosseau speaks frequently at international conferences, meetings, and seminars, communicating her research findings and their potential applications to solve real world challenges to wide audiences. Her creative and innovative research appears in the top scientific journals, and her scientific work is often profiled in technology and industry-based outlets due to its high impact.

Dr. Brosseau partners her research passion with a high degree of commitment to teaching and service to Saint Mary’s University and to her professional community. She is the former Chairperson and current Vice-Chairperson of the Canadian Section of the Electrochemical society, Co-President of nanoAtlantic, and a board member of Techsploration. She won the Discovery Centre’s Emerging Professional Award in 2013 and the SMUSA faculty of Science teaching award in 2010. Saint Mary’s University is fortunate indeed that Dr. Christa Brosseau calls Saint Mary’s home.

Congratulations Dr. Brosseau!

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.

Historic day: First graduating class at SMU in unique 2+2 partnership with BNUZ

bnuz_group_2x2_2019.jpg

Twenty-eight students from China graduated from Saint Mary’s on May 17, becoming the first cohort to complete a unique 2+2 Arts degree program in partnership with Beijing Normal University - Zhuhai (BNUZ).

“You are part of an historic happening,” President Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray told the group at a reception in the Library the night before the Faculty of Arts convocation ceremonies. “As far as we know, no other Canadian university has a partnership with a university in China in Arts.”

Through the 2+2 program, Chinese students complete the first two years of their undergraduate Arts degree at BNUZ, and the final two years at Saint Mary’s. Since September 2017 when the first cohort arrived, more than 80 BNUZ students have registered at Saint Mary’s.

Some of the new graduates are heading home to China but a number will stay in Canada to pursue further studies, said Yajie “Cora” Cao, who majored in Asian Studies. On behalf of her fellow students, she thanked Saint Mary’s faculty and staff at the reception for a memorable learning experience, and for helping students with ongoing challenges such as language and cultural differences.

Zining Chen was thrilled that her mother came to Canada for the first time to attend her graduation. They spent a week travelling out west in Vancouver, Jasper and Banff National Park before returning to Halifax for Friday’s ceremony, which included a special portion for the BNUZ students.

“I’m applying for postgraduate studies, so I’m considering staying in Canada,” said Chen, admitting that her mom “really misses me but it’s ok because she knows I am so happy here.”

While it was helpful having BNUZ schoolmates here, Chen also worked hard to meet new people: “You need to make friends other than your friends who came with you. You need to overcome the language barrier, so I tried to attend as many activities on campus as I could.”

XiaoJiao Wang enjoyed her studies in Halifax but was looking forward to heading back to China on Sunday.

“I haven’t been home for two years,” said Wang, who stayed at SMU for summer classes last year. “I really miss my family but I needed to work hard because I know they always support me. I didn’t want to let them down.”

Her Linguistics major and German language studies at SMU will be a great addition to her prior education in teaching Chinese as a second language, she said. She also volunteered at the Halifax Chinese Language School, and found it interesting to teach Canadian-born students of Chinese descent who didn’t speak any Chinese.

“In China, there are a great number of people learning English now,” she said, adding she’s planning to pursue graduate work next in applied linguistics, toward her teaching career. “I think this degree will help me a lot for my future studies.”

Another highlight for the graduating class was the chance to reconnect with a familiar face from home: Dr. Yue “Cecilia” Qiu had taught them linguistics in their first year at BNUZ, and came on a faculty exchange to SMU two years ago to teach Chinese language classes. Now BNUZ’s Director of the Office of International Exchange and Cooperation, and Associate Dean of the School of Chinese, Dr. Qiu joined Dean of Arts Dr. Margaret MacDonald onstage in the McNally Auditorium to wish the students well after they received their parchments.

“Congratulations to our students, you tried your best and I wish you more success in your future,” said Dr. Qiu, also thanking SMU and its professors. “This is a very good beginning stage for their following future planning, they will have a very good bridge to the friendship between Chinese and Canadian people.”

Saint Mary’s is also a good bridge to friendships in other countries as one of Canada’s most globally connected universities, with students from more than 110 countries. The Faculty of Arts also bestowed degrees this spring to graduates from across Canada, as well as Antigua & Barbuda, the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Bermuda, Brazil, Ghana, India, Italy, Japan, Mauritius, Nepal, Pakistan, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Turkey, the U.S., Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The SMU-BNUZ partnership began in 2002 and includes a study abroad program, transfer credit agreements, and a satellite SMU campus established at BNUZ in 2014. It offers an annual five-week summer study abroad program at BNUZ on Chinese history and culture, as well as a three-week summer program for Chinese students, focused on North American culture and English language. SMU and BNUZ also collaborate in offering four professional development institutes for academic faculty and administrative staff from the two universities.

Dr. Roby Austin recognized with the Father William A. Stewart Medal for Excellence in Teaching

Bafana Mashingaidze BSc’14 MBA’16, Secretary of the Alumni Council, with Dr. Roby Austin

Bafana Mashingaidze BSc’14 MBA’16, Secretary of the Alumni Council, with Dr. Roby Austin

Dr. Roby Austin, Professor of Astronomy & Physics, has been recognized by her current and former students and colleagues with the Father William A. Stewart Medal for Excellence in Teaching for her dedicated teaching approach and empowerment of women in science. 

She received the award at convocation on May 17, 2019.

Since joining Saint Mary’s in 2004, Dr. Austin has served on the Saint Mary’s Academic Senate and curriculum committees for Senate and the Faculty of Science. The classes she teaches range from first year physics courses to graduate level courses, and she has supervised both B.Sc. Honours and M.Sc. students. Her focus as a teacher is to create a classroom environment which encourages students to work with and understand the material. Alumni commend her for her accommodating and respectful approach with her students. 

An accomplished researcher, Dr. Austin has published more than 20 papers and received more than $4 million in research grants. She is committed to continuous learning, and is a member of the Division of Physics Education of the Canadian Association of Physicists, the Forum on Education of the American Physical Society, and the American Association of Physics Teachers. Students recognize her dedication to learning and improving teaching methods in the classroom. 

Outside of the classroom, Dr. Austin volunteers her time with Techsploration and Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Atlantic. These organizations create opportunities for girls and young women to explore science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and empower them to consider a career in STEM. 

The Medal for Excellence in Teaching is named for the late Father William A. Stewart, a Professor of Philosophy and administrator at Saint Mary’s University from 1950-1982. Father Stewart was known for his inclusivity, approachability, innovative teaching methods, and service to the University. The Medal is awarded by the Saint Mary’s University Alumni Association in partnership with the Faculty Union.

Dr. Michael Durland installed as University Chancellor

Dr. Michael Durland BComm’87 DComm’10 (SMU), PhD (Queen’s) was installed as the Chancellor of Saint Mary’s University at convocation ceremonies this morning.

For more information, see the media release announcing his appointment: Michael Durland named Chancellor of Saint Mary's University.

To watch his installment, see the May 15 - Morning ceremony.

Slideshow

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.

Honorary Degree: Rob Steele

Robert (Rob) G. Steele, Doctor of Commerce, Honoris Causa
President & CEO, Newfoundland Capital Corporation Limited CEO, Steele Auto Group

Rob Steele

Rob Steele

Recognized as one of Atlantic Canada's top chief executive officers, entrepreneur Rob Steele is a natural-born trailblazer.

With more than 18 years in the communications industry, Mr. Steele, a Canadian Broadcast Industry Hall of Fame inductee, also has an impressive record of success in the auto sales sector; he has built the region’s largest and most diversified automobile group.

Through meaningful and targeted philanthropy, Mr. Steele’s companies, Newcap Radio and the Steele Auto Group, support many charitable causes, and he is personally involved with the Alzheimer's Society, the Mental Health Foundation, Family SOS, Daffodil House, Feed Nova Scotia, and the Arthritis Society.

Committed to giving back to the community, Mr. Steele currently sits on the boards of Montreal-based Stingray Digital and Atlantic Signature Mortgage of Halifax. He also serves as a director of the Halifax Mooseheads and is on the advisory committee for Junior Achievement of Nova Scotia; he will be inducted into the Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame in June of this year.

Mr. Steele is past co-chair of the East Coast Music Awards (ECMA) event committee and continues to be involved with the ECMAs in an advisory capacity. He is also a former Halifax Metro Chamber of Commerce board member and former director of Advancement Nova Scotia, an advocacy organization designed to help build a stronger Nova Scotia economy.