Maritime Canadians have long been known to develop their unique brand of leadership and professional skills on the East Coast only to apply these highly desired attributes in far-away-lands. For many these individuals make their mark some place in the world while often thinking back fondly to the place where their personalities where shaped and their perspectives on life were crafted. Sadly in many cases, there are few times in life when we Maritime Canadians have the opportunity to “come home”. On March 21, 2014 I joined the lucky ones who did return to the Atlantic side of Canada. On this day I was very proud to be introduced as the 18th President of StFX University, one of North American’s great institutions of higher learning.
My return to my alma mater was special on many levels. Returning home to StFX University gave me that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to return to a university that provides a post secondary learning experience that is unparalleled in Canada. I make this statement with some level of biased pride but also based upon realities that cannot be ignored.
Having studied at several universities in North American, and having researched high performing universities across North America, I believe StFX is exemplary on so many levels (some of those I describe below). Further, having delivered addresses at higher education conferences on many campuses across Canada, USA, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, I confidently contend that StFX rates among the top 5% of all universities across the continent.
The StFX Experience
There are many things I admire about StFX. Located in the heart of Nova Scotia, I believe StFX is a great university with one of the most beautiful campuses I have ever been on. I also admire the fact that StFX is a member of the selective U4 League of universities; a group of more intimate universities that are dedicated to the fundamentals of teaching and research while also fostering a highly personal and supportive learning environment. StFX is a university that builds a sense of belonging the first day a student comes onto our campus. It is what we call the Xaverian Family.
Perhaps what happens in our classrooms is what most sets StFX apart from those institutions that desire to be like this university. Specifically, I admire StFX’s distinguished faculty and their commitment to teaching excellence and scholarship. Our professoriate are scholars who also know their students and their students get to know them well as well.
In addition to our professors, I also admire the StFX staff – the dedicated group of professionals who possess both the competence and compassion to ensure this university runs well and our students are well supported.
Perhaps most importantly, I admire StFX’s extraordinarily talented and energetic students, students who graduate to become local and global leaders and are more loyal to their alma mater than any other group of graduates in the country. Proud Xaverians like the Right Honorable Brian Mulroney and businessman (and former political and foreign diplomat) Frank McKenna are but two of the many graduates who have gone on to become world, state, provincial and community leaders.
There are many reasons I am proud to come home. Among other reasons, coming home to StFX allows me to extend my personal mission to leverage higher education to make our world a better place. What I know in my early days at this great university is that StFX is well positioned to do even greater work in this regard. A large part of this effort will be through our faculty and staff and others through our world famous Coady International Institute.
When everything is considered, I know of no place that I would rather be than at StFX University. Come see for yourself – you won’t be disappointed!