Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

StFX to honour community development and education advocate Dr. Teresa MacNeil and entrepreneur, businessman and philanthropist Lino A. Saputo, Jr. during Spring Convocation 2018

May 2nd, 2018
Excitement and achievement will mark Spring Convocation taking place on Sunday, May 6. Pictured is a scene from the 2017 Spring Convocation.

St. Francis Xavier University will bestow honorary degrees upon Dr. Teresa MacNeil of Johnstown, Cape Breton, a passionate advocate and leader in community development, life-long learning and adult education, and upon Lino A. Saputo, Jr. a Montreal-based entrepreneur, businessman and philanthropist, and Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Saputo Inc., one of the top 10 dairy processors in the world, during Spring Convocation 2018 taking place Sunday, May 6 at the Charles V. Keating Centre.

StFX will graduate over 900 students in morning and afternoon ceremonies.

Degrees, including the PhD in educational studies; Masters of Science, education and adult education; Bachelors of education, science, nursing, human nutrition, and human kinetics; and diplomas in engineering and integrated dietetic internship, will be conferred during the morning ceremony, and degrees in arts, business administration, information systems, music and diplomas in jazz studies during the afternoon program.

Dr. MacNeil will address the morning ceremony, which begins at 9 a.m.  Mr. Saputo, Jr. will deliver the address to the afternoon convocation, which starts at 3 p.m.

Other major honours presented during Spring Convocation will include the designation of professor emeritus bestowed upon retired StFX history professor Dr. Paul Phillips, a world-class scholar of British intellectual and religious history.

The University Research Award will be presented to philosophy professor Dr. William Sweet.

The Outstanding Faculty Teaching Awards will be awarded to psychology professor Dr. Erin Austen and to development studies professor and Canada Research Chair Dr. Jonathan Langdon. The Outstanding Staff Teaching Award will be presented to Patricia Budicky, senior lab instructor in the Department of Chemistry.

Senior class speakers and 2018 graduates Cameron Sehl and Alex Corrigan will deliver remarks on behalf of the Class of 2018.

2018 BIOS:


Dr. Teresa MacNeil

A passionate advocate and leader in community development, life-long learning and adult education, StFX graduate and Johnstown, Cape Breton native Dr. Teresa MacNeil spent a distinguished 37-year career at StFX. She is also noted for her contributions to numerous regional and national organizations, always with a view to making lives richer. Following early work in Newfoundland, Dr. MacNeil then moved to Cape Breton as a StFX Extension fieldworker. She completed a MSc and PhD in educational policy studies from the University of Wisconsin. From 1970-1982, she chaired StFX’s newly established Department of Adult Education, the flagship program that led to the Masters Degree in Adult Education. In 1975, she became a full professor, and in 1982 accepted the position of Director of Extension, which she held until 1993. While with Extension, Dr. MacNeil maintained a variety of positions that strengthened her work with the department including chairing the Board of Directors for Cape Breton Development Corporation; the Board of Directors for Enterprise Cape Breton; and the Provincial Task Force on the Economy of Cape Breton. From 1994-96, she served as StFX Director of Special Projects and in 1996 as StFX Advancement Director before her August 1996 retirement. Since then she has taken on numerous part-time assignments with boards, consultancies, and commissions. Professional and community highlights throughout her career span from chairing the board of directors of the Canadian Association for Adult Education to the National Advisory Group for Canada’s Adult Learning Knowledge Centre. She is a Member of the Order of Canada, the recipient of three honorary degrees and diplomas, and an inductee into the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame. She is also an Honorary Life Member, Canadian Association for Continuing University Education; Member of the Royal College of Fellows, Canadian Geographical Society; and Progress Women of Excellence of Nova Scotia.

Lino A. Saputo, Jr.

Montreal-based entrepreneur, businessman and philanthropist Lino A. Saputo, Jr. is Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Saputo Inc., one of the top 10 dairy processors in the world. Involved in the third-generation, family-run business since age 13, when he wrapped specialty cheeses, he now oversees the Quebec-based company comprised of 12,800 employees with 50 plants worldwide. Mr. Saputo, who holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Concordia University, officially joined Saputo in 1988 as an administrative assistant. Through the years he has held several positions including Vice President, Operations and Engineering; Executive Vice President Operations; and President, Cheese Division (USA). Since March 2004, he serves as President and Chief Executive Officer. In 2011, he was appointed to the position of Vice Chairman of the Board, and since August 2017, he serves as Chairman of the Board. Giving back to the community is a priority for Mr. Saputo and his family, known for their social responsibility and support of multiple organizations. Their commitment to sports, specifically soccer, is noteworthy. He is also committed to Centraide of Greater Montreal. He has co-presided over their annual fundraising campaign, and presides over the major donor campaign. He and his family have also gifted $10 million to the Montreal Heart Institute, an historic commitment dedicated to the prevention of cardiovascular disease. In 2011, he and his wife Amelia founded the Amelia and Lino A. Saputo Jr. Foundation dedicated to supporting a variety of organizations. They have particular interest in promoting healthy living initiatives and helping Montreal’s most vulnerable populations. Mr. Saputo serves on the Board of Directors of the National Bank of Canada, the Board of Directors of the Montreal Heart Institute Foundation and the Conference Board of Canada. In April 2018, he and Amelia gifted $10 million to StFX to revitalize the Oland Centre, which will become the Amelia and Lino Saputo Centre for Healthy Living, ensuring StFX and communities in northeastern Nova Scotia enjoy health and wellness opportunities for generations to come.


Dr. Paul Phillips, Department of History 

Dr. Paul Phillips is a world-class scholar of British intellectual and religious history. He taught in the StFX Department of History from 1969 until his retirement in 2007. During his 38 years at StFX, he taught and mentored several generations of students, supervising 40 theses. In addition to his busy teaching schedule, he demonstrated leadership ability, serving three terms as chair of the History Department and one term as chair of Graduate Studies. Other notable examples of his service to StFX include two terms on Senate, one term on the Board of Governors, and service on multiple committees. A first class scholar, he crafted an enduring legacy, the author of five books, editor of one volume of collected essays and co-editor of one sourcebook of documents. His illustrious career has been marked by numerous academic honours. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and has been a visiting scholar at Wolfson College, Cambridge University, Cornell University’s Institute for European Studies, and Victoria College, University of Toronto where he enjoyed the title of Northrop Frye Visiting Fellow. More recently he occupied the prestigious Gatto Chair in Christian Studies at StFX for two terms. In 2002, he was recognized with the University Research Award, and since 2007, he has held the honour of Senior Research Professor at StFX.


Dr. William Sweet, Department of Philosophy

Philosophy professor Dr. William Sweet joined the StFX faculty in 1990. He is one of the foremost Canadian academics on the history of 19th- and early 20th-century British philosophy, and one of the world’s leading scholars of British idealism. His careful, historically-grounded and innovative scholarship on this movement has led to a re-evaluation of the work of some of its key figures and of its bearing on contemporary political philosophy as a whole. He has also contributed significantly to the philosophy of culture, discussions of dignity and human rights, and the philosophy of religion. His research has led to new insights into the impact of idealism in East Asia, India, and southern Africa, and the promotion of intercultural philosophy. In addition to his many publications, Dr. Sweet has contributed to scholarship by organizing international conferences and editing collections of scholarly essays. These have stimulated many, particularly junior scholars, to expand and deepen the study of these fields. Also significant are his many publications and translations of the work of the 20th-century French philosopher, Jacques Maritain. Dr. Sweet’s work has been recognized by his election to the presidency of a number of learned societies, such as the Canadian Philosophical Association, and to the executive committees of international organizations. The recipient of numerous awards and honours, he has been invited to present his work across the globe. In 2017, he was elected by his peers as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (FRSC), a national recognition as one of the best in the field of philosophy.


Dr. Jonathan Langdon, Development Studies Program

Dr. Jonathan Langdon, StFX development studies professor and Canada Research Chair in Sustainability and Social Change Leadership, is described as a mentor and educator who brings important concepts to the surface and puts his heart and passion into teaching. An excellent professor willing to go the extra mile, students say his teaching ensures everyone is on the same level—including himself. He encourages students to work hard and explore outside their comfort zone, leading to personal and academic growth, and he works to provide student opportunities, including service learning opportunities and local and international research work. For over 15 years, Dr. Langdon has worked with social movements in Ghana, and in particular in the Ada region defending communal access to a salt yielding lagoon since 2008. More recent work has branched out to connect with other resource disputed hot spots in Ghana and Guatemala. He also works closely with renewable energy movements in Nova Scotia. His work has been published in prominent international and Canadian journals, and he is the editor of Indigenous Knowledges, Development and Education. His forthcoming book on social movement learning in Africa will be released later this year.

Dr. Erin Austen, Department of Psychology

Psychology professor Dr. Erin Austen, a passionate and knowledgeable educator and committed researcher, knows how to get the best from her students. She wants students to succeed and this desire encourages students to pursue academic excellence.  Students say she uses a teaching style that is interactive, engaging and fun, and that she is committed to providing current empirical evidence and opportunities for students to engage with the material in various ways. The student learning experience is at the centre of her work. Among her efforts, she builds in service learning experiences in her course work and ignites a passion for research in her students. She also pushes students to think critically, engage in their learning and be proud of what they have accomplished. Her unique classroom environment and varied assignments allow different learning styles to thrive, students say. Her support and guidance helps students to flourish and realize what they are capable of accomplishing. Says one former student: “She helped me find my voice, passion and ultimately helped me believe in my abilities.” 


Patricia Budicky, Senior Lab Instructor, Chemistry

Patricia Budicky, a senior lab instructor in the Department of Chemistry, has for well over a decade poured her heart and soul into helping students at StFX learn as much as possible in a supportive environment. She has worked as a lab instructor at StFX since 2005, and consistently goes above and beyond expectations in everything she does. Colleagues say she cares deeply about the students. She expects a lot from students and they tend to live up to expectations. Many cite her as an important contributor to their success in the course. She does much work to make the labs and instruments run smoothly, is a champion for students, for technology and for chemistry, keeping up with all things in the field, and is involved in supporting the X-Chem Outreach Program in regional schools. She holds an honours BSc from the University of Waterloo and an MBA from Wilfrid Laurier University.


Cameron Sehl

Cameron Sehl of Ottawa, ON, graduates from StFX with a Bachelor of Arts honours degree in economics. The proud Lane Hall Pitbull was actively involved at StFX. The current captain of the StFX Men’s Rowing team, he spent four years with the program and competed twice at Canadian nationals. On campus, he’s been a teaching assistant, a mentor to the Entrepreneurship Club, and head coach of the Eastern Highlands Special Olympics soccer and hockey teams. He was a Rhodes Scholar finalist, a 2017 recipient of the StFX MacBain/Riley Global Engagement Award, and a 2016 Cansbridge Fellow. After graduation, he will be returning to India as an OceanPath Fellow to work on Symbi Medical, a health education and patient monitoring platform that he started in 2017 to improve global healthcare access. 

Alex Corrigan

Alex Corrigan of Calgary, AB, is a Dean’s List student who graduates from StFX with a Bachelor of Science degree with an advanced major in chemistry. He has been highly involved in extracurricular activities, most notably Best Buddies, a student representative on the StFX Board of Governors, spending three years on O-Crew, coaching the Lane Hall hockey team, and sharing the role of 2018 Senior Class co-president. Additionally, through an internship this past summer, he helped the University of Calgary conduct research on finding alternative ways to diagnose concussion symptoms without using a CT scan. This research was published and he presented at a medical conference in Edmonton. A proud Xaverian, he has spoken on several occasions throughout the year, including at the X-Ring ceremony and at numerous fundraisers for the Class of 2018 Student Refugee Bursary, a bursary he helped establish. Alex hopes to study medicine after StFX and pursue his dream of becoming a pediatrician. 

Start Your Journey