Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

John Peacock installed as StFX’s 10th Chancellor

September 30th, 2018
Chancellor John Peacock, Mike Boyd and Kent MacDonald
StFX's 10th Chancellor John Peacock (centre) is pictured with StFX Board of Governors Chair Mike Boyd (left) and StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald

John Peacock, a distinguished Canadian corporate and philanthropic leader and a StFX alumnus from the Class of 1963, has officially become the university’s 10th Chancellor.

Mr. Peacock was installed as Chancellor during a ceremony held in the StFX Chapel on Sept. 30, 2018, the final day of Homecoming Weekend 2018. 

“I am delighted to have this opportunity to serve as StFX’s 10th Chancellor. It is both an honour and a privilege and I would like to thank the Board of Governors for giving me this opportunity,” said Mr. Peacock, who noted his affiliation with StFX started 58 years ago this month when he arrived on campus after graduating from St. Patrick’s High School in Quebec City. He has since gone on to an inspired career, with over 40 years accounting and senior business leadership experience. He is the retired executive vice-president of Fednav Limited, a Canadian ocean-going, dry-bulk ship-owning and chartering group. 

“The role of Chancellor is an ambassadorial and ceremonial one, advancing StFX’s interests provincially, nationally and internationally, serving as an advocate for the university’s history, mission and vision. The Chancellor is a distinguished person with a record of demonstrated excellence in his/her chosen field and in community service; an individual whose reputation and experience exemplifies StFX values. It is a role made for Mr. Peacock. He is a StFX champion through and through,” said Board of Governors Chair Mike Boyd, who introduced Mr. Peacock and delivered the Oath of Office.

StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald officiated over the investiture, investing Mr. Peacock with the robes of office. "We are very honoured to announce John as the Chancellor of StFX University," said Dr. MacDonald. "He and his wife, Adrienne, both graduates of the Class of ‘63, embody what it means to be Xaverians — especially the StFX legacy of service to our communities and others. It’s wonderful to officially welcome them both back home."

A well-respected leader, Mr. Peacock continues to serve on Fednav’s board of directors. He also serves on the board of Teekay Offshore Partners, and although retired from numerous community boards, he remains active in pursuing the philanthropic interests of The Peacock Family Foundation. 

He and his wife Adrienne, also a 1963 StFX graduate, have long supported their alma mater. Mr. Peacock served on the Coady International Institute Advisory Board and Mrs. Peacock on the StFX Board of Governors. They are Coady International Institute Honorary Patrons, and together, they established the Dr. John T. Sears Chair in Corporate Responsibility at StFX to recognize Mr. Peacock’s former professor who greatly impacted his academic experience while a student.


In his installation address, Mr. Peacock thanked and acknowledged his predecessor, Dr. Susan Crocker, StFX’s ninth Chancellor, and the first woman and the first lay person to fulfill this role. “Susan, you have set a fine example of excellence. I will do my best to do the same.”

Mr. Peacock says he very much enjoyed his years at StFX. “I believe I matured in many ways, received a good education, met a lovely girl from the Mount who is with me here today, graduated in 1963, and headed for the big city of Montreal to pursue my studies to become a chartered accountant.

“Over the intervening 55 years, I have watched StFX grow and prosper.”

StFX, he says, has changed in many ways in that time—more students, expanded curriculum, improved physical facilities and enhanced reputation—but the essence of the university has not changed.

“I think this point is well made by Dr. MacDonald when he recently stated: ‘StFX is a small university by design. While our students’ minds are broadened by informative learning, they are also shaped by the strong sense of community that’s only possible at a small, primarily residential university.’”

Mr. Peacock noted the primary responsibility of the Chancellor is to serve as Chair of Convocation and confer all degrees of the university. In addition, the Chancellor is expected to represent the university to the external community and, in this role, is an advocate for the vision of the university as endorsed by the Board of Governors.

Mr. Peacock said that while reflecting on the state of the world today can be daunting with concerning issues such as climate change, the rise of authoritarian rulers and the consequent threats to democratic institutions, and the enormous disparities in living conditions and concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, there is also hope.


“Our hope for change is right here in Antigonish. Our university is an agent for change. Our students are this engaged and aware generation. And it is their courage to confront the injustices and challenges of the world today which should give us confidence that optimism is justified, and they can, and will, make the world a better place.

“I very much look forward to the opportunity of being a witness to the efforts of our students, to hopefully interact with them from time to time, and to shake their hands and greet them as they receive their degrees from this wonderful institution, which I had the honour of graduating from 55 years ago.”

Mr. Peacock says he very much looks forward to working with all to achieve StFX’s motto, “Whatsoever things are true.”

Congratulations and greetings during the ceremony came from across the country, including from Central Nova MP Sean Fraser on behalf of the Government of Canada, and the Hon. Randy Delorey, Nova Scotia Minister of Health and Wellness, Minister of Gaelic Affairs and MLA for Antigonish, on behalf of the province. 

Also bringing greetings were Chief Paul Propser, Mi’kmaw First Nation, Paq’tnkek; Rev. Dr. John Barry, Chair, Council of Priests, Diocese of Antigonish; Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher; Antigonish County Warden Owen McCarron; Dr. Adela Sandness, Chair of the StFX University Senate on behalf of faculty; Barry Purcell of Facilities Management on behalf of StFX staff; StFX Alumni Association President Glenn Horne; and StFX Students’ Union President Rebecca Mesay. 

Vicar of the Founder and Bishop of Antigonish, the Most. Rev. Brian Dunn, delivered the benediction, and University Chaplain Gary MacPherson delivered the invocation.  

StFX anthropology professor Dr. L. Jane McMillan served as Master of Ceremonies.

Board of Governors student representative Emma Crilly read a passage from the university’s motto from the Philippians 4:4-9, Whatsoever things are true.

A reception followed the ceremony in Dennis Hall. 

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