Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Scholarship honours life and legacy of longtime StFX music professor Jack O’Donnell

October 29th, 2018
Fourth year honours music student Robyn Gale, the inaugural recipient of the Prof. Jack O'Donnell Scholarship

The life and legacy of the late John C. (Jack) O’Donnell, Professor Emeritus and former chair of the StFX Music Department, will live on at StFX, his alma mater, in a newly established scholarship. 

The Professor Jack O'Donnell Scholarship has been established by an anonymous donor who has admired Professor O’Donnell’s extensive service to the StFX Music Department and to the university, as well as the contributions he made to music in Nova Scotia, in Canada, and worldwide. 

Prof. O’Donnell, who passed away earlier this month, spent 40 years as a music professor at StFX. StFX awarded him an honorary degree in 2016. He also made an outstanding contribution to Canadian culture, serving for 50 years as conductor and musical director of The Men of the Deeps, North America’s only coal miner chorus, organized to preserve the rich folklore of Cape Breton’s coal mining communities. He received an Order of Canada for his work with the group. 

Prof. O’Donnell also made important contributions as a humanitarian, working along with his wife Judy to build and support L’Arche Antigonish, a community of people with and without intellectual disabilities that’s part of the international L’Arche network.


The O’Donnell Scholarship awards $1,500 and will be presented annually to a fourth year music student each September who has the highest grade average in their third year. The first recipient is Robyn Gale, a fourth year honours music student from Canning, NS. 

“I am honoured to receive the inaugural Jack O’Donnell Scholarship,” she says. 

“Although I did not know Jack personally, I deeply appreciate the contributions he made to the StFX Music Department and the greater music community. It is incredibly humbling to receive this award. His contributions continue to make an impact on the students in this program. Thank you very much.”

Kevin Brunkhorst, the current chair of the StFX Music Department says Prof. O’Donnell was a committed researcher into vocal music traditions in Nova Scotia, and he served as chair of the department several times, for many years. 

“His vision for the department was far ahead of its time, and he was a strong advocate for our discipline. It’s entirely fitting that a scholarship be established in his name,” says Prof. Brunkhorst.


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