Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

StFX graduates over 900, Dr. Teresa MacNeil and Lino A. Saputo, Jr. receive honorary degrees

May 6th, 2018
2018 StFX Spring Convocation was a day of achievement, celebration and accomplishment

On Sunday, May 6, StFX celebrated the Class of 2018 as it welcomed over 900 newly minted graduates into the Xaverian alumni family on a day marked by cheers, tears, and advice for graduates to make a difference in the world, and to maybe make the world a little different.

Graduates came from every province in Canada and 17 countries around the world.

StFX also presented the degree Doctor of Laws honoris causa to Dr. Teresa MacNeil of Johnstown, Cape Breton, a StFX graduate and passionate leader in community development and life-long learning, and to Montreal-based entrepreneur and philanthropist Lino A. Saputo, Jr., 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 held at the Charles V. Keating Centre.


“Do the things you are afraid of,” Dr. MacNeil told graduates during the morning ceremony in an address that focused on two themes—courage and lifelong learning.

Dr. Teresa MacNeil (centre) pictured with StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald (left) and Chancellor Dr. Susan Crocker

Courage is the fundamental trait that allows us to develop as human beings, and it takes courage to plunge into your endeavours, she said.

“The greatest mistake you can make in your life is to be afraid you’ll make a mistake,” Dr. MacNeil said. “So be daring.”

Be active learners, Dr. MacNeil encouraged. Take a deliberate approach to continuous learning. We are living through a time of enormous explosion of knowledge, she said.

“The most valuable asset you have learned is how to learn whatever you need, wherever you are, for the rest of your life.”

This university has given you, and continues to give the world, deliberate attention to adult education, she said, where the goal is to foster individual, social and economic change, to enable learners to see what they are up against and be able to do something about it.

Dr. MacNeil also made time to say thank you. “An honorary degree from my alma master, employment for 37 years, and then to address you, it is indeed a privilege. Thank you for this definite honour,” she said as she congratulated all the graduates.


Dr. Lino A. Saputo, Jr. (centre) with StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald (left) and Chancellor Dr. Susan Crocker 

“Thank you for awarding me this honorary degree,” Dr. Saputo said during his address in the afternoon ceremony. “I feel privileged to share this special day with you,” he told graduates. And he said he is ecstatic to receive the honour during the same ceremony in which son Giordano graduates. We really do feel part of the StFX family, he said.

Today is an important milestone, Dr. Saputo told graduates. Wherever your experience began and wherever you go, you all share something in common, he said—the sense of community that StFX builds.

Dr. Saputo told the Class of 2018 about how he wanted to be an X-Men nearly 30 years ago. But when considering universities he met a girl—who later became his wife Amelia—and decided to go to university at Concordia.

It was a good decision, he told graduates, as finding the right partner is one of the most critical decisions you make in life. The other is what we do in our career.

“It should be something you feel passionate about, and more importantly, something that taps into your curiosity,” he advised. “When you find the career that’s right for you, you’ll know it. When it’s time to change careers, you’ll know it.”

Dr. Saputo says when you find these two things, the right partner and the right career, it makes it easier to fulfill a third key part of a truly balanced life, helping your community.

We all want to make our community better, and there are many ways to do this, he said. And not all are financial. Volunteer a few hours, coach a sport team and follow your passion to right an injustice, he told graduates. “My conviction is we don’t live on this earth alone. It means so much to us to be able to give back.”

Over the past four years, he says he and his family have come to feel part of StFX and the Antigonish community and are proud of their son Giordano for the way he’s become a part of this community. “This is a wonderful part of Canada, made even better by the contributions of everyone associated with StFX.”

After 30 years, he says he’s finally and proudly now able to wear an X-Ring.


StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald welcomed all to convocation and thanked family, friends, faculty and staff for their many contributions leading to this day.

“We are here for one reason and that is acknowledge some incredible students,” he said as he feted the Class of 2018.

“Think about contributing positively to the world,” he advised graduates, telling them they have many choices as they enter the world: the choice to be kind, to be optimistic, to forgive, to be humble, to respect everyone around them, to serve others, to be generous and to show gratitude.

“You have a great future ahead of you.”

Dr. MacDonald also took time to recognize StFX Chancellor Dr. Susan Crocker, the university’s first lay chancellor and the first female chancellor, who soon concludes her term, noting she served this institution with dignity, grace and generosity.

In her remarks, Dr. Crocker said she is honoured to open and preside over Spring Convocation 2018. “This day of recognition and celebration is the day you've worked to reach,” she told graduates.

“While we all came to StFX for different reasons and have incredibly unique journeys, we leave this beautiful campus with a shared gift,” said 2018 grad and senior class speaker Cameron Sehl.

Your StFX experience is like a lighthouse, he said, your ethos, your internal set of values that will steer you through the rocky waters of life. “It’s the sense of community you developed being part of something bigger than yourself…Count on the lights of our StFX experiences to guide us on the next steps of the journey.”

Senior class speaker Alex Corrigan, who spoke during the morning convocation, told classmates that today, with parchment in hand, they begin an entirely new journey. That transition is scary and uncertain, but also liberating and incredibly exciting. Pursue your dreams and keep believing in yourself, he encouraged classmates. “No matter where you are, you can always reach out to classmates and fellow StFX alumni. We may be leaving StFX, but StFX is not leaving us.”

StFX Alumni Association president Glenn Horne asked graduates to remember the Alumni Association is always there to support them. He also left graduates with three suggestions: push your boundaries, give back, work hard and have fun. Life is to be enjoyed, not enduring.

“This is a special day, celebrating significant accomplishment. On behalf of all alumni, congratulations,” he said.


Major honours presented during the ceremony included the designation of professor emeritus upon retired StFX history professor Dr. Paul Phillips. Philosophy professor Dr. William Sweet received the University Research Award, and the Outstanding Faculty Teaching Awards were awarded to psychology professor Dr. Erin Austen and to development studies professor and Canada Research Chair Dr. Jonathan Langdon. Patricia Budicky, senior lab instructor in the Department of Chemistry, received the Outstanding Staff Teaching Award.

Class of 2018 university medallists:


These medals are awarded to the student with the highest average in the final three years of an honours, advanced major or major degree program or the final two years of a diploma or education degree program.

Bachelor of Science to: Matthew Thomas Martell, Bedford, NS

Bachelor of Science in Nursing to: Alyssa Mariah Guitard, Riverview, NB

Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition to: Aiyu Liu, Beijing, China

Bachelor of Arts/Science in Human Kinetics to: Amy Elaine Bobyn, Calgary, AB

Diploma in Engineering to: Megan Elizabeth Hawkins Fudge, St. George, NB

Bachelor of Education to: Renelle Ariel John, Trinidad and Tobago

Bachelor of Arts to: Jamie Julia Forsyth, Truro, NS

Bachelor of Music/Bachelor of Arts in Music to: Cassandra Lynn Mann, New Glasgow, NS


The following medals are awarded to the students with the highest average in the final three years of a Bachelor of Business Administration or Bachelor of Information Systems program.

The ONEX Corporation Gold Medal Bachelor of Business Administration John Michael Jordan MacDonald, O’Leary, PE


The Governor General Undergraduate Medal for the highest average in the final three years of study to: Matthew Thomas Martell, Bedford, NS

The Governor General Graduate Medal for the highest overall average in a thesis-based graduate program to: Stephanie Elaine MacIntyre, Antigonish, NS

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. 



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