Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

StFX receives $35 million government investment for Xaverian Commons

April 28th, 2017
L-r, StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald; the Hon. Randy Delorey, MLA for Antigonish and Nova Scotia Minister of Finance and the Treasury Board and Minister of Gaelic Affairs; Central Nova MP, the Hon. Sean Fraser; StFX Academic Vice-President and Provost Dr. Kevin Wamsley; and StFX Dean of Arts Dr. Karen Brebner

A nearly $30 million federal investment, combined with $5 million previously committed by the Province of Nova Scotia, has given a green light for the single most transformative project in StFX’s history, the Xaverian Commons.

StFX celebrated the monumental news April 28 at an announcement event in the Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership.

“This is a remarkable announcement,” StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald said on the combined $35 million investment that will help StFX create an academic hub on upper campus through the Xaverian Commons project, bringing together once disparate disciplines in a coherent and connected way.

“This is a visionary investment in Canada’s next generation of leaders and thinkers. First and foremost, this is an investment in the academic mission of St. Francis Xavier University,” said Dr. Kevin Wamsley, StFX Academic Vice-President and Provost.

Dr. MacDonald applauded and gave thanks to many people involved in the project during his address, and in particular to the Hon. Sean Fraser, Member of Parliament for Central Nova, for his confidence and persistent support of the project of regional and national significance, as well as to the Hon. Randy Delorey, MLA for Antigonish and Nova Scotia Minister of Finance and the Treasury Board and Minister of Gaelic Affairs, for his support and vision.

Dr. MacDonald also singled out Joe MacDonald, StFX’s Executive Director, Government Relations and Strategic Initiatives, for his tireless work on the project.


The $29.9 million federal funding is in support of the Xaverian Commons, a $90 million threefold project that will see StFX construct two strategically-aligned teaching, research and learning centres, and refurbish a third.

This includes construction of the already announced Mulroney Hall and the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government; refurbishing Nicholson Tower; and construction of a new academic building for a total infrastructure investment of $90 million.

Dr. MacDonald noted that StFX will not take on any debt on this project. The monies for the project will be secured through alumni and friends of StFX. 

“Today is an absolutely terrific day,” Mr. Fraser said in making the announcement to a standing ovation from the large crowd on hand as he highlighted the impact this transformative project will have not only on the university, but also the region.

“The Government of Canada understands that research and innovation are essential to a competitive, thriving economy, as well as to developing the knowledge and tools required to build sustainable communities,” he said on behalf of the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.

“With the funding announced today for St. Francis Xavier University, residents will have greater access to facilities that encourage innovation and promote cultural development, while meeting the needs of Canadians for generations to come.”

Mr. Delorey echoed similar sentiments.

“These centres will benefit students, the university, and the entire local community,” he said on behalf of the Honourable Kelly Regan, Minister of Labour and Advanced Education. “They will build on St. Francis Xavier University’s excellent reputation for teaching and research, and provide modern spaces where students, faculty and others can collaborate, innovate and advance Nova Scotia’s innovation and research priorities.”

Dr. Kent MacDonald speaking at the announcement


The project will set in motion a number of opportunities including the ability to reimagine academic space.

“Our professors and staff will work in newly-created spaces – professor-designed classrooms, new teaching labs, new research labs, new informal learning spaces, gathering areas, studios, new offices – in a word, it is remarkable,” Dr. Wamsley said.   

StFX will align academic research and learning spaces to provide professors of varying disciplines with the opportunity to teach in interdisciplinary programs and to conduct research with fewer intellectual or infrastructural barriers, he said.

Students gain increased access to faculty members for the personal mentorship that StFX uniquely offers, and it gives StFX the chance to green its buildings, enhance campus accessibility, and plan financially for the university’s future.


“These spaces will serve our students well,” he says.

Mulroney Hall will house state-of-the-art classrooms, co-located departments and programs, research chairs, and the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government, which features the new undergraduate program in public policy and governance. It will also feature a performance auditorium, informal student learning spaces, and a new Learning Centre for Teaching and Research.

The Nicholson Tower refurbishment will blend the building’s exterior with Mulroney Hall, and provide needed upgrades to elevators, offices, and common spaces.

The third component of Xaverian Commons is a new academic building. This building will centralize and consolidate StFX’s widespread focus on teaching and research in health and house the Centre for Innovation in Health, where interdisciplinary cooperation and innovation will see professors contributing to an interfaculty undergraduate program, the Bachelor of Arts and Science in Health, the first of its kind in Canada. 

As part of the Xaverian Commons project, the campus community will gather in the coming months to collectively imagine an accessible, pedestrian-centred campus with intentionally-designed green spaces.

Dean of Arts Dr. Karen Brebner was emcee for the event. 


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