Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

StFX President and Vice-Chancellor (Interim) Dr. Kevin Wamsley on the 2019-20 year

September 1st, 2019
Dr. Kevin Wamsley became StFX President and Vice-Chancellor (Interim) on August 1, 2019.

As the newly-appointed President of StFX (Interim), Dr. Kevin Wamsley is looking forward to continuing the momentum he’s helped build over the past five years as Academic Vice-President and Provost. Although that role includes the obligation to step into the presidential role when necessary, Dr. Wamsley notes that “it’s not in the front of your mind.”

And so, even as the Board of Governors conducts the search for the 19th President of StFX, Dr. Wamsley is not thinking of merely “keeping the ship afloat, but steering it” in accordance with the long-term planning that’s already in place. “We’re not making any hard turns” during this time, he says. “Now it’s just a matter of following through.”

A member of the senior leadership team for the past four years, Dr. Wamsley is poised to take the helm with the confidence of knowing his colleagues remain focused and dedicated to their collective vision for a sustainable, healthy, and leading university. The task, of course, is not without its unique challenges, but Dr. Wamsley’s oft-given advice to students, faculty, and staff is now echoing more clearly in his own ears: “It doesn’t matter how bad the problem is. There’s always someone on campus you can turn to … always, always, always.”

In his previous role, Dr. Wamsley was the caretaker of the academic portfolio – one (very significant) piece of the larger university puzzle. Now, at the helm of StFX, he is committed to ensuring that all of the pieces carefully slot together to maximize student success, ensure financial stability, and bolster an already-ambitious team of faculty and staff. He is a consummate listener who actively solicits the ideas and opinions of others – a skill born from regular family dinners at home in Ontario. Dr. Wamsley and his four older sisters spent hours with their parents around the kitchen table during the tumult of the 1960s and early 1970s, discussing everything from gender and class politics to social inequities.

Dr. Wamsley is particularly eager to direct and observe the infrastructural and academic impact that the Mulroney Institute of Government will have on StFX. The new classrooms, student spaces, faculty offices, the new Teaching and Learning Centre, and cultural exhibits in Mulroney Hall represent nearly two years of regular planning meetings; Dr. Wamsley is keen to witness the myriad ways in which the physical space will transform teaching and learning opportunities at StFX. The Mulroney Institute of Government represents the key mandates Dr. Wamsley held as Academic Vice-President: to improve core programs, and create new ones that best serve the needs of a changing population. Now, as Interim President, he will continue to pursue academic opportunities that will bear fruit for current and future students.

A graduate of both Western University and the University of Alberta, Dr. Wamsley has had an academic career hallmarked by energetic and innovative contributions to community life, and by tireless work with and for his students. A student-athlete himself, his research interests have long focused on areas such as gender and sport, violence in sport, and the history of the Olympic Games. Widely regarded as an expert in his field, he’s often asked to provide comment on such topics as the complexities of hosting the Olympics in China. He also contributes substantively to the North American Society for Sport History, serving numerous roles and publishing important research. 

Here in Antigonish, Dr. Wamsley is an active member of the community – and is eager to spend much of the coming year continuing to explore StFX’s relationship with Antigonish and its surrounding communities. In particular, he is committed to ensuring that StFX is a welcoming and inclusive university for all students, particularly those for whom a university education might have previously been beyond reach. And, he’s excited to be part of an ongoing collaboration among the Town and County of Antigonish and the community of Paq’tnkek, working towards several key climate change and sustainability initiatives.

With Dr. Wamsley at the helm and with a dedicated team of faculty and staff at his side, StFX will assuredly continue to grow and thrive, through this academic year and beyond.

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