Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

President Bill Clinton -- the newest member of the Xaverian Family

October 3rd, 2017
Bill Clinton hon doc at StFX podium toronto

Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States, is now a member of the St. Francis Xavier family, after accepting an honorary doctorate Tuesday evening in a special convocation ceremony in Toronto.

“I love this country,” the former President, draped in blue and white graduation robes, declared in his convocation address. He received a standing ovation from the 600 guests attending the ceremony and dinner.
StFX President Kent MacDonald and Chancellor Dr. Susan Crocker conferred the degree on Mr. Clinton. The citation reads in part:
“Committed to human rights, justice, and peace, President Clinton is recognized as one of the most distinguished world leaders. Described as a ‘political mastermind,’ President Clinton is also a person of ‘magnificent energy and creativity,’ and known for his eloquence, compassion and charm.

“In 2001, President Clinton established the William J. Clinton Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to ‘strengthen the capacity of people in the United States and throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence.’ … Since that time, President Clinton has tirelessly promoted the cause of peace and global health and wellbeing, speaking regularly on issues ranging from climate change to health in the developing world.”

In his address, Mr. Clinton noted that he is the only American President to have visited Canada five times when he was in office. He served from 1992 to 2000. Since then he has visited Canada nearly 50 times.
One of those visits was to Antigonish in 2011 when he helped StFX alumnus Frank McKenna ’70, the former Canadian Ambassador to Washington and former New Brunswick Premier, open the Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership. 

“I also want to say a special word of thanks to Frank McKenna,” said Mr. Clinton. “I was there in 2011 to help dedicate the leadership centre then and I am inspired tonight by what you are doing. Frank always says StFX is a university that punches above its weight.”
In his convocation address, Mr. Clinton spoke passionately about the state of global politics, arguing that people don’t take the time to reach out, and to really see each other.
He called this the “culture of encounter” – and asked people to choose between that and the “culture of resentment” that he says is dominating politics these days.
Still, Mr. Clinton is optimistic for the future. “This is a great time to be alive,” he said. “But whether we meet the challenge … depends on how we think and I recommend the culture of encounter.”

Later, Mr. Clinton participated in a “fireside chat” with Mr. McKenna. Mr. McKenna pulled no punches in his questions, asking about everything from the dangers posed by North Korea to gun control in the wake of the tragedy in Las Vegas, and trade between the two countries. As Mr. Clinton was about to leave the stage, Mr. McKenna told him that he wanted him to convey to his wife, Hillary Clinton, that “a lot of people in this room and a lot of people in this country thank her for her service and think she would have been one hell of a president.”
This was an evening devoted to the issue of leadership, and attracted leaders from business, academia, politics, and the arts, such as businessman and philanthropist Ron Joyce, former Ontario premiers David Peterson and Mike Harris, and there was even Hollywood stars —  Maggie Q, from Designated Survivor, a show about a fictional American president.
StFX President MacDonald talked about the uniqueness of the university, saying while other institutions are trying to increase enrolment, “we are doing everything that we possibly can to remain small. We think that has something to do with the type of leaders that we produce at StFX,” said Dr. MacDonald. “The leadership StFX provides is more than learning to lead by reading a book or taking a class,” said Dr. MacDonald. “You need to have the opportunity to grow and fall down and scratch your knees once in a while,” he said.”
For Emily Gale, a recent graduate of StFX and a Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership ambassador, there is not one way to be a leader.
She told the audience that when she arrived at StFX, she didn’t call herself a leader because she thought that title was reserved for “people more important than me.” She soon learned, however, that leadership is about much more. “Being a leader means taking initiative, listening to others, and finding ways to make your community a better place,” she said. “Being a leader in this way means sharing your passion and helping others uncover theirs.”

Mike Boyd, Chair of the StFX Board of Governors, closed out the evening by giving special thanks to the evening's sponsors. The evening was presented by Agnico Eagle, in association with Onex and Ellis Don, and supported by Scotiabank, TD Bank and Sodexo. 

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