To Members of the Xaverian Community


StFX president Kent MacDonald announces that he will leave position after five-year term

StFX is a place I consider home. My parents walked this campus in the 1950s. I met my wife, Mary-Ellen, here in the 1980s, and all four of our children have had the privilege of attending StFX over the past decade. In 2014, then Board Chair, Mr. Mark Wallace and the Board of Governors offered me a five-year contract, and the honour of returning to my alma mater as its 18th president, something I can only define as my dream job.

Over the past five years, I have been fortunate to work alongside many committed colleagues while serving an incredibly dedicated volunteer Board of Governors. Together, we have significantly advanced the academic mission of this wonderful institution in a relatively short period of time. I am very proud to have been president during a time when we launched new and exciting academic programs -- the lifeblood of any educational institution -- and have raised millions of dollars to help underwrite critical university priorities.

There have been many personal highlights during my time as president; too many to mention all of them. I will forever carry with me the experience of witnessing the first cohort of students to receive scholarships and bursaries from the Jeannine Deveau Educational Equity Endowment Fund. I was honoured to have helped our nursing faculty and staff move into the Elizabeth and Tom Rankin School of Nursing, and to work closely with donors and our student union to begin the creation of the Amelia and Lino Saputo Centre for Healthy Living for the benefit of our community. The opportunity to host our President’s Colloquium series in our residences opened our eyes to new opportunities to extend the academic experience into our residences, making them more than just places to sleep. Perhaps most importantly, after years of effort, we were able to secure a multi-million annual increase to our operating budget from the Province of Nova Scotia. This annual increase in funding is equivalent to a $100 million endowment, and has allowed us to balance our budget for the first time in many years. StFX is now on solid footing as it moves closer to its 175th anniversary.

However, my proudest achievement during my time at StFX was the creation of the Xaverian Fund, a $50 million endowment for StFX student scholarships and bursaries. Five years ago, that goal was unimaginable. Yet we dared ourselves to dream big. Today, we have almost achieved our goal. Many have given in support of our students, yet I hope more will continue to do so; access to StFX’s quality education and outstanding learning environment changes lives and communities.

The best news is that these milestones are just the beginning. The $110 million Xaverian Commons project is well underway. This project is the result of many generous donors and to each of them, I say thank you for supporting St. Francis Xavier University. This fall, the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government and Mulroney Hall will officially open on campus, offering new classrooms, labs, offices and gathering places for our community. I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to publicly thank the Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney ’59, for all of his contributions to this project – a magnificent addition to the post-secondary landscape in Canada, and a differentiator for StFX. The Xaverian Community will be forever grateful to Prime Minister Mulroney and his family. With all of these successes, over the past several months I have taken the time to reflect upon what it would mean if I were to commit to another multi-year term to serve our university. As many of you know, my area of research interest is presidential leadership. In this regard, I know how critical it is for a university president to be aware of when the time has come to pass the torch to the next leader. To that end, after many conversations with Mary-Ellen over the past several months, and many nights of deep personal reflection, I have concluded that this is exactly the right time for someone else to step forward and lead our university. Earlier this month I informed StFX Board of Governors Chair, Mike Boyd, that now is the right time for a new leader for our beloved university. This was perhaps the most difficult decision I have ever made, yet I believe it is the correct one to help propel St. Francis Xavier University into the next phase of growth. While we have collectively accomplished much over five years, I believe it is now time for a new president to build on our momentum, bringing innovation and fresh perspectives to the discussions. It has been an honour to serve the Board of Governors, the students, staff and faculty of my alma mater. I want to thank all members of the Xaverian community for your kindness and support over the past five years. I am grateful to the members of the university executive, president’s council and leadership council. It was never lost on me that you are the ones who continue to lead the university forward. I could not have worked with a more professional and competent group of colleagues. To the faculty who proudly support StFX and who put the university first in all they do, I offer a most sincere thanks. Throughout my time at StFX I have continuously shared many stories of your deep commitment to our students and to your professional practice. I have always admired how you are able to remain active researchers, ensuring our students learn new knowledge and perspectives, while balancing busy teaching and service schedules. To our incredibly dedicated staff, I am humbled by your commitment to our students. Your dedication to the Xaverian experience is simply unmatched. In the years ahead, I will think back fondly of your continuous efforts to go beyond the call of duty in support of our students. You are the bedrock of the university and I admire you greatly.

To our students, you are an incredible lot. You are academically-focused and sociallyengaged; exactly what I believe society needs in a university graduate. As our current students, you represent the same values of the thousands who have come before you, in that you think beyond yourselves and look outward on our community. Over my time at StFX, I have witnessed your commitment to making a difference in the world. I welcomed the opportunity to shake your hand on your first day on campus. To the graduating class, I look forward to shaking it once more at graduation and welcoming you into the alumni family. Speaking of alumni, I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to meet thousands of you during my time at StFX. As I leave the presidency, I am reminded that StFX relies on all of us to attract the best students and to help provide resources to the university to support our faculty and staff. Please continue to give back to the university whether it be your time, talent or treasure. I am forever grateful for the unwavering support and wise counsel of the Hon. Frank McKenna, ‘70 and also, of our Chancellor, John Peacock ‘63. I will miss working closely with John and his wife Adrienne ‘63, yet I know the university is in wonderful hands under his leadership and generosity. StFX is a historic and humble university. Its foundation was built by the priests and nuns who led us in our early days. Over the years, those dedicated individuals were joined by lay faculty and staff who continued to reflect the 2000-year-old Catholic intellectual tradition in the classroom, across the campus and through the community. Today, StFX is a modern university that continues to instill the same values as those who have come before us; a belief in the value of the liberal arts tradition, a commitment to inclusion, service to others and the development of reflective, discerning students. I want to recognize Bishop Brian Dunn, Vicar of the Founder, and thank him for his commitment to support StFX in a time of tremendous change. Finally, I wish to specifically thank our current Board Chair, my friend and colleague, Mr. Mike Boyd ‘85. Mike is one of the country’s most respected financial leaders. His leadership and guidance have provided a tremendous resource to me during my tenure and his counsel over the past several weeks are deeply appreciated. I have made this decision to leave StFX as president with a sense of pride, knowing I have done my very best to serve my alma mater to the best of my abilities. I look forward to exploring new challenges in the future, but for now there is much work to finish before my departure this summer. Today, my message is a simple one. I want to say thank you to the entire Xaverian community. 

Hail and Health, 

Kent MacDonald ‘86 President and Vice Chancellor


Mount Everest Base Camp Expedition


Alumnus of ‘94 is raising scholarship funds for African students

Joseph Odhiambo is a StFX alumnus who is a former Senior Class President and member of 1993 StFX University Basketball team that won a national championship was    inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008. Odhiambo also led efforts to fund and nominate Agnes McLennan as the first honorary recipient of an X-ring, based on their meeting during summer classes at StFX when McLennan returned to complete her studies in her late 60s.

Odhiambo will lead an expedition to the Mount Everest Base Camp Expedition to raise awareness and $5 000 in scholarship funds for secondary and post-secondary students in the Mathere slum of Nairobi, Kenya through the Canada-Mathare Education Trust (CMETrust), a registered Canadian charity.

Mathare is one of the largest slums in Africa and residents lack access to basic necessities such as water, electricity, roads, and waste disposal. Unemployment and precarious employment is common, with the result that most families struggle to meet their basic needs.

Education is a key step in addressing these challenges. However, in Kenya, education is not free after the primary level and many families cannot afford to send their children to secondary school due to high tuition fees and the cost of uniforms, textbooks, school supplies, and transportation.

CMETrust scholarships   cover the annual costs of secondary education and are renewed annually based on progress reports. In addition, CMETrust provides support to graduates who achieve high enough marks on their school leaving exams to obtain direct entry to a university in Kenya, helping them to pursue post-secondary studies.

Odhiambo was also born in Nairobi, and he has always been grateful for the opportunities that Canada provided for his family since immigrating in the 1970s. The purpose for this trip is to support, in some small way, Kenyan children and youth who are trying to build better lives under difficult     conditions.

The expedition is a hike at elevations ranging from 9 318 feet to a maximum of 18 192 feet. As a sub-objective, the expedition will is also to draw attention to the accumulation of waste and garbage that has built up on the trail leading to the base camp and summit by participating in efforts to remove the build-up of non-recyclable and recyclable products that has accumulated annually since the 1990s.

For additional information, please see:


Gregor Chisholm Interview


StFX alumni and current Blue Jays Reporter talks breaking into the industry and Bautista!

Bowen Assman interviewed Gregor Chisholm on October 11 2018. Gregor is a 2005 StFX HKIN alumnus, graduate of Ryerson University in journalism, and is currently entering into his ninth season as a Blue Jays reporter for

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BA: How’s it going? Are you on vacation now that the Blue Jays season is done?

GC: Yes, kind of, until the offseason, as they are searching for a new manager right now, so I am still doing some stuff, but for the most part, nothing really happens until the World Series is done. Then things will pick up, with trades and free agency. But, normally October is really slow if the team you are covering isn’t in the postseason. But it is a little bit busier this year because of the search for a new manager, but I get a couple weeks off to rest and recharge.

BA: So, you were originally a sports reporter for The Xaverian Weekly back in University, and you also worked with The U. Did you always see yourself working within sports?

GC: I did actually, I took a weird route to get there, but even when I went to school at StFX, I mean I grew up in St. John New Brunswick, so I kind of even knew when I was in grade two that I wanted to go into sports journalism, But I did not want to move to Toronto right away. I had some ties to Antigonish as my Dad was originally from there, and my grandparents lived there. I used to go to basketball games there as a kid, so I always kind of liked StFX. I figured that I would go and get my undergrad at StFX, and then eventually go to Ryerson, as it had a post-grad journalism program, so I figured that I would do it the postgrad route instead of straight out of high school. But yes, when I went to StFX, I kind of figured that I would be going to journalism school after StFX. That is why I got involved with The Xaverian Weekly for a couple years. I did  two years as a sports editor there, then did some freelance stuff in the Maritimes, and did the StFX student union stuff with The U for two years as well. VP communications one year, then I was president my last year.

BA: What kind of freelance did you do?

GC: One of the big ones I got was kind of really random. When I was a sports editor, I think I was in my second year, the World Junior Hockey Championships were actually in Halifax (2003). Randomly enough, Team Canada did part of its training camp at StFX.

BA: Wow!

GC: Ya, it was kind of crazy, the World Juniors were really big, but it was before they were only going to the NHL cities, so some of the smaller cities got it at that time, and Halifax got it that year, so the juniors did some of their training camp at StFX but it was during Christmas break, and all of the students were gone, I was gone too. But, randomly, I figured there was a chance, because they did their training camp there, that I randomly applied for a media credential through The Xaverian Weekly, I put all my The Xaverian Weekly contact down for it and they approved my media pass, so I was able to get a media pass for the entire tournament. I went to Halifax on boxing day and I knew some people who lived there so I stayed with them, for ten days, or however long the tournament was. But through the tournament was where I was able to do some freelance stuff. I’m from New Brunswick, so I was able to sell some stores to the Telegraph Journal in New Brunswick. The stories were random, as they had a linesman who was in the tournament who was from just outside of St. John so I did a story on him. There was a coach from UNB  who was involved in the tournament so I did a story on him and then I did a couple for local publications in Nova Scotia. So that’s how I started and through those contacts I occasionally, like when UNB came to play StFX, I would write a story for the Telegraph Journal, just like when the playoffs were going on for hockey and basketball, they would want stuff, so I did The Xaverian Weekly stuff, along with freelance stuff on the side.

BA: Would you say that was your ‘foot in the door’ moment?

GC: I think so, like with the World Juniors, I was more of a basketball and baseball guy then a hockey guy, but I was still a pretty big hockey fan too, but I guess that was kind of when I thought for sure, with what I decided what I wanted to do as I always kind of knew, but this was reassuring when I went to that (World Juniors) and just saw how everything worked. It was cool because you were in the same media room as all the big guys from TSN, like Bob Mckenzie, and everyone was beside you so it was cool to see that. I mostly observed because I didn’t have a ton of work to do, unlike some people who had daily assignments, I just had the freelance stuff so, a lot of it I used as an opportunity to see behind the scenes of how it all works. That freelance stuff might have played a bit of role in me getting into Ryerson in the first place, but The Xaverian Weekly stuff helped, The Students Union stuff helped, it was kind of all a part of the journey.

BA: Cool. It must have been awesome to see Bob McKenzie!

GC: Yes! It was! Actually, when I moved to Toronto and Ryerson, that was actually my first journalism job, at TSN. So it was cool, a few years after my first experience, I was working and  I had a low level job at the time and working in the ‘pit’ behind the bankers and SportsCentre, so it was cool to go from one extreme three years before it, to actually working for TSN.

BA: How important do you think it is to have alumni reaching levels, like you are, in the sports industry and how can it potentially impact future Xaverians?

GC: Yes, it is interesting. I think one of the cool things is that, well StFX is not known as a journalism school and there was not any journalism classes when I was there, so it was definitely a weird route to take for me to get to where I am, but it certainly goes to show that well, my time at StFX was four of the most fun years I have ever had as it was a lot of what I turned into and because of that school, my experiences with The Xaverian Weekly and the Students Union, and with StFX, you can do so many things hands-on, compared to a much bigger school or city, where you do not get the same opportunities. So, to get exposed to that early on and having so many responsibilities is a big reason. I have no regrets. It ended up costing me a bit more money to do the two-degree route, instead of going into it (journalism) right out of high school so I have no regrets at all. Even people who go to StFX for something that they aren’t exactly planning to do. Like I took Human Kinetics but I knew all along that I wasn’t going to do anything with that program, but the lifestyle and through experiencing so many different things at StFX, I learned more doing that kind of stuff and the journalism jobs after then I did at Ryerson. When anybody asks me where I went to school, I always say StFX. I never really mention Ryerson unless I am talking to a journalist who might know about their program. StFX is always the one that I refer back to.

BA: It is obviously tough, being in a small school, and not located near any professional sports teams, as you went to Ryerson to continue your education, but how tough was it for you to break into the industry?

GC: I did get some lucky breaks along the way. That is kind of how you have to do it to a certain extent. My resume from the StFX days really helped me get some of the opportunities because I did have a lot of experience at that point. Then, Ryerson played a role as initially I got in to TSN through an internship with the school, and then after my internship was over in three months that’s when they kept me on after that and I got hired by them. That was my first journalism job. This industry obviously, especially in the last number of years has taken a pretty big hit. It is even harder now than when I broke in. I broke in just before some of the walls started crashing down a little bit, in terms of job opportunities. For me, I always knew Toronto, for me I am a Maritimer and I always try to go back as much as I can but I always figured that Toronto would always be where I would end up. Because back home, obviously, unless you are covering the university sports or the Quebec Major Junior League (QMJHL) there is not many things to cover out there. Toronto were the teams I grew up watching and rooting for and I always figured that to do what I wanted to do would always have to be here (in Toronto). Especially because I was not much of a hockey guy as I wanted to do Raptors or Blue Jays. I didn’t really want to do Calgary Flames or something like that so that really narrowed it down kind of in terms of knowing where I would end up being. Toronto is where so many of those opportunities are, and it’s the mecca of Canada for all the sports.

BA: What was your most exciting moment during your years as a Blue Jays reporter?

GC: Well, you start looking at it a bit differently when you are a reporter for sure. I used to be a big Jays fan and I certainly would not describe myself as a fan anymore as you get to know things on a different level and see behind the curtain. You get to know all of the players and what they are really like as well as the front office and executives. You get to see that part of it and you view things differently, but even so I would still say the game in 2015 with Jose Bautista, the bat flip game (Game 5 ALDS) was still the most incredible thing that I have been around. I just finished my eighth season doing Jays full time and I did a couple seasons part time before that but that was by far the craziest event for sure. For one, to be there for the first playoff series since 1993 and the environment was pretty cool, but the events leading up to the home run was pretty incredible. Russell Martin threw a ball off of a player’s bat minutes before and there was chaos in the building and everyone was upset with the umpires, and for a while there I thought there was no way we were getting out of there without some sort of riot breaking out. Then five/ten minutes later it got even crazier when Bautista hit his home run. So, just this frantic style, game and atmosphere and just trying to come up with a game story and multiple articles after that was pretty crazy. There was even a moment in the press box where pretty much every reporter was trying to figure out what was going on. There was just so much confusion during that inning and people were throwing stuff on the field, it was crazy! So, just to be there for that was crazy, even though it does not really matter to me anymore whether or not the Jays win or lose, you like to see good baseball, but I don’t care certainly not as much as I did when I was a fan. So it wasn’t the winning part of it, it was the whole playoffs in general where you couldn’t beat that atmosphere.

BA: Do you have any other plans within the industry, or do you like where you are at right now?

GC: I don’t know! That is a big question to be honest with you. I got this opportunity a lot younger than most people do and I am pretty grateful for that it does make me think: What’s next? A lot of times when these guys get into these beat jobs where you are covering a team full time, and a lot of the ones I have worked beside have been doing it for 35 years. It can be that this is what they do for the rest of their life. On one hand I could see myself doing that as I still really enjoy it, but on the other hand, I don’t know if 15 years from now, or even 10, if I would want to do as much travelling as I do now. There might be something that comes after this but I don’t really know what it is, as to be honest with you my entire life leading up to Toronto has been trying to get a job like this, and I was twenty seven when I got hired by MLB, and I have been with them ever since so we will see how it plays out!


Alumni Empowerment


StFX alumni in politics gives students a voice

One thing that StFX is best known for is its involved and passionate alumni community. For students just starting out on their undergrad journey, the idea of being a Xaverian beyond four years may seem too far away to worry about. However, our alumni community has the potential to represent more than just returning to campus for homecoming. Among StFX's alumni stories are those who have found success in Canadian politics. Politicians have a unique power that many government positions do not – they have the opportunities to not only launch positive change, but also act as a mediator for the people who want to.

A great example of this is Sean Fraser. He is a Liberal member of parliament representing the riding of Central Nova, and also an X grad. Very active on social media, Fraser's twitter gives off an approachable atmosphere and showcases his involvement in Central Nova Scotian communities. What does this mean for you? It means that you have someone in the know. Like most StFX alumni, Fraser is proud to be a part of the circle. Of course, writing to any member of parliament if you have concerns or ideas is fine, but the chances of having your thoughts listened to are far greater if you have something in common with the MP. An MP with a StFX background might also be aware of any university or township issues before someone even asks them about it, which is another advantage.

Beyond using alumni power as a voice, there is also the way in which StFX alumni can inspire others to go forward with their own career decisions. StFX publishes an Alumni News magazine twice annually. For Summer 2018, included was an article about women who graduated from StFX and how the university encouraged and empowered them to achieve success in whatever they wanted to do. Liberal Nova Scotia MP Bernadette Jordan became the first woman to represent the South Shore-St. Margaret's riding, and she says that StFX, “ignited [her] passion for federal politics.” By sharing her story to other members of the Xaverian community, she has shown that she is not simply here to represent her undergrad. Her accomplishments inspire women in the community, whether they be politically-inclined or otherwise, to reach their goals.



Furthermore, political alumni have another big way to contribute to StFX; donations and buildings! Most recently, The Mulroney Institute of Government has been built due to Brian Mulroney's generous donations to the school. This is another major power that X alumni involved in politics, or another wealthy profession harbour. Because not only does it allow them to give back to their school community, but it also brings a sense of pride to StFX for having so many alumni success stories. Having alumni that are able to donate their money and influence to the school also gives current students a sense of belonging; maybe in the future, current students will be able to donate just like so many of those before them.

The phrase 'small but powerful' is something that resonates with this school. Despite our size (population-wise and geographically), Xaverians have made waves. Of course, everyone knows about our most well-known politician (probably ever), former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, but there are other politicians active in all tiers of Canada's government right now who are doing good work...and they are wearing X rings! Aforementioned MP Sean Fraser is once again a great example, given his recent tweets promoting the Help the Helpers conference, right here in Antigonish. So if you're ever feeling like you want to make a change in your community, utilizing alumni connections is a powerful way to do so.