Fall 2018

Editor: Renée Hartleib

Art Direction/design: Spectacle Group

Cover photo: Patrick Morrell

Contributors: Erin Elaine Casey, Allison Gerrard, Matthew Halliday, Renée Hartleib, Krista Keough, Joanie Veitch, and Kate Watson

ALUMNI DIRECTOR: Mary Ann Daye BComm’85

ALUMNI Officers: Chantal Caissie BA’13, Emily LeBlanc

Vice President, advancement: Erin Sargeant Greenwood

Advertising: (902) 420-5420

Alumni Council President: Scott McElman BComm’91

Alumni Council past President: Sarah Ferguson BComm’09

Vice-President: Collette Robert BSc’15

Secretary: Bafana Mashingaidze BSc’14 MBA’17

Alumni Council: Brenda Allen BA’96; Kelsey Baker BComm’15; Tariro Dheka BA’16; Jennifer Drillo BA’14; Sarah Ferguson BComm’09; Sylvia Gawad BSc’14; Elora Gehue BA’17; Blair Jones BSc’17; Fiona King BComm’93; Dongsheng Li BComm’15; Kathleen Lingley BA’05; Ralston MacDonnell DipENG’76; Bafana Mashingaidze BSc’14 MBA’17; Jennifer McClelland BA’10; Scott McElman BComm’91; Michael Mercer BA’10 MA’16; Jason Mullen BA’98; Tom O’Handley BComm’02 MBA’15; Collette Rober BSc’15; Karen Ross BComm’77; Dan Rudisuela BComm’07 MBA’08; Jennifer Schwartz BA’09; Wendy Sentner BComm’01; Kaitlyn Touesnard BComm’13

Alumni Representatives on the Board of Governors: Greg Dickie BComm’03 (external); Jennifer Liu BComm’12 (external); Scott McElman BComm’91; Karen Ross BComm’77; Dan Rudisuela BComm’07 MBA’08

Maroon & White is published for alumni and friends of Saint Mary’s University.

Circulation: 15,000

Please send address changes, suggestions, and snippets to: Saint Mary’s University Alumni Office.

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Featured Articles:

Booming Businesses Abroad

When Bangladeshi-born Salman Bin Rashid Shah Sayeem was living in Halifax and studying Accounting at Saint Mary’s, he couldn’t help but notice the different ways that Canadians could book travel. “In Bangladesh, we didn’t have any online ticketing options for air travel, but when I was in Canada I would hear things about Expedia and Cheapoair, and it really got me thinking.”


Creating Growth at Home

As a 14-year-old kid helping to run his family’s bed & breakfast in Cape Breton, Colin Gillis would have had a hard time imagining a future in 3D scanning. But that’s exactly where he is.

As co-owner of the fast-growing company Smarter Spaces, Gillis and his business partner, Dan MacIntosh, help companies, organizations, landlords, developers, and commercial brokers create detailed…

Building Vibrant Communities Saint Mary’s Grad Becomes Mayor of Home Town

As a young boy growing up in Chatham, New Brunswick, Adam Lordon’s mother instilled in him and his siblings the importance of giving back. As a city councilor and the first female Deputy Mayor of the City, Nancy Lordon was as well-known for her community service as she was for her involvement in politics.

She was an avid volunteer, championed initiatives to reduce poverty, supported…

New Dean at the Sobey School of Business

When Dr. Harjeet Bhabra received his first degree from the Indian Institute of Technology 35 years ago, he didn’t imagine he’d be leading a life in academia. Instead, he set out on a career in naval design engineering. However, when finance began to interest him, he applied to an MBA Program in Bangalore, which eventually led him to the University of Missouri, Columbia, and a PhD in Finance.


In It For The Long Ride

Gavin Giles is a successful litigation lawyer with more than 30 years of experience. He’s also raised more than $250,000 on the Multiple Sclerosis Bike Tour, and has received a distinguished service award for his commitment to the Canadian Red Cross Society, an organization he now heads up as their national chair.

Yet when asked what he’s most proud of, Giles fumbles for words. “I’m…

Blazing the Way for Women in Hockey

The year was 2015, and Cari Duggan had just scored an exciting new role with Canadian Blood Services as a lead negotiator. This was a dream job, one that the SMU grad had been building toward for years. But before she’d even settled into the new position, something happened that would change not only the course of Cari’s career, but her entire life.

Returning from a family trip to Florida…

A Passion For Education

The story of how Jillian Gibson came to be the Director of Philanthropy at Saint Mary’s University began last spring with two phone calls—one from her niece in the Bahamas, the other from a recruitment agency.

Her niece was calling about her university plans. It had long been understood that she would come and live with the Gibson family in St. John’s, Newfoundland where she would…

Celebrating 50 Years of Co-Education

It was September of 1968, and Frances Murdock (nee Kelly) was just about to turn seventeen. She was enrolled at Mount St. Vincent University and discovered that the textbooks for her Fall term courses were in short supply. She and a few friends set off for the Saint Mary’s Bookstore to see if the missing titles were available there.

“Little did we know, SMU had just announced it was…

Opening Doors and Making Connections

When Signa Butler BA’96 Hons ’98 and Paul Bromby BA’99 meet in the halls of the Canadian Broadcasting Centre in Toronto, it’s like a family reunion. “Whenever we run into each other in our building, it’s a huge smile, a big hug, some kind of dance move or something,” laughs Signa. “There’s a certain unspoken understanding east coasters have.”

CBC News Network sports…

Campus Notes:

Saint Mary’s Venture Grade Fund Invests in Trip Ninja

Saint Mary’s University’s Venture Grade Fund, a student-raised and led venture capital fund, is making its first investment – $15,000 to Trip Ninja, an innovative travel start-up. Trip Ninja is a travel-planning software for use by online travel retailers such as Expedia or Priceline. This multi-destination platform finds the best way to book a trip, whether travellers are flexible in their…

Business Development Centre Relaunches

A creative campaign featuring the business success of 12 alumni (such as Janet Chiang, BComm'05) and a venture showcase with 200 guests helped re-launch the Business Development Centre as the Saint Mary's University Entrepreneurship Centre last April. The new centre heralds an enhanced focus on entrepreneurial leadership. "We help thousands of businesses and graduates," says Michael Sanderson, Acting…

Square Roots Food Bundle Program Partners With Hellmann’s

The award-winning Square Roots food-bundle program is partnering with Hellmann’s to help combat food insecurity across Nova Scotia. “For two years in a row, the Square Roots bundle program has won the Hellmann’s Food Security Challenge, which opened the door to this partnership,” said Becca Watts, Square Roots bundle program manager. “We are proud to announce that all future bundles will…

Inuit Cultural Repatriation Award For Saint Mary’s Researcher

Saint Mary’s University researcher Dr. Val Marie Johnson’s collaborative work to repatriate copies of Inuit cultural and historical materials has being recognized with the 2018 Inuit Cultural Repatriation Award. The award, given by the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, recognizes individuals and organizations that have taken steps to repatriate Inuit intellectual…

Top 50 CEOs Within Saint Mary's University Community

The innovation, drive, and business leadership of several of our alumni were recently recognized by Atlantic Business Magazine. The following people received a Top 50 CEO Award: Joyce Carter, BComm’84; Stuart MacLean, EMBA’97; Darren Nantes, BComm’89; Carl Sparkes, MBA’87; and Saint Mary’s University President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray.

Mi’kmaq Grand Council Flag Permanently Installed At Saint Mary’s

The Mi’kmaq Grand Council flag now has a permanent home on the Saint Mary’s campus, alongside the Canadian and provincial flags that fly in front of the McNally Building. “To see our flag side-by-side with the Canadian and Nova Scotian flags, nation to nation, is very significant to us,” said Grand Chief Ron Knockwood, District Chief of the Mi’kmaq Grand Council, Sɨkɨpne’katik District.…

SMU Doctoral Student Wins In National Policy Challenge

Chris Walker, doctoral candidate in the International Development Studies Department at Saint Mary’s University, is one of 10 winners of a national foreign policy challenge. The Global Affairs Canada / SSHRC 2018 International Policy Ideas Challenge invites Canadian graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and researchers to propose solutions to emerging international policy challenges faced…

Creating New Coastal Habitat

As a result of a $1.8 million partnership between the Government of Canada and Saint Mary’s, a new project seeks to restore over 75 hectares of tidal wetland (i.e., salt marsh) habitat in our province. The project, led by Dr. Danicka van Proosdij, will guide the realignment and decommissioning of dyke infrastructure at multiple sites in the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia.

First Graduates From Unique, International Program

This past summer, the first cohort of a unique program based on an international partnership between Saint Mary’s University and Beijing Normal University-Zhuhai (BNUZ) walked across the stage to receive their degrees in China. The business students are the first to graduate from a program offered jointly by BNUZ and Saint Mary’s University. The successful partnership between the two institutions…

Saint Mary’s Hosts Ground-breaking Criminal Justice Conference

More than 200 scholars, corrections workers, and social-justice experts from Canada and beyond came together for a fruitful exchange of ideas on harm reduction in the criminal justice system at Saint Mary’s this past summer. This year marked the first in which the conference will begin visiting communities across Canada, and also the first in which it substantially moves to holistically addressing…

An Evening with John Ralston Saul

John Ralston Saul shared his insights into immigration and Atlantic Canada at Saint Mary’s University this past summer. Ralston Saul praised the centuries-long Canadian approach to welcoming newcomers, something he said is unique to this country and learned from Indigenous peoples. Ralston Saul noted that Canada now stands out among westernized nations for its pro-immigration policies and practices…

Saint Mary’s Professor Earns Esteemed Medal

Subatomic physicist, Dr. Rituparna Kanungo, leads cutting-edge research on understanding the mysteries of existence. Where do we come from? What are we, and most visible matter in our universe, made of? To answer these questions, Kanungo examines the core of all things, the nucleus. By using very precise methods of generating reactions, she can closely examine rare isotopes in our universe to unlock…

SMU Astronomer Wins Astronomy Award

“I simply love talking with people about science,” says Dr. Rob Thacker, Director of the Science Outreach Centre. An internationally recognized researcher, who is also an Astronomy and Physics professor, Dr. Thacker received the Canadian Astronomical Society’s 2018 Qilak Award in recognition of his outstanding outreach work. He shares his knowledge via dozens of public lectures and weekly…

Federal Funding for Saint Mary’s Biologists

Two Saint Mary’s biologists have received funding to investigate how environmental variation influences fish populations in Atlantic Canada. This research should help predict how fish will fare with continued changes in climate. Drs. Laura Weir and Anne Dalziel are using their $200,000 John R. Evans Leaders Fund award from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to develop a Fish Behaviour…

Letter from the President of Saint Mary’s University

Crisp autumn air signals the start of a new academic year. During Welcome Weeks, this year’s 1600 incoming students – and future alumni – were welcomed into our community and introduced to both academic opportunities and the many support systems on campus.

The Santamarian Ceremony, held in September, reinforces the values of Saint Mary’s: academic excellence, our intentional approach…

Letter from the President of the Alumni Association

This is my last letter to you as President of the Saint Mary’s Alumni Association. I’m not sure where those two years have gone, but it was a busy and rewarding experience to serve the loyal alumni of Saint Mary’s. Thank you for the honour.

In this issue, you will be introduced to alumni from all over, accomplishing amazing things. From former athletes who have gone on to successful…

Alumni News:


September 30 - October 4, 2020

Alumni Events

Past Alumni Event Photos


We are always pleased to hear about the diverse experiences and accomplishments of our alumni and to share these stories with you.

Class Notes

Find out what other alumni from our year are up to.

In Memoriam

Death notices and obituaries