By Maroon & White |
This September, Saint Mary’s welcomed new and returning students, from around the corner and around the globe, eager to learn, searching for meaning, and keen to give back to the wider community and world. We gathered together in our Santamarian ceremony to witness our shared commitment to discovery and innovation, academic integrity, and intercultural learning. I took this opportunity to speak about the challenges to many of the principles that have conditioned the modern university: principles of academic freedom and responsibility, open inquiry, diversity of opinion, and international exchange of people and ideas.
What is our response at Saint Mary’s to rhetoric about the building of walls, the closing of borders to people and ideas, rising trade protectionism, and xenophobic attacks on diversity? As a university committed to being the university of choice for aspiring citizens of the world, there is no other response than to work harder to break down barriers, to enhance the movement of people and ideas, to be a venue for open debate, and to celebrate intercultural learning.
Our quest for intercultural learning – a key theme of our new strategic plan – includes training programs for staff, as well as a commitment to the diversity of students from over 100 countries. We have recently introduced Canada’s first Arts ‘two plus two’ degree (with long time partner, Beijing Normal University, Zhuhai, in China) and have launched a new partnership with the Killam Fellowship program of the Canada-United States Fulbright program.
Saint Mary’s also continues to offer access to a university education for all who are academically able. New investments in scholarships and bursaries (including those supported by generous alumni) mean that more funds are available to assist students in financial need.
This is how your university is responding to the challenges of 2017. I am proud that we are taking a stand in support of the principles of learning and Santamarian values. I hope that as an alumnus, you too are proud of our approach. Together, in 2017, we assert and celebrate the importance of ‘One University, One World, Yours’. Thank you for all you do for Saint Mary’s University.
President and Vice-Chancellor, Saint Mary’s University
Saint Mary’s University is in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the original Mi’kmaq People. We are all treaty people.