Speech: Remarks at Sobey Gift Announcement (March 21, 2019)

I am overwhelmed and inspired by this transformational gift, which will accelerate a deep and profound change in the teaching, research, and practice of business education at the University – in this province – and in Canada.  

It is truly impossible to express with words the impact that your reinvestment in the School that bears your name will have.   

So…I’d like to do something a bit different. Could all students, faculty members, and alumni from the Sobey School of Business please stand up – and remain standing. 

All of you standing today represent Sobey’s philanthropic legacy and impact at Saint Mary’s, and their multi-generational commitment to helping students and businesses succeed. Each and every one of you also represent the strength, experience, and vitality of the Sobey School, which inspired this investment.  

And the excellence and strength that we are so proud of and work so hard for is protected for future generations with this new tremendous gift from the family that knows us best. We are so fortunate.  

Please everyone join me in a round of applause to thank the Sobey family and Sobeys for their extraordinary philanthropic leadership, which is truly game-changing for Saint Mary’s University.  

I would also like to express our gratitude for the trust, confidence, and commitment that the Sobey family has shown Saint Mary’s for more than 40 years. Thank you to David and Faye, and to Paul and Janis for your leadership and personal generosity. Thank you Michael and thank you Frank for your vision and support.   

And thank you to every member of the Sobey family who has entrusted us with part of their family legacy. We are deeply humbled and sincerely grateful.  

For more than 40 years, you have entrusted us with your time, talent, and treasure as past chancellors, board members, campaign volunteer leaders, advisory committee members, alumni council members, and also as an employer of our students and alumni. Your philanthropy and leadership knows no bounds. 

This is a monumental occasion in the history of Saint Mary’s University. The Sobey School of Business is one of the oldest faculties of commerce in this country - and we have always taken our responsibility seriously for setting the standard for Canadian business education, every year and every day.  

And now, the visionary leadership of the Sobey family, and this extraordinary investment of 18 million dollars, will help the Sobey School of Business sustain its place as the business school of the future, now. The future is here. 

This gift is unprecedented – not only is it the largest gift in Saint Mary’s history, it is one of the largest philanthropic investments made in higher education in all of Atlantic Canada. And it places the Sobey School of Business within a very small and prestigious list of business schools in Canada to receive this level of philanthropic investment.  

The Sobey family, the company, and Saint Mary’s share a vision. A vision that focuses on people, impact, and purpose.  

We also share a strong commitment to fostering business potential and investing in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. That is why this gift is so important. The future is now

This investment will transform business education in the ‘Saint Mary’s way’ – interdisciplinary in nature and with the needs of our community at the heart of what we do.  

This impactful and generous gift will make profound contributions to entrepreneurship & innovation, student scholarships & experience, and faculty talent & research in the Sobey School of Business.  

This will be accomplished through a prestigious new Sobey Innovators Scholarship Program. This program will support 150 students over the next ten years. Attracting the best and brightest, the hardest working, the most entrepreneurial, and the most fearless business students in this country – to Saint Mary’s University and our Sobey School of Business.  

They will walk our halls, work in our classrooms and labs, compete and win under our banner. And they will succeed and lead when they leave us with the proud distinction of being Sobey School of Business and Saint Mary’s University alumni. 

In order to help us to continue to attract, engage and keep the highest-quality faculty and researchers, this investment includes a robust and thoughtful faculty talent program of 2 endowed chairs, 5  professorships – one in every department over 10 years – and 2 new post-doctoral fellows.  

The investment will also contribute to funding an expansion to the Sobey School of Business building with a 43,000 square foot addition dedicated to entrepreneurship and research innovation.  

This new space, also supported through an $11 million investment from the Province of Nova Scotia, will include an expanded Saint Mary’s University Entrepreneurship Centre, a Research Innovation floor – and the tools, people, and resources to develop and test new products and ideas.  

The new Sobeys Entrepreneurship & Innovation Hub, named in recognition of Sobeys corporate support, will invite students and faculty from across all disciplines – and businesses and entrepreneurs from this province to dive into entrepreneurship and business innovation together – the very best model for teaching, learning, and doing. 

It is difficult for me to summarize the tremendous impact that this gift will have in just a few words. However, mark my words, today’s announcement will take this university and the Sobey School of Business to another level of excellence.    

I would also like to share a greeting from my predecessor Dr. Colin Dodds. He could not be here today in person but did pass on his congratulations for this exciting announcement and the confidence it confirms in the future of the Sobey School of Business.  

Again, thank you to David and the entire Sobey family and Sobeys Incorporated on behalf of all students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends, and partners of Saint Mary’s. We are grateful for your visionary leadership, commitment to student success, and continued support.