Message from the President

The print version of this report won a  Prix d'Excellence  from the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education (CCAE).

The print version of this report won a Prix d'Excellence from the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education (CCAE).

There is a sense of momentum at Saint Mary's University. Our students, faculty and alumni continue to make us proud - answering questions, solving problems and engaging with our communities. Exciting new initiatives and projects continue to revitalize our campus, our work and our impact.

This review highlights just some of the accomplishments over the 2017-2018 academic year. The themes of discovery and innovation, global connectedness, entrepreneurship and community engagement not only reflect our strategic priorities, but our distinct way of being in the world as we work to change it for the better, in Nova Scotia and beyond.

Robert Summerby-Murray, Ph.D. President and Vice-Chancellor

Saint Mary’s University Board of Governors

Share this report


As leaders in research and innovation, we do more than transfer knowledge. We create it and share it to make the world a better place. Our faculty bring research to life for students with hands-on learning and strive to solve real-world challenges.

Faster results for patients

When Halifax-based company MedMira needed researchers to help develop faster methods of detecting disease, they were delighted to discover Dr. Christa Brosseau in their backyard. Brosseau is a Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Chemistry & Materials. She and her students – such as Ph.D. student Najwan Albarghouthi – are using nanotechnology to help MedMira advance its world-class rapid diagnostics platform to deliver faster test results to patients. Building on previous funding, the collaboration recently received Engage Plus funding from NSERC – a Saint Mary’s first.


The search for new antibiotics

Dr. Clarissa Sit hopes cage-fighting microbes will help combat a serious public health problem: antibiotic­ resistant bacteria and fungi. The chemistry professor and her team pit bacteria and fungi against each other with the goal of finding new molecules that could potentially lead to new medicines. Sit says that exposing microbes to something that looks like a threat will cause it to produce "chemical warheads", which could lead the way to new kinds of antibiotics.

Unravelling the secrets of the force

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 their secrets and gain insight on nature's strong nuclear force. Her outstanding work garnered the Canadian Association of Physicists-TRIUMF Vogt Medal in 2018.


Navigating a robot-filled future

Killer robots, sex robots, worker robots... the second machine age is here and Dr. Teresa Heffernan is exploring the implications for humankind. The English professor heads a five-year research project called "Where Science Meets Fiction: Social Robots and the Ethical Imagination." Heffernan's Cyborg Futures workshop drew international scholars to Halifax to discuss how robots and artificial intelligence are shaping the future of labour, war, the environment and human relationships. The workshop findings will soon be available as an edited collection (Palgrave MacMillan).

As national leaders in business education at our renowned Sobey School of Business, we mentor innovators and entrepreneurs in every discipline. All of our students develop entrepreneurial mindsets and embody a desire to create value in the world.


Saving the whales

Grad students Aaron Stevenson, Ross Arsenault BComm’17 and Maxwell Poole BComm'17 have developed a way to modernize crab and lobster fishing, track valuable data and keep right whales from getting tangled in fishing lines. Their Mobile Ocean-Based Instrument (MOBI) system retrofits traps with underwater buoys that are released by an electronic signal from the owner’s boat when it’s time to haul in the catch.

Stevenson and Arsenault are completing the Master of Technology Entrepreneurship and Innovation program in the Sobey School of Business, and Poole is pursuing a Master of Applied Health Services Research. They recently received $25,000 in funding as part of an accelerator program at the new Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship in Dartmouth.

Tackling food insecurity

Our students are using entrepreneurial skills to make social change. The award-winning Square Roots Token program pairs 12 local restaurants – including King of Donair and Basha Lebanese (pictured) – with student leaders to fight food insecurity. Launched in 2017, the program has sold 820 tokens which can be redeemed for meals made from surplus food.

Enactus students Valerie Caswell (4th year, Commerce) and Ciaro Moxey (4th year, Computer Science and Business Administration).

A winning venture

This student team bested Ivy League schools Yale, MIT and Dartmouth at the Venture Capital International Competition held in Boston this winter. The contest gives student teams an imaginary $100 million to invest in one of three pitching start­ ups. Saint Mary's won silver after a tie-breaking round with Rochester University.

The medalists (I-r): David Hatcher, Stephanie Fitzner, Findlay Hilchie BComm'12, team advisor Dr. Ellen Farrell (Sobey School of Business), Anindita Gupta MTEl'17 and Avinash Chandrapati MBA'18.


Entrepreneurship lives here

A creative campaign featuring the business success of 12 alumni (such as Ashley MacIntyre BComm'05, in picture) and a venture showcase with 200 guests helped launch the Saint Mary's University Entrepreneurship Centre in April. The new centre heralds an enhanced focus on entrepreneurial leadership. "We help thousands of businesses and graduates," says Michael Sanderson, Acting Director. "We're excited to mentor the next generation of innovators."


Recognizing retail innovation

This year, the David Sobey Centre for Innovation in Retailing and Services presented the first-ever Retail Innovation Awards. Three businesses from across Canada accepted awards during National Retail Week. The awards bring together cutting-edge businesses, our students and our researchers to celebrate innovation and inspire the next generation of retailers.

Pictured are winners (I-r): Zlatan Fazlagic and Mary Weimer (Hillberg and Berk), Kena Paranjape (Brika), Dr. David Sobey DComm'91 and Gordon Stevens BComm'93 (Uncommon Group).

In a world that is increasingly interconnected and complex, global perspective and empathy is key. Instilling these values is a part of our history and our present as we prepare the leaders of tomorrow.

Honouring Indigenous culture

Saint Mary’s first-ever Indigenous Gala was a fitting finale for a notable year of honouring Indigenous traditions on campus. Responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and our own university task force, Saint Mary’s implemented several initiatives, such as flying the Mi’kmaq flag on special occasions, offering a minor in Indigenous Studies and developing additional relevant curriculum, and welcoming Raymond Sewell MA’14 of Pabineau First Nation, NB as the university’s first full-time Indigenous Student Advisor.

10-year-old Brady Googoo (Millbrook First Nation) and Bert Milberg (Kjipuktuk) perform a traditional dance at Saint Mary’s first Indigenous Gala.


Telling the stories of the enslaved

Archaeology professor Aaron Taylor BA'09 MA'12 and nine students­ - including Morgan Reid (5th year, Criminology & Anthropology) - are unearthing lost history in Cuba. Working with local students and professors, the team is excavating artifacts at the Angerona Coffee Plantation, one of the largest slave plantations in the Americas. The dig is the first collaboration of its kind between Cuba and Canada. "Many who lived there did not know one day of freedom," says Taylor. "We want to tell their stories."

Pathways to peace

In February, 28 Arts, Science and Sobey School of Business students facilitated peace education workshops for more than 1000 children in Halifax and Belfast through our Northern Ireland Conflict Resolution Program. The program reflects our long-standing commitment to peace education, including a new minor in Peace and Conflict Studies. Students are transformed by their experiences, says Bridget Brownlow MA'12, Program Coordinator, Conflict Resolution Advisor and Professor in Political Science, Irish Studies and Education. "The program underscores the value of experiential and service learning - key priorities for Saint Mary's."

Global perspective at home and abroad

With close to a third of our students hailing from 118 countries, and more than 50,000 alumni in all corners of the world, it's no wonder Saint Mary's is recognized as one of Canada's leading international universities. We're proud of our vibrant community that brings diverse perspectives together. Our focus on cultivating intercultural understanding ensures that 100% of our graduates benefit from a global outlook.

Working with and for our community is at the heart of who we are at Saint Mary's. Whether on campus, in our local community or the global village, the desire to serve and make a positive impact beyond the university walls permeates all we do.

Helping those who serve and protect

Psychology professors Dr. Meg Ternes and Dr. Marc Patry hope their work will help local police better train recruits and improve interrogation procedures. In partnership with the Halifax Regional Police, they are bringing research evidence to bear on police procedures, such as the Fair and Impartial Policing training program. Work will start soon on a new project that examines police and suspect behaviour during interrogations. Both professors helped bring in the new Masters of Science in Applied Psychology (Forensic Psychology).

Using data for good

Saint Mary's and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) joined forces to combat poverty at the #DataforGood hackathon held on campus in May 2018. Looking for innovative ways to improve service to low-income Canadians, ESDC turned to our Master of Science in Computing & Data Analytics, inviting students to introduce the idea of a hackathon to ministers at the National Poverty Conference in Ottawa. Top team innovations addressed barriers to access, including wait times and lack of awareness of programs and services.


A stellar contribution

"I simply love talking with people about science," says Dr. Rob Thacker, Director of the Science Outreach Centre and Astronomy & Physics professor. An internationally recognized researcher and a passionate educator, Dr. Thacker received the Canadian Astronomical Society's 2018 Qilak Award in recognition of his outstanding outreach work. He shares knowledge via dozens of public lectures and weekly interviews on "Sounds of Science" (CBC NS), "Ottawa Today" (1310 News) and "Science Ship" on Rogers radio stations across the country.

Supporting athlete mental health

"We know student-athletes are incredibly busy and can be vulnerable to mental health concerns," says Scott Gray, Saint Mary's Director of Athletics & Recreation (centre). "That's why supports like SAMHI are essentiaI." Student-athletes Carlie Nugent BA'18 and Brent Martindale volunteer with the Student-Athlete Mental Health Initiative (SAMHI). They use the SAMHI model to increase supportive conversations and help their community access resources. "There is always someone willing to listen," says Nugent.


Illuminating history

A centuries-old artifact found at Saint Mary’s was returned to its former glory thanks to Judith Dietz BA'84 MA'07 DLitt’17 (shown in picture). The curator spotted the tome at the Patrick Power Library in 1998. Years of research and restoration revealed it as The Salzinnes Antiphonal, an illuminated choir book from 16th century Belgium. The stunning find sheds light on the powerful roles of women in religious orders and was the subject of an acclaimed exhibition at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (May 2017 – January 2018).

Trace the fascinating journey of the spectacular Salzinnes Atniphonal and see rare footage in this mini- documentary featuring curator Dr. Judith Dietz: The Salzinnes Antiphonal – A Saint Mary’s Treasure.  

Investing in entrepreneurship

The Province of Nova Scotia showed strong support of Saint Mary’s work in entrepreneurship when it announced an $11 million investment on March 15 for the creation of the Entrepreneurship, Discovery and Innovation (EDI) Hub attached to the Sobey School of Business. The new facility will bring together programs, professors from all faculties, and students – like Enactus members (l) Tapiwa Rabwi (3rd year Marketing) and Sehmat Suri (4th year Marketing/Psychology) pictured here with Premier Stephen McNeil – and connect them with entrepreneurs, businesses and the external community to drive innovation.

An evening with Michael Medline

Members of the Saint Mary’s and Nova Scotia business communities were eager to hear from one of Canada’s top retailers on how to delight customers and innovate in today's environment. At a David Sobey Centre Distinguished Speakers event on March 22, Michael Medline, President & CEO, Sobeys Inc., addressed more than 500 students, faculty and community members. Medline engages with the audience during a Q&A with Dean Patricia Bradshaw of the Sobey School of Business (in picture).

Student town hall on the federal budget

It was standing-room only at Loyola Conference Hall when the Honourable Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board and MP for Kings-Hants held a town hall for Saint Mary's students the day after the federal budget was released. More than 200 students came to discuss budget highlights, including support for Indigenous communities, research and innovation and a greater role for women in the economy.

Arts program a Canadian first

Saint Mary's broke new ground when it welcomed its first cohort of Chinese students into the Faculty of Arts this winter. "We are the first university in Canada, and maybe first in the world, to implement a 2+2 Program in Arts," said Dr. Margaret MacDonald BA'83, Saint Mary's Dean of Arts. Thanks to a unique, long-standing partnership with Beijing Normal University-Zhuhai, 37 students will finish the last two years of their undergraduate degrees at Saint Mary's.

The future of athletic excellence

Huskies fans, students and the local community alike were excited to learn that construction has begun on a new state-of­ the-art facility to replace the Alumni Arena. The modern new arena will feature an NHL­ sized ice surface and have capacity for more than 1000 fans. Construction is underway and slated to finish in time for the 2019 varsity season.

Saint Mary's by the Numbers

Research leadership

  • Fellowships and research grants: $8.38 million
  • Home to nine Canada Research Chairs
  • 60-70 industry-sponsored projects per year
  • Saint Mary's awarded the most SSHRC Insight Development Grant funding in Atlantic Canada (2017-18)

Student-athlete excellence

2018 Varsity Sport Teams

  • 27 AUS All-Stars
  • 7 AUS Major Awards
  • 1 AUS Championship - women's hockey (3rd consecutive)
  • 3 USport All-Canadians
  • 1 USport Major Award winner
  • 72 Academic All-Canadians (2016/17)

Proud alumni

  • 2nd highest alumni engagement level in the country
  • 75% would speak highly of Saint Mary's

Supporting Students

  • Funds spent on student employment: $4.2 million
  • Scholarships, fellowships and bursaries: $7.69 million
  • Philanthropic support: $2.78 million

Service learning

Service learning links community-based experience with course content providing rich learning experiences for students and valuable assistance to community partners.

2017-2018 results:

  • Student participants: 203
  • Hours worked: 3554
  • Community partners: 34
  • Service learning courses: 10

Fast Facts

  • Founded in 1802, we are the 2nd largest university in Nova Scotia
  • $329 million dollars contributed annually to the Nova Scotia economy by the internationally accredited Sobey School of Business
  • Home to the most powerful telescope in Atlantic Canada and the only Twitter-controlled telescope in the world (@smubgobs)
  • Only Canadian university to offer a B.A. in Entrepreneurship
  • Only Forensic Science program east of Ontario
  • 7100 Full and part-time students
  • 558 Full and part-time faculty
  • 30% International students
  • 481 Full and part-time staff
  • 118 Countries represented by students
  • 1500 Degrees, diplomas awarded annually