Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Saying Farewell to 2011

It’s that time in the calendar when our normal routines have a festive touch to them, and after this busy term, I know we’re all eagerly anticipating the holiday break.  With each day that passes, I come to know the unique spirit that lives at the Mount. I have learned that we are special because of our people, our accomplishments, and our perseverance.  As we approach the holiday season, I am more proud than ever to be a part of this community. I would like to take a moment to reflect on what the past year has brought us.  We have so many accomplishments to acknowledge, to give thanks for, and to look forward to, that it will be impossible to highlight them all, but I will do my best to mention a few.  
This year saw many notable successes.  Students began to take advantage of the newly renovated space in Evaristus Hall with its state-of-the art laboratories, common gathering areas, meeting rooms and multi-faith reflection room.  The renovations were supported by provincial and federal government funding, including the Knowledge Infrastructure Program.
In research news, Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal was awarded the only Atlantic Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Chair for Women in Science and Engineering.  We’ve also celebrated the one-year anniversary of the Co-Curricular Program, which formally recognizes student participation in volunteer work, student societies, athletics, professional development and other leadership initiatives.  I’d like to extend a big thanks to the Career Planning Centre for spearheading this project.
This fall also marked the tenth anniversary of our Multicultural Night put on by the International Student Society.  It was a great evening of food and entertainment by a magician, dancers and singers from diverse countries and cultures.
We were privileged to welcome an impressive array of guests to our campus this fall. To name a few, there was teaching guru Dr. Ken Bain as part of our Literacies as Ways of Knowing series. The Association of Atlantic Universities Teaching Showcase brought in faculty members from around the region, and members of the Federal Conservative Post-Secondary Caucus visited to tour our new spaces supported by the Knowledge Infrastructure Fund.  Working with post-secondary and First Nations leaders, we recently hosted a Virtual Dialogue on First Nations Post-Secondary Education with National Chief Shawn Atleo in attendance.
And how could we forget the compelling addresses to our Fall graduates from honorary doctorate recipients Sheila Fraser and Mary Walsh?  
Our guests, however, aren’t the only ones inspiring change around these parts. Fifty volunteers, four committees, and a campus-wide commitment have created tremendous momentum for Project Twenty12.  We are more than half way to reaching our $12 million dollar goal that will see us construct the only university building in Canada dedicated throughout all its spaces to honouring women.  For those of you trying to find that perfect gift for friend, mentor or loved one, there is still time to make your pledge and celebrate the women in your life by having their names included on the Women’s Wall of Honour.
In closing, some final congratulations are in order. To our students who have finished their Fall term exams, I congratulate you. Please enjoy every minute of your break – you deserve it. To our faculty and staff, thank you for your passion and patience, and I wish you rest and renewal over the holidays. To our athletes, thank you for your hard work on and off the court and field.  We are proud to have you representing us.  And good luck to our men’s basketball team in the new year as they continue the season undefeated.
I want to take this opportunity to extend my deep thanks to all the Mount community for your hard work and commitment to our mission. Your contributions are shaping who we are, and what we will become.
I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season and look forward to what we will accomplish together in 2012.
Until next time,