Letter from the President of Saint Mary's University, Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray

A Look Back, A Look Ahead I want to take a moment to look back at the year that was and look ahead at what to expect from Saint Mary's in 2021. The pandemic prevented many students from coming to Halifax, both domestic and international, and it resulted in us moving many aspects of our operations from campus into our homes. How faculty, staff, students, and alumni responded to the pandemic is a tremendous source of pride. Early in the pandemic, we moved to virtual learning and maintained academic and research continuity. We donated PPE and partnered with local companies to produce hand sanitizer and products related to COVID-19 testing. Our researchers received hundreds of thousands of dollars to study the pandemic's impacts on society, business organization and economic recovery. We did all this while rallying to support our students. We provided more funding, new virtual learning resources, study supports and enhanced capacities for mental health services. But we must acknowledge also that the university faced significant financial and operational challenges in 2020. In prioritizing the important work above, we also had to manage the financial impact of significant tuition revenue decline and the necessity of reducing operational expenses in many areas. That we did all of this while still largely preserving our ‘people capacities’ is highly commendable but I do not underestimate the importance of us continuing to think creatively for the future. Many of you, our valued alumni, stepped up to help the Saint Mary's community as well. You donated to support our students early in the pandemic, and you stepped up in a big way very recently, raising more than $30,000 on Giving Tuesday to address food insecurity for students. Our efforts were also recognized by Maclean's. This year, we moved up two places in the Maclean's rankings. We are now ranked fourth among undergraduate universities in this country. Our regional and national prominence also continues to rise - and this bodes well for our future. Looking ahead, in the new year, we will begin a new round of strategic planning, ensuring we come out of this pandemic stronger than before. We will find ways to build on our resilience and identify the things we need to transform. We will need to make investments that ensure continued teaching and research success and excellence. We need to explore new ideas that will increase enrollment and bring more students to Saint Mary's. Our academic programming must be innovative and bold. Finally, we must continue to acknowledge and address the structural obstacles faced by many in our community. In 2020, we hired the university's first advisor for students of African Nova Scotian and African Descent, welcomed the first Indigenous Visiting Fellow, and continued the work of the President's Standing Committee on the Prevention of Racism. In 2021, we will advance our commitment to being more inclusive and welcoming by launching a new diversity strategy for the university, building on our intercultural learning strengths. We have a lot of work ahead of us in 2021. I therefore remain eternally grateful for your continued commitment and energy. You are an essential part of the Saint Mary's community, and we need your dedicated support in 2021. Age quod agis.


Scott McElman BComm'91

Welcome to our new digital version of the Maroon & White magazine, your source of information and stories for and about Saint Mary’s alumni. I hope you enjoy the new format. The stories and news are as interesting as usual. It just looks a little different. I welcome your feedback and please help us share this new format with other alumni you know. I don’t have to mention to any of you how challenging this year has been for so many all over the world. With alumni in over 100 countries, it’s hard not to know of people who have been impacted by the pandemic, here at home or abroad. There has also been a sense of resilience. Alumni stepping up to help, shifting their business models, learning new ways of connecting and surviving. In this issue, you’ll hear a few of these stories. The move to virtual has, in many cases, allowed us to connect with more of our alumni and students. You’ll read about our Entrepreneurs in Residence, both alumni, who are helping our students navigate the entrepreneurial landscape. We were not only dealing with a pandemic this year but a lot of unrest and rising up to address racial inequality. Faculty member Rachel Zellars immediately kicked into action in the local Black Lives Matter movement. Read about her work in the community. Much of the other work of our alumni volunteers on the Alumni Council was halted as we moved from in person activities. We cancelled our Annual Golf tournament, but we still managed to support 17 students with bursaries with a surplus that had built up the last few years, thanks to the generosity of our supporters. Homecoming became a virtual event and while we missed connecting in person this year, we heard from expert faculty and alumni doing great work in the community and on campus. Part of my role as Alumni President is representing our alumni on the Board of Governors. I want to end this message by assuring you that the university, while challenged like so many other organizations, is continuing to deliver an excellent post-secondary education under sound and prudent fiscal management. Together apart is the theme of 2020. I know that theme resonates with you, our alumni, who are with us every step of this journey, supporting the university where you can through mentoring, contributing financially and/or volunteering your time and talent. Please keep doing what you do and stay safe & healthy. All the best to you over this holiday season and my best wishes to you for the new year.