The General Assembly serves to recognize those marking the special career milestones of 10, 25, and 35 years of service, and retirement in 2023. The dedication and contributions of those listed have enriched the Acadia University community.
Please note every year some honourees ask not to be recognized.
Earth and Environmental Science
Sandra is a pre-eminent geoscientist in Atlantic Canada. She has contributed to unravelling the tectonic history of the Appalachian Mountains, mapped the geology of nearly half of the Maritime Provinces, taught over 4,000 students the fundamentals of geoscience, and supervised 120 theses. Her worldwide collaborations have pioneered the use of tools ranging from field study to isotopic chemistry, geophysics and paleontology.
Originally from St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Sandra arrived at Acadia in 1976 to take up a faculty position in the Department of Geology. She was promoted to associate professor in 1980 and full professor in 1986. In 2007, the department’s name changed to the Department of Earth and Environmental Science when the Department of Geology merged with the Environmental Science program.
In her 47 years at Acadia, Sandra has seen many changes. Perhaps the most obvious change is in the number of women on campus, especially as faculty members. In 1976, the female faculty members were so few that they met for dinner in one another’s homes once a month.
Over the years, she learned that the Wolfville area is the perfect location for teaching geology. And Acadia has been a perfect niche for her, she says. Beginning with her first nervous experience in front of a big first-year class, she felt a strong rapport with Acadia students. By working closely with them, she was able to develop a rewarding teaching, research, and service career.
Her advice to prospective students? Do a major in geology! Or at least take a geology course so that you have an appreciation for the planet on which you live.
In 2020, Sandra was inducted into the Nova Scotia Science Hall of Fame. In 2022, she received the Bancroft Award by the Royal Society of Canada. This biennial award is given for publication, instruction, and research in the Earth sciences that have conspicuously contributed to public understanding and appreciation of the subject.
Although in retirement Sandra will miss teaching, as emeritus professor she plans to still interact with students and colleagues and do research. She also plans to continue doing geological field work and research as long as she is able to do so.
Vice-President, Finance and Administration, and CFO
When Chris joined Acadia in 2016, it was a homecoming. In 1978, he had earned his BBA here. He was following in the footsteps of his father, who graduated from Acadia in 1951.
After graduation, Chris joined Coopers and Lybrand, where he earned his Chartered Accountant designation. Then, in 1985, he joined the University of New Brunswick, where he served on the administrative team for 31 years in successively senior roles.
As Acadia’s VP, Finance and Administration, and CFO, Chris has been responsible for the University’s overall financial results, human resources, safety and security, information technology, equity, food services, Events Acadia, infrastructure, and athletics. In addition to his responsibilities at Acadia, Chris has served as a board member of the Canadian Association of University Business Officers since 2015 and as its President for the past 2 years. Chris has also served on the Council of Atlantic University Libraries Audit Committee and the Interuniversity Services Board of Directors.
In 2019, the Canadian Research Knowledge Network awarded Chris the Ron MacDonald Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his service and guidance. In 2005, he had been recruited by the late Ron MacDonald to serve on their inaugural Finance and Audit Committee. He served on the committee until 2010 and was Chair from 2012 to 2017.
Chris describes his Acadia experience as challenging but rewarding. The key thing he has learned is how kind people are here. His time at Acadia has reinforced his own values, he says. He advises prospective students to experience everything Acadia has to offer, outside the classroom as well as inside.
One memory stands out, and it was a white-knuckle affair. In December 2016, despite a blizzard that had closed the Trans-Canada Highway, Chris was driving to Halifax with Ray Ivany, accessing back roads as best they could. In the end, they didn’t make it to Halifax, but what stuck with Chris was that even though they knew they couldn’t make the drive, they still tried.
In retirement, what he’ll miss most is his staff. He plans to spend time with family and friends – and in particular to enjoy time at the family cottage in PEI.
Eric arrived on the Acadia campus as a student-athlete in 1988 and never left, transitioning from the football field to coaching the Axemen part-time under the legendary Sonny Wolfe to employment in Acadia’s Department of Athletics.
He began his 29-year career here as Equipment Room Manager. Since then, Eric has been the Athletics Service Desk Manager; Events and Operations Manager; and Events, Operations and Communications Manager. For the last six years, he has been the Athletics Communications Manager.
In June 2019, Eric received the new Outstanding University Service Award from the Acadia Alumni Association. The award, which had previously been presented in 2008, acknowledges a staff member who has had a significant positive impact on Acadia, its students and alumni.
Over the years, Eric has been proud of Acadia’s teams. He will never forget the 2008 men’s basketball team defeating the then-winner of five consecutive national championships Carleton Ravens in Ottawa after two overtime periods – in front of more than 10,000 hometown fans. He will also never forget our women’s rugby team winning their first AUS rugby title in 2015 at StFX, ending the X-Women’s grip on conference championships.
Eric would advise prospective students to take advantage of the opportunities to learn beyond the classroom. He believes that only a small institution like Acadia offers life-changing opportunities that enable you to become the best you can be and develop the skills for your future career.
Eric enjoys taking on new and challenging duties, and he describes his years at Acadia as very enriching. The six directors he had over the 29 years were a privilege to work with, he says, with great qualities that he appreciated.
In retirement, Eric will miss his colleagues and directors. He will also miss the connection he made with student-athletes. He loved every sport at Acadia and appreciated the effort many student-athletes made to be the best academically and athletically.
However, Eric is not putting up his feet just yet. As a lifelong learner, he had great opportunities to add to his skillset. He looks forward to applying those skills to a new job – managing the social channels and website of a real estate business in the Valley.
John loves to travel!
Before joining Open Acadia 12 years ago, he lived and worked in many different places, including Ontario, Virginia, the Northwest Territories and Germany. He interspersed those times with several travel forays abroad.
Originally from Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador, John attended Memorial University, earning three degrees: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Education, and Bachelor of Physical Education.
A move to Wolfville with his wife and son in 2004 introduced him to Acadia. Once he started working here, he soon developed friendships among his colleagues.
John would advise any prospective post-secondary student to consider Acadia for the small university benefits of getting to know your faculty and the staff at the University, and for the uniqueness of the combined university / small town experience that Acadia offers.
In retirement, John says he will miss spending time with his colleagues. Even so, his love of travel is unabated. He hopes to stay healthy so he can continue to explore the world. His other retirement goal, closer to home, is to be a good grandfather.
School of Education
By the time Michael graduated from high school in Amherst, Nova Scotia, the town’s industrial economy had pretty much collapsed. With no local jobs for working class kids on the horizon, he headed to Acadia in 1977. However, those first few weeks were bumpy, and he was almost ready to drop out. Six words stopped him.
His sociology professor, Mervin Chen, was handing back assignments after class one day in the first term. He stopped when he called out Michael’s name to return the paper, looked at him directly, and simply said, “You have an eye for this.” That small gesture of recognition and encouragement kept Michael in the game, which is why he’s here today. As a result, Michael has always tried to remember the import and weight of the words he speaks to students. That may be the most important thing he learned in his career here – that teachers have great power, and their most ordinary gestures should be carefully considered.
Michael’s undergraduate experience was transformative, he says. At Acadia you are still taught by accomplished scholars, but scholars who have an interest in your learning. After earning a BA (honours), he went on to earn a BEd and an MA in Sociology at Acadia. He also earned an MEd from Mount Saint Vincent and a PhD from UBC.
Following a 19-year public school teaching career and about a decade of part time teaching at Acadia in the Sociology Department, Michael joined Acadia’s School of Education full time in 2002. He has enjoyed working with smart, caring students and colleagues, he says.
Michael has been principal investigator on five SSHRC-funded projects and his scholarly contributions include more than 200 books, chapters, articles, research reports, invited addresses, and conference papers. In addition to several Acadia and national level research awards, in 2020 Michael was awarded a career achievement award from the American Educational Research Association.
In retirement, Michael hopes to improve his cooking, play with his grandchildren, make art, and volunteer. What will he miss most? The alarm clock and the structure – but he’s sure he’ll get over that!
Dean’s Office, Faculty of Professional Studies
A long bicycle ride brought Rosie to Nova Scotia. Originally from the United Kingdom, she was cycling around the world when she met her future husband in New Zealand. He was also travelling the world but in the opposite direction. They met again in Nova Scotia and eventually settled here.
At one point, when Rosie was interviewed for a position in the Business Office, her interviewer commented that she seemed to keep leaving jobs to go off travelling and that perhaps she wouldn’t be reliable or stick around. Well, stick around she did.
In her 32 years at Acadia, Rosie has worked in the Recreation Resource Centre; the Schools of Computer Science, Business, and Recreation Management; the Faculty of Professional Studies Dean’s Office; the Office of the Vice-President, Finance and Administration; and Human Resources.
With such a varied career, it’s no wonder she describes her time here as eclectic. Her committee work has been equally varied. While in the SEIU employee group, she served as Chair/President before joining AUPAT and serving on the Liaison Committee for many years. She also served on several University committees, and for the last 10 years was the Recording Secretary for the Acadia Senate.
Taking on new roles is confidence building, Rosie believes, and the more you do, the more well rounded you become. She has had the pleasure of working closely with phenomenal women and men and has enjoyed learning from them and the closeness they attained, she says. Although she will miss Godfrey House – her home from home for 15 years – and working with Corinne Haigh, she has already embarked on her next adventure. Rosie has just returned from three weeks in Macedonia, Northern Greece.
More cycling is on the horizon too – she has bought her own retirement gift, an electric bike. She is planning a good mixture of travel, gardening, cycling, hiking, photography, and weaving. With a daughter in Vancouver and a son in Montreal, she also has great Canadian cities to visit.
For Rosie, enduring memories of Acadia are lunchtimes enjoyed in the KCIC gardens and also the excellent pool and showers!
Faculty of Professional Studies
Lakes, forests and rivers are Scott’s natural habitat. Combining his love of the outdoors with his love of teaching brought him a 30-year career at Acadia.
Scott has taught in the School of Recreation Management and Kinesiology, School of Kinesiology, Department of Community Development, and School of Education. His courses have included outdoor recreation management, backcountry travel, adventure education, canoe tripping, winter survival, and outdoor leadership skills.
Those courses sometimes had a profound effect on his students. Following an outdoor excursion class, one student confided in him about her experience on the trip and how it had saved her life. Scott has been told this a few times during his career teaching the outdoor leadership skills classes.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that he received the Acadia Students’ Union Teaching Recognition Award for 2004–2005. Or that he was named a “favourite professor” by MacLean’s magazine in the 2005 and 2006 university issues. Scott was also the recipient of the Acadia Students’ Union Leadership in Teaching Award in April 2022.
In addition to teaching, Scott has provided consultation services to dozens of organizations on adventure education, programming, and outdoor leadership. In his spare time he built a 40 foot tall high ropes challenge course on campus which became an important teaching tool for the adventure education classes!
Originally from Stellarton, Nova Scotia, he wanted to come to Acadia because his father had attended after World War II. Scott graduated in 1991 with a Bachelor of Recreation Management, majoring in outdoor and environmental education. He returned to begin teaching in 1993. In 2011, he earned a Master of Education at Acadia.
Scott has never regretted a moment of teaching at Acadia and having the privilege of working with such wonderful scholars and administration, he says. He has learned about how to teach and engage students so they would have a wonderful experience at Acadia and become leaders in their field. He challenges himself to improve his teaching methods and to never remain with the status quo.
Scott would tell prospective students to be themselves and not to be influenced by peer pressure – and always to remember that choices have consequences and to be aware before going forward.
Although in retirement Scott will miss working with the students in the outdoors, he plans to continue to develop his outdoor leadership skills and to pass those skills on to others.
School of Education
Early one morning, as Allison was walking along a path towards Emmerson Hall, someone hailed her from another path some distance away. “Good morning, Allison!” She was startled to realize that it was Ray Ivany, who had only recently arrived on campus. How could he do this? Over time, people grew to recognize his remarkable ability to relate personally. But that moment affected Allison profoundly. It brought to her conscious awareness and appreciation the realization that she felt grounded and valued as an individual here on campus.
She hopes that Acadia’s students each have the same experience.
Although Allison was born in Wolfville, she returned only after having taught in the Toronto area for about 35 years. In 1998, she retired and moved back to be closer to her parents. In October 2001, she received a letter from Dr. Kelvin Ogilvie offering her a part-time position to teach a course in the School of Education during the winter term. She still has that “good news” letter.
Twenty-one years later, Allison describes her Acadia experience in one word – happy. She was finally where she belonged, where each day she was inspired by colleagues and students to give her best and to try to make a difference in the dynamic world of education.
She learned that the enthusiasm she began with in her 20s was well-founded. That human beings are amazing, and the synergy generated by groups of strongly motivated and committed people is one of our world’s richest resources and humanity’s strongest foundation for hope. She also learned to look for new ideas and listen to them, and to integrate into her value system those that resonated. She learned the importance of collective effort and to embrace the challenge of education’s constant evolution to incorporate recent research and address changing societal needs.
During retirement, Allison hopes to enjoy more leisure time with friends and family, resume unfinished projects packed away for this part of life, and leave herself open to new adventures. While she misses the day-to-day interaction with students and colleagues, the saving grace, she says, is that with intentional effort, friendships will still be nurtured.
When Doug arrived to teach at Acadia 34 years ago, the Psychology Department did not even have a photocopier. Grades were entered with pen and paper using carbon copies. His career at Acadia has been a time of massive technological and social change.
Originally from St. Catharines, Ontario, Doug was drawn to Acadia for family reasons and because of the University’s reputation. He has filled many roles here: Board of Governors, Senate, Head of Department, Research and Graduate Studies, Research Ethics Board, and University Club.
Doug helped hire women in the Psychology Department. in 1991, there was only one, but now they make up more than half the department’s faculty. Whatever forms of diversity were available, Doug advocated for them.
His Acadia experience has been a great run, he says. People across campus have been friendly and helpful. The students have been wonderful and keen to learn not just a set of facts but how to think and solve problems.
When Arthur Irving revealed to the Board of Governors the gift of the Irving Science Centre and Botanical Gardens, Doug was on the Board. Although many members wanted simply to accept the gift, he had two questions. What would this cost Acadia? And what about the daycare centre, which was on the proposed site? Faculty are not always against things, he says. Sometimes they just want to consider the unintended implications.
To a prospective student, Doug would say that Acadia has interesting professors to work with, and you will not get lost in the upscale frenzy of big schools in big places. Wolfville is also the place to be if you want a sense of community – and your parents will visit you more and bring you good things to eat!
Doug loved doing Game of Thrones Dinner Theatre at the University Club. He liked that Acadia is small enough for people to develop non-academic special interests.
Although he will miss the teaching and camaraderie, Doug is already focused on his next chapter. He is writing a book on the Oak Island Treasure Hunt, examining items found there from before 1200 CE – the days of Irish monks, Vikings, and early Knights Templar.
Vaughan Memorial Library
Pat has been described as the gatekeeper to Acadia University’s memory bank. As Archivist, she has been equal parts historian, detective, teacher, ambassador, tour guide and record keeper.
While attending university, Pat became interested in the historical and social development of the Maritimes, particularly with regard to denomination history. Although originally from Toronto, her interest in the Maritimes is what brought her to Acadia 51 years ago, where she began her career working mainly with the Atlantic Baptist archival records.
Pat’s noteworthy career was recognized at this year’s Convocation, when she was awarded Archivist Emerita. The designation is an honour and recognizes a distinguished academic career and exemplary service to Acadia University.
Always humble by nature, Pat describes her long career at Acadia as lots of learning and lots of fun. In that time, she has learned a great deal about the history of Acadia, the Annapolis Valley and Atlantic Baptists. She has also shared her strong appreciation for the importance of research and scholarship by encouraging a fair number of Acadia students to go on to graduate work.
To prospective students, she would say that Acadia is a great place to study, learn and develop lifelong friendships. Oh, and that the campus is gorgeous!
Although in retirement Pat will miss the many people she has interacted with over the years, she will not be idle. She intends to continue to research and write on topics related to the University and the Baptist denomination. A chapter for a book is in the works, as well as a booklet in the series produced by the Acadia Centre for Baptist and Anabaptist Studies. She is also writing a series of articles on Maritime Baptist women, most of whom graduated from Acadia, who went on to pastor Maritime Baptist churches.
Even in retirement, Pat will be keeping her eyes on the past, the present and the future.
35 Years of Service
Darryl Carnell, Technology Services
25 Years of Service
Rosanne McClare, Technology Services
Jennifer Richard, Vaughan Memorial Library
Shawna Singleton, Provost’s Office
Donald Stewart, Biology Department
10 Years of Service
David Beach, Varsity Athletics
Lesley Frank, Sociology Department
Nancy Handrigan, Office of Advancement
Len Hawley, Office of Advancement
Colin King, School of Kinesiology
Justin Lingard, Open Acadia
Matthew McSweeney, School of Nutrition and Dietetics
Anna Robbins, Acadia Divinity College
Mary Sweatman, Community Development
2023 Acadia Alumni Outstanding University Service Award
- Melanie Jackson ('99, '01)