Dr. Peter J. Ricketts,
President and Vice-Chancellor

General Assembly

The General Assembly serves to recognize those marking the special career milestones of 10, 25, and 35 years of service, and retirement in 2022. The dedication and contributions of those listed have enriched the Acadia University Community.


Please note every year some honourees ask not to be recognized.

Shauna Coldwell Sweeney

School of Education

Shauna’s Acadia journey began when she enrolled as a student in the 1980s, graduating with a BSA in 1986.

Originally from New Minas, Shauna returned to Acadia in 1989 to work in the Admissions Office. In 1993, she moved to the School of Education; since then, she has worked with 18 directors and acting directors.

As a long-time academic administrative assistant, Shauna witnessed many changes. When she began work in the Admissions Office, the records clerk used paper cards attached to a metal hoop to track incoming students. To send a fax or shred documents, they had to use the shared machines on the third floor of University Hall. She witnessed the excitement of faculty receiving tiny MacIntosh office computers in 1993, the arrival of the Acadia Advantage program in the late 1990s, and the technology preparations for the year 2000. While the new millennium arrived without incident, for Shauna it was momentous. Her baby son was born that same month.

Working in the School of Education for 28 years gave Shauna insight into many educational issues. She attended meetings of the Inter-University Committee on Teacher Education in a recording role. She also served as the admin to the School’s Scholarship Committee, where she learned about the accomplishments of education students and the sacrifices they made to obtain their post-baccalaureate BEd degree.

Shauna’s directors always encouraged her to pursue professional development. She joined the International Association of Administrative Professionals and became professionally certified. In her other role as a parent, working in the School of Education gave her an appreciation for teachers, principals and school staff and the challenges and rewards of their important work.

In Shauna’s view, prospective Acadia students will receive a world-class education in a beautiful small-town setting.

She will miss many wonderful colleagues, especially Melanie MacEachern, with whom she worked since 1993. She will also miss Seminary House, where she attended many classes as a student during the 1980s, and where she had an office with a view of the quad during her time in the School of Education.

In retirement, Shauna is providing companionship and assistance to her elderly mother. She is also taking time to enjoy gardening and improve her cooking skills.

Congratulations, Shauna!

Hope Corkum

Manning School of Business Administration

Hope’s Acadia experience began more than 20 years ago when she was hired as a temporary worker in the Faculty of Science. Raised in Scots Bay, Hope came to Acadia for employment and found she really liked it. After working a term at the Acadia Divinity College, still as a temp, she applied for a position at the School of Business and was hired in May 2001. She worked in the School until retirement.

Hope has many good memories of experiences with students – so many, in fact, that she and a colleague talked about writing a book about the life and times of the business school.

During her career at Acadia, Hope learned that there are a lot of bright students from all over the world who have great ideas, and some of them have converted those ideas into successful businesses.

She also grew as a person. For Hope, the best thing about growing older is knowledge and experience. She liked learning to think through a problem.

Hope believes prospective students can’t go wrong by coming to Acadia. She points to the one-on-one service, knowledgeable professors, and super programs and says students will be guided throughout their program. They will be glad they chose Acadia, she says.

Hope looks forward to taking this summer off, her first summer without working obligations in 43 years. Her plans include upgrading her flower gardens, working on some home projects, and taking a trip to Newfoundland and Labrador with her husband in the fall.

In retirement, Hope will miss the students, her close colleagues, and good friendships. She wouldn’t name a single memorable Acadia moment, even though many such moments and events stand out for her. The stories would take too long to tell, she says. Besides, she is saving them for her book.

Congratulations, Hope!


Dr. Heather Kitchin Dahringer


Heather came to Acadia in 1999 to accept a contract teaching post. When the position was converted to tenure stream, she became permanent full-time after an open competition for the position.

Originally from Halifax, Heather earned an MA with honours in sociology at Dalhousie in 1992. While pursuing that degree, she was awarded the Killam Scholarship. She entered her PhD program at Carleton with SSHERC funding and completed the degree in 2001.

In 2003, Heather won an ASU Teaching Award.

In 2007, she authored Research Ethics and the Internet. Her book set out the language and proposed policies governing the ethics of using the internet in research. It informed the policy shift and legislative changes in the Tri-Council Policy 2 with regards to such research. The Tri-Council Policy Statement is the legislation that governs the ethical conduct for research involving humans. It is the official research ethics policy of federal research agencies such as NSERC and SSHRC.

In 2017, Heather co-edited Mapping Geographies of Violence, a book that presents readers with a larger understanding and analysis of how violence is rooted in social constructs such as class, patriarchy, and racism.

Heather describes her experience at Acadia as richly textured. She says she was fortunate to work and serve alongside some of the most highly regarded and respected members of the University. In her words, they were giants.

Her most memorable moment? When her daughter graduated with a chemistry degree, Heather sat with the science faculty on stage during convocation to free up a seat in the audience for someone else.

Heather retired as a full professor. What she will miss most is the teaching, especially the students who were ready, she says. “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

In retirement, once the pandemic settles down, Heather and her husband hope to continue travelling, cruising, and spending more time with family.

Congratulations, Heather!


Donna Benere Dillman

Research and Graduate Studies

Donna joined the Acadia community 20 years ago, in January 2002. She was hired as a casual worker in the Admissions Office. Later that year, she moved to Earth and Environmental Sciences. Then, as so often happens, casual work at Acadia led to a full-time position.

In September 2002, Donna was hired full-time as the accounts receivable clerk with Event Services. She worked there for 17 years.

Three years ago, Donna moved to the Research and Graduate Studies Office, where she is the research office administrator and will stay until she retires in October.

Originally from Enfield, Nova Scotia, Donna moved to the Annapolis Valley because of a job opportunity for her husband, LeRoy.

Donna has been working from home since the start of the pandemic in early 2020. What she has missed most was spending her lunch breaks at the beautiful Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens.

In retirement, Donna looks forward to making treasured memories with her husband, two children, two grandsons, 93-year-old mother, seven sisters, and many friends. Donna says she is always up for an adventure. She is anticipating many more, wherever they may take her.

Congratulations, Donna!


Pam Frail

Earth and Environmental Science

Pam arrived at Acadia as a geology student in 1976, straight out of school, but by Christmas she had left to seek other adventures. In 1982–83, she returned to the geology program as a mature student, but once again life intervened. Even so, she managed to take all the course she would need 30 years later when Dr. Sandra Barr invited her to fill the post of geology technician.

In August 2012, life brought Pam full circle, back to her love of rocks and science, when she began working for the Department of Earth and Environmental Science.

A gifted multimedia artist and craftsperson, Pam had run her own jewellery-making business for years, and by 2012 she was selling to 38 stores. During that time, she also ran a greenhouse business with a neighbour for nine years.

Pam was a member of the Seven Artists Collective. This group of Valley women artists created indoor and outdoor art for about 10 years. In 2010, they did a large show in Denmark and a follow-up show at the Craig Gallery in Dartmouth. That year, Pam won the 2010 Nora Goreham Trophy from the Nova Scotia Metal Arts Guild for “best piece” in the All Silver category.

At Acadia, her skills with rocks and minerals were put to good use with the rock saws, grinders and polishers for thin section work.

Earth and Environmental Science faculty and staff care about students, she says. It was a pleasure to be part of that team. One unexpected perk? The rock room, located in the basement of Huggins, is eight flights of stairs to the department on the 3rd floor. It was a built-in workout!

In 2020, Pam was excited to oversee the acquisition of new equipment for the rock room, with the help of sizeable donations from Sandra Barr and alumna Catherine Farrow. The lab space was also freshened up, and the new look inspired a new name. The rock room became the Acadia Petrographic Lab.

In retirement, Pam looks back on a great 10 years, but says it was time to step into whatever comes next. That will include art – for pure enjoyment, not business – the cottage, gardens, family and friends, and some volunteering. She can’t wait to see what happens.

Congratulations, Pam!

John J. Guiney Yallop, PhD

School of Education

John’s first experience of Acadia was while he was interviewing for academic positions at different universities in 2008. After five interviews, Acadia was his first choice. The interview felt warm and welcoming, the landscape was stunning, and he and his partner, Gary, felt that Wolfville would be a good place for their daughter to grow up.

John is originally from Newfoundland but moved to Toronto in 1982 after his first degree from Memorial University. He met Gary there in 1985, and they lived in Ontario until June 2008. That’s when they moved to Wolfville with their then 9-year-old daughter, Brittany.

A lifelong learner, John completed four degrees before coming to Acadia, including a BEd, MEd, and PhD in educational studies. For many years, he worked as a teacher in Toronto and Brampton, Ontario.

All of John’s academic research and writing at Acadia have been poetic inquiry and narrative inquiry. His approaches to research were welcomed and supported. He says he was paid to write poetry, an enviable position for a poet. He has published numerous books of poetry and co-edited Influences and Inspirations in Curriculum Studies Research and Teaching: Reflections on the Origins and Legacy of Contemporary Scholarship.

Two events that stand out for John occurred in his first year of teaching at Acadia. During his first term, his sister died of colorectal cancer, and at the beginning of his second term, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The support and care that he, his partner and daughter experienced from faculty, staff, students, and the larger community was immeasurable, he says. He was and will remain deeply grateful.

What will he miss the most in retirement? Paddy’s Brew Pub, particularly Raven Ale, and the Halifax Waterfront.

However, John is in many respects not retired at all. He has started a life coaching business in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. He is also on the steering committees of the Atlantic Centre for Creativity and the Canadian Network for Imagination and Creativity.

Congratulations, John!


Professor John Hansen

School of Music

John arrived at Acadia to take up a teaching position 45 years ago. When asked to describe his Acadia experience, he sums it up wryly in one word: “Lengthy.”

Born in England, John landed at Pier 21 at the age of four, boarded the train to cross the country, and grew up in Vancouver.

Before joining Acadia’s School of Music to teach piano performance and pedagogy, John was a member of faculty and the College of Examiners at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. He holds the Master of Music degree in performance and literature with distinction from the University of Toronto. He had also received the Artist Diploma and Bachelor of Music degree at U of T.

As a pianist, John has performed as soloist and chamber musician in Canada, the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy, and Germany. He has collaborated with renowned ensembles and appeared as concerto soloist with symphony orchestras including the Vancouver, Seattle, and CBC Toronto orchestras. He is a regularly featured performer on the English and French CBC Radio networks.

During John’s time at Acadia, he learned the value of teamwork. He became director of the School of Music in 1998 when it was facing many challenges. Faculty pulled together, revised the curriculum, and added exciting new programs. Enrolment doubled, and they established the School as a successful unit on campus.

John describes Acadia’s music program as unique in Canada, offering a pragmatic, heuristic learning experience across a versatile curriculum.

In 2009, in recognition of John’s outstanding contribution to music education in Canada, the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers’ Associations honoured him with the Hugheen Ferguson Distinguished Teacher Award.

John’s most memorable moment? It was a unique Acadia experience. As director of the School of Music, he flew with Arthur Irving in his private jet to Steinway headquarters in New York City. They were there to choose a piano for the Garden Room of the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre.

John will miss his colleagues and students (although he won’t miss the meetings, he says). He will celebrate retirement by taking a European cruise later this year.

A musician never really retires, of course, so John sees a lot more music in his future.

Congratulations, John!

Dr. Diane Holmberg


A tight job market brought Diane to Acadia 28 years ago. At the time, she was looking to return to Canada after earning her MA and PhD from the University of Michigan. Since Diane’s husband is from Nova Scotia, they were both pleased when she got the Acadia offer.

Originally from Waterloo, Ontario, Diane is a social psychologist whose primary research interests are in the area of close relationships. She has enjoyed working at a time and in a place where it was possible to have a reasonable balance between teaching and research, and between work and life. She also loves Wolfville and says that her experiences here are the envy of her colleagues elsewhere.

When Diane began teaching, she expected to be all-in on research. But while she enjoyed research and stayed research-active throughout her career, she also discovered a love of teaching and especially mentoring and supervising students.

At Acadia, Diane learned that what really fulfills her is sparking and nurturing enthusiasm for questioning, research, and lifelong learning in others.

Diane recalls her favourite course evaluation comment of all time. When she was teaching the second-year Research Design and Analysis course, one student commented, “She makes you forget how boring it really is.” Getting students excited about asking and answering their own research questions, and helping them learn how to do it well, has been the single most rewarding aspect of her job.

Retirement for Diane will look very much like sabbatical, she says. While she will miss having lunch daily with her colleagues – doing jigsaw puzzles, supporting each other, solving the world’s problems, or just discussing bad movies and music – she will continue to be actively involved in research and student supervision for the foreseeable future.

Diane’s retirement plans include taking classes herself, but she’ll also hike and bake and cook more. She intends to volunteer and travel, and she may take up art again. She may even try learning to play the guitar – which she says she will be bad at, but who cares?

Congratulations, Diane!

Barbara A. Jordan

School of Music

Barbara first came to Acadia on a work placement through NSCC–Kingstec. Having grown up in White Rock, she graduated from NSCC in 1982 and started working at Acadia that year. The rest, as she says, is history.

During her first year at Acadia, Barbara worked as a floater in eight different offices and departments. From 1983 to1985, she was a secretary / technical typist in the Chemistry Department. Then, in 1985, she landed her dream job as administrative assistant at the School of Music.

Barbara had always loved music, playing piano and guitar, and singing at events with her sister, so she fit right in. She worked with many wonderful supervisors. They treated her with respect and made her feel that her opinions and ideas mattered and that she was a valuable part of the team. She particularly recalls with gratitude the occasions when Mark Hopkins, as acting director, publicly gave her credit for her ideas, her problem-solving skills, and her contributions to the running of the School of Music.

Barbara enjoyed helping thousands of students navigate their way through their degrees, whether they needed help with course adjustments or other paperwork, or a hug or advice when requested. She still keeps in touch with many former students.

Although she describes herself as a quiet person by nature, Barbara opened up while she worked at Acadia. She learned to express her opinions and ideas based on her years of experience. She also learned to be adaptable to ever-changing technology, to be a critical thinker, and to problem solve.

She believes that it is Acadia’s personal touch that makes it a special place to learn.

Despite missing her colleagues and the students, Barbara is looking forward to this next chapter of her life. She plans to follow her dreams, enjoy an active outdoor lifestyle, and experience travel adventures with her husband. They are already making plans to go somewhere exotic and romantic for a second honeymoon this September as they celebrate their 32nd anniversary.

Congratulations, Barbara!

Dr. Catherine Morley

School of Nutrition and Dietetics

Catherine arrived at Acadia in 2011 to take up a position as assistant professor in the School of Nutrition and Dietetics. What drew her here was the opportunity to integrate critical theory and adult learning principles in teaching and research along with her 25 years of experience as a clinical dietitian and dietetics consultant. In her 40 years as a registered dietitian, her time at Acadia was the best job she ever had.

Originally from Burlington, Ontario, Catherine lived 32 years in the western provinces before moving to Nova Scotia. She earned a PhD in community rehabilitation and disability studies from the University of Calgary and, before that, an MA in adult education from UBC. An artist as well as a dietitian, Catherine has a certificate in documentary film and a diploma in textile arts, both from Capilano University.

After moving to Nova Scotia, Catherine realized she should have moved here decades ago for the beauty, light traffic, climate, and incredible food supply. Professionally, she learned that her ideas about person-centred nutritional care and counselling were respected and that she could pursue them through research and teaching. In her role as professor, her voice was heard in dietetics education decision-making in Canada.

Catherine has chaired the Dietitians of Canada Board of Directors and served on the Board of the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation.

Her favourite Acadia memory is when a student, in a letter of recommendation, described taking a class with her as “like taking 50 dogs to the dog park – we all do our own thing (study a topic that interests us), we know we are safe, that Cath is watching out for us and will guide us when we ask/need it, she will cheer us on, and that she will safely ‘get us home’ (complete the course).”

Catherine’s retirement plans are creative and diverse. She is launching Catherine Morley Dietetics, a new consultancy offering nutrition counselling and research-methods skill development for dietitians. In addition, the consultancy offers nutrition counselling for trans and gender-diverse people and for individuals and families feeding loved ones who are sick. She also plans to pursue textile arts and promote textile environmental awareness.

Congratulations, Catherine!

Dr. Rob Raeside

Earth and Environmental Science

Rob’s most memorable moment at Acadia was his interview for a teaching position in the Geology Department 40 years ago. Meeting the faculty and staff, the dean and president was a bit overwhelming, but having people genuinely interested in him and his still somewhat limited skills inspired him. Participating in the geology field school and seeing the diversity of rocks here was exciting, and visiting in a professor’s home with its spectacular view over the Minas Basin took his breath away.

Originally from Kilmarnock, Scotland, Rob was just completing a PhD in metamorphic geology from the University of Calgary when he saw the Acadia job posting. Having experienced only large universities, he came to Acadia expecting to stay only a few years to hone his teaching skills, then move on to a “real” university. Within a couple of months, he realized that Acadia was a real university with a far better all-round experience than a research-intensive university – for professors as well as for students.

Since professors don’t get taught how to teach, Rob had to learn quickly, by trial and error. He still pities the students in his classes the first couple of years – they got a PhD-level instruction until he learned what was “enough.”

Rob would tell prospective students that they won’t find a better place to obtain an all-round education in science, the arts, business, or sport: “At Acadia you can experience it all, and your professors and support staff care about you,” he says. “They will want to meet you even before you start, and they will be talking about you and following what you are doing years after you have left.”

Rob has served as faculty and department head. He was also University Marshall from 2007 until just before the 2022 Convocation.

In 2021, Rob was named the Geological Association of Canada's J. Willis Ambrose Medalist. The medal recognized his contributions to numerous organizations, including Geoscience Canada, the Geological Association of Canada, the Mineralogical Association of Canada, and the Atlantic Geoscience Society.   

In retirement, Rob hopes to continue teaching occasional courses and working for scientific societies as editor, secretary, or organizer. However, he will have grandchildren moving to Nova Scotia in July, so he hopes to see a lot more of them (and, of course, their parents).

Congratulations, Rob!

Dr. Patricia Rigg

English and Theatre

Patricia arrived at Acadia in 1990 to take up a part-time teaching position. By 1997, she had a full-time contract. Over the years, she has served in several ways, including as department head and as an assistant Marshal at Convocation.

Originally from London, England, Patricia lived most of her early life in various parts of Canada. She earned her BA from Concordia in Montreal and her MA and PhD from the University of Calgary.

As an academic, Patricia focused her research on Victorian poetry. This was often in the context of gender studies and nineteenth-century culture, and more specifically on autobiography and poetry. Her publications include three books: Robert Browning’s Romantic Irony in The Ring and the Book, Julia Augusta Webster: Victorian Aestheticism and the Woman Writer, and A. Mary F. Robinson: Victorian Poet and Modern Woman of Letters.

Patricia was guest editor in 2017 of a collection of essays for the journal Victorian Poetry. She has contributed essays on Victorian poetry to several major nineteenth-century journals.

Her experience at Acadia was engaging and satisfying. No single moment stands out for her; there were too many good things to recall just one, she says.

Now Patricia is enjoying retirement. However, she is far from idle academically. She is still on an SSHRC grant, which gives her the opportunity to continue doing archival work.

Although still involved in research, she has lots of free time as well. Patricia’s most immediate focus is on family in France and in Ottawa, and on improving her own French.

Congratulations, Patricia!

35 Years of Service

  • Maria A. Alvarez, Languages & Literature

25 Years of Service

  • Dr. Paul W. Doerr, History
  • Jerry George, Technology Services
  • Jason D. Levy, Vaughan Memorial Library
  • Dr. Conor Vibert, School of Business
  • Linda Wheeldon, School of Education
  • Dr. Ian Wilks, Philosophy Department

10 Years of Service

  • Sue Conlan, School of Nutrition & Dietetics
  • Teri Gullon, Chemistry Department
  • Richard Johnson, Varsity Athletics
  • Tia Pinch, Technology Services
  • Jeff Torbert, School of Music
  • Chad A. Warren, English Language Centre
  • Dr. Anna Wilks, Philosophy Department
  • Michelle Wood, Varsity Athletics

2022 Acadia Alumni Outstanding University Service Award

  • Kim Vaughan, Kinesiology

2022 Acadia Alumni Faculty Award for Excellent in Teaching

  • Colin King, Kinesiology