“There’s been no time at which our commitment to social justice has been more important.”
At the Mount, we are privileged to be members of a supportive and creative community, one open to innovation and keen to challenge itself to reach new levels of success. We are fortunate to call this beautiful campus, city, province and country home.
Amidst much political and social unrest in the world, 2016 has been an important reminder of the need to stand up for those across the globe who continue to suffer the effects of marginalization and oppression. At the Mount, we have long been committed to social justice – ours is a history with deep roots in social responsibility. There’s been no time at which that commitment has been more important. The teaching, research, projects and people at the Mount have the power to change our world and I encourage you all to embrace acts of progress – from small endeavours to large-scale initiatives, each is critical.
This year, Canadians welcomed many refugees from Syria to our communities. I was so proud to see Mount students (in Education, Psychology and Child and Youth Study), together with faculty, step up to support the youngest of those immigrants through an after school homework program at nearby Duc d’Anville Elementary. Many others contributed to a special scholarship fund to support a student from Syria to continue their interrupted university studies at the Mount.
Through our Alexa McDonough Institute for Women, Gender and Social Justice (or AMI), now chaired by Dr. Susan Brigham, we hosted hundreds of girls from across Nova Scotia this past March at a conference that provided a safe space in which they could learn together about human rights, social justice issues and other topics relevant to them.Of special note, the AMI just recently received a Nova Scotia Human Rights Award for their Girls’ Conference. As well, through the Women in Science and Engineering Atlantic program led by professor and WISE Atlantic NSERC chair Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal, we hosted young women at events designed to encourage them in careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
This fall, our Senate and Board of Governors passed a new Social Responsibility statement for the Mount, outlining our commitment to socially responsible action. The statement has now been posted on the University website, and, if you haven’t already done so, I’d encourage you to read it and consider how you can help advance socially responsible action in your area.
Finally, we also stood with women last month in the wake of the result of the US Presidential election, sharing a video thank you to honorary Mount alum Hillary Clinton (Doctor of Humane Letters, 1995).
We’ve faced challenges here at home too, including, for example, the ever-increasing need for strong mental health supports for our students. We’ve also risen to that challenge and implemented initiatives (like Peer Support, Mental Health 101 and the Pathway to Mental Health Care joint research initiative) to ensure we continue to offer a top-notch university education in an environment supportive of all.
I am proud of our Mount. I am proud of all we have accomplished together in 2016.
And I am excited for the many opportunities and adventures in store in 2017.
At this special time of year, I hope you find time to relax, recharge and enjoy the company of loved ones.
I wish you all peace and joy this holiday season and throughout the New Year.
Ramona Lumpkin, CM, PhD
President and Vice-Chancellor
Mount Saint Vincent University