Getting to Know You: Kelly Thompson

This article, written by Philip Girvan, will appear in the Winter 2017 issue of The Beacon.

In 2001, Kelly Thompson and his family moved to Antigonish from Saskatchewan when his then spouse was hired at StFX. As luck would have it, the Human Kinetics Department was looking to fill both a lab position and a skills position at that time. Both positions were well-aligned with Kelly’s skill set and he was hired shortly after arriving. Kelly currently works as an Exercise Physiology Lab Instructor and Gymnastic and Fitness Skills Instructor teaching three sections of Gymnastics 105, two sections of Gymnastics 205, and two sections of Fitness 105.

For over 35 years, gymnastics has been a major part of Kelly’s life whether as an athlete, a coach, an official, or an administrator. He has been involved in several major world events including 4 Commonwealth games, 3 Pan-American Games, 6 World Championships, and 3 World University Games. Kelly served as an official during the 2004 Olympic Games. Yet Kelly may be best known, at least in Antigonish, for his role in creating the teaching practicum component of the Gymnastics 205 course. (more…)

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Sexual Violence and the Legal System — a talk by Dr. Elaine Craig

Dr. Elaine Craig, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University, will be giving a public talk, “Sexual Violence and the Legal System,” on Friday, February 10 from noon to 1:30pm. Dennis Hall.
All are welcome.

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Schedule for Pride Week 2017

Wednesday February 8: Wing Night with Get Real (Golden X Inn)

Thursday February 9: Gaymes Night (NH 154) 6-9 pm

Friday February 10: X-Pride Coffee House and Open Mic (MSB Cafe) 6-8 pm

Saturday February 11: Priscilla, Queen of the Highlands (MacKay Room) 9-12

Sunday February 12: Queer Movie Night — Blue is the Warmest Color (NH 150) 6-9 pm

Sunday February 12: Bringing in the Bystander Training (Alumni Lounge) 1-3 pm

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Invitation from the Department of Sociology

The Department of Sociology is pleased to invite you to “Challenges with the Field of Environmental Advocacy” a talk by Dr. Howard Ramos, Associate Dean of Research, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences; Professor, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Dalhousie University.

Dr. Ramos’s bio is here.

Time: Monday January 16th beginning 2:00 pm
Location: Riley Lounge, The Coady Institute

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The StFXAUT Stands with the University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA)

This article, written by Susan MacKay, originally appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of The Beacon.

In support of and in solidarity with our colleagues at the University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA), the StFXAUT donated $1,000 as a demonstration of that support during the Association’s 21-day strike.  Some of UMFA’s central concerns include workload protection and the establishment of workload guidelines, more effective collegial governance, potential misuses of performance metrics, responsibility-based budgeting, and a recognition of fundamental equality among UMFA Members.

Funded by the CAUT Defence Fund, former StFXAUT President and CAUT Chair of Academic Freedom & Tenure, Dr. Peter McInnis, attended a flying picket on Friday, November 4th in solidarity with our colleagues at UMFA, representing the members of the StFXAUT.

The StFXAUT contributes monthly dues to the Defence Fund, which provides Canadian academic unions with a unified strike fund and financial support, including strike pay and coverage for mediation and arbitration costs, while its members are engaged in a strike or a lock-out and experiencing a loss of salary.

Dr. Bob Zecker is the Defence Fund Trustee for the StFXAUT.

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CAUT Librarians & Archivists Conference (October 21-22, 2016)

This article, written by Suzanne van den Hoogen, originally appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of The Beacon.

Academic Librarians represent a unique group within the academy. Like our faculty colleagues, we face many of the same workplace challenges – from basic conditions of employment to equity, research, teaching, professional development, and academic freedom. Additionally, academic librarians across the country are being confronted with the continued de-professionalization of their careers through the hiring of non-librarians for positions traditionally held by librarians and archivists.

Clearly these are challenging times for higher education – a tsunami of change, if you will.  Government funding in support of post-secondary education across the country is stagnating, tuition costs are rising, and student enrollment is declining.  Complements of academic librarians are also declining, resulting in increased workloads for those who remain. More often than ever before, we are being asked to do more with less. Collective bargaining is an effective way to confront these issues and to make an impact at the negotiating table. (more…)

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FAIR EMPLOYMENT WEEK AT STFX by Martin Sastri

This article, written by Martin Sastri, originally appeared in the Fall 2016 Issue of the Beacon.

Fair Employment Week is an annual campaign promoted by the Canadian Association of University Teachers. Taking its origins from a state-wide mobilization of instructors at community colleges in California, Fair Employment Week has grown to become an annual week of activism highlighting the unfair working conditions of contract academics (also known, variously, as Part-Time Instructors and Limited Term Appointments), in post-secondary institutions throughout the world. Fair Employment Week takes place in the last week of October.

Photo of StFXAUT table taken by Martin Sastri

Here at St. FX, the AUT Executive formed an ad-hoc committee to coordinate our local Fair Employment Week activities. This committee consisted of regular faculty members, as well as Part-Time Instructors, and received invaluable support throughout from the AUT’s Executive Assistant, Susan MacKay. The committee began by drafting an open letter to President Kent MacDonald, noting that Part-Time Instructors are an integral part of the student experience at St. FX, and yet these same Instructors are paid minimally and have no real job security. The letter closed by welcoming the opportunity – provided by the pertinent Letter of Understanding in the recently ratified 4th Collective Agreement – to determine with the University Administration how to bring true job security to Part-Time Instructors. This letter was sent to Dr. MacDonald and distributed to the AUT mailing list on Monday, October 24th. (more…)

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President’s Message

This message, written by StFXAUT President Mary Oxner, first appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of The Beacon.

Dear Members,

As we near the end of any year, we often reflect on what transpired during that year. In 2016, we successfully negotiated our 4th Collective Agreement, engaged numerous committees to work on issues which affect our Members, supported our Members through some difficult situations and participated in dialogues at both national and regional levels.

Our 4th Collective Agreement was signed on December 14th, 2016. Consequently, we will require a number of committees to implement various Letters of Understanding (LOUs) attached to that Agreement and to continue the existing work of the StFXAUT. At the beginning of 2017, we will be asking for your input on a number of topics and for your participation on committees which will have a direct impact on our Members‘ workload and working conditions.

As an Association, we are very fortunate and thankful to have many engaged and effective Members working in collaboration.

Have a restful and joyous Holiday Season.

Mary Oxner

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Alumni Shout Out: Dr. David Chiasson

This interview, conducted by Russell Wyeth, originally appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of The Beacon.

The Beacon regularly features interviews with StFX University Alumni on the topic of their relationships with StFXAUT members who challenged, inspired, or helped in some way. This issue’s interview is with Dr. David Chiasson (BSc ‘01):

Dr. David Chiasson; photo courtesy of University of Munich (LMU) website

The Beacon: You recently visited Antigonish during Homecoming 2016. How often have you been back since you graduated?

David Chiasson: I grew up in Antigonish County, so I’ve visited Antigonish at least once every two years since graduation in 2001. Now that we have two children, we are trying to get back as often as we can.

The Beacon: What’s something that has strikingly changed since your time here?

David Chiasson: The Campus! The transformation of the infrastructure is overwhelming. There are so many beautiful buildings it’s difficult to point to one. On my latest visit I was impressed with the new School of Nursing facilities in the renovated Mount Saint Bernard residence.

The Beacon: Anything that seems to have hardly changed at all?

David Chiasson: The people. It is a pleasure to come back to campus and meet up with former professors and colleagues as if I just left (even though it has been 15 years!).

The Beacon: Why did you choose StFX for your undergraduate degree? (more…)

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Getting to Know You: The StfX Music Department

This article, written by Philip Girvan, originally appeared in the Fall 2016 edition of The Beacon.

StFX jazz students performing at Immaculata Hall; photo credit Devon Chisholm

The headline at the top of the “About” section of the StFX website informs visitors that “StFX is known for the quality of our teaching, small class sizes creating an intimate and collaborative learning environment, and our valuable hands-on learning and research opportunities for undergraduates”. The StFX Music Department is an example of these priorities in practice.

Despite a relative short history (1978: Jazz Diploma established; 1983: Bachelor of Arts Honours Jazz degree, the first four-year jazz degree in Canada, established; 1990: Bachelor of Music Honours jazz degree established), the many awards, grants, scholarships, publications, record deals, invitations to perform at showcased concerts, and other recognitions received by StFX Music faculty, graduates, and students speak to the quality of the instruction, as well as the dedication and talent of those involved.

Alumni credit StFX professors and instructors with helping them to develop solid practice habits, to prepare for music careers, to send their compositions to publishing houses, and helping prepare them for graduate studies. Breagh MacKinnon, an accomplished performing and recording artist based in Halifax, is a graduate of the Jazz Studies, Bachelor of Music Studies (Honours) 2014. MacKinnon informed The Beacon that the “four years spent at StFX allowed me to develop and hone skills in performance, composing and arranging, that I now use on a day to day basis”. MacKinnon joins other Alumni in emphasizing the intimacy of the Jazz Studies program, stating that, “the small class sizes, and one on one attention from the professors gave me the ability to focus on the areas that I was interested in”. Jake Hanlon, who graduated with a Bachelor of Music, and is now teaching faculty at StFX, noted: “the biggest strength that we have, as I experienced it from both ends, is the one on one instruction”. (more…)

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