Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

A jump-start on the job: Dr. Andrew Hakin officially becomes StFX’s 19th President and Vice-Chancellor July 1; however, he has already invested much time on the job

June 26th, 2020
Andy Hakin

On July 1, 2020, StFX officially welcomes Dr. Andrew Hakin as the university’s 19th President and Vice-Chancellor, and already Dr. Hakin—who is looking forward to building on StFX’s exceptional tradition of academic excellence, spirit of service and community—has quietly been an integral part of developing StFX’s plans for the future. 

Dr. Hakin comes to StFX from the University of Lethbridge where he led as Provost and Vice President (Academic) for the past 13 years, and where he served for 31 years as a faculty member, first joining the Chemistry Department of the university in 1989. While he doesn’t officially begin his tenure until July 1, he’s had an early start at StFX in terms of work with the senior administration team. 

With the reality and challenges presented by the COVID-19 global pandemic, he’s been very much part of the planning process, participating in regular meetings with StFX colleagues over the past several months. 

“I’m developing a good operational understanding and an appreciation of the uniqueness of StFX University. I think this will serve me well in the months ahead,” Dr. Hakin says. 

“StFX is a fantastic institution and I want to continue to help to move it forward, especially during this time of unprecedented challenge. We will be committed to building and delivering the best possible experience for our students,” he says, acknowledging this work will continue despite the current uncertainties and confines presented by the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has changed realities around the world.

  

Dr. Hakin says one thing that has stood out during this early immersion into the institution is the continuation of the friendliness, engagement and connection he noted in his first visits to the StFX campus, along with presence of an impressive resilience and strength that is coupled with a desire to move forward. 

“I see an institution that, like everywhere else, will be challenged by this pandemic. But I see a community that is both strong and resilient and I feel that because of this, we’re likely better prepared than most to take on, and successfully navigate the challenges that are ahead. I’m impressed by the strength and togetherness of the university. I’ve also observed wonderful leadership…Dr. Wamsley and the leadership team have done such a tremendous job in stewarding the response to the pandemic and I am confident that I am joining an exceptionally strong team. I know that I’m entering into an institution that knows who it is and what it wants; an institution that is built on a solid platform of high quality and experience and, ultimately, that is ready to explore some new directions. To be a part of such a vibrant community is extremely exciting.

“Having said that, my first priority is to help manage and navigate the university through these unique and challenging times” said Dr. Hakin.

Understanding StFX’s unique needs will be key, he says. For instance, approximately 50 per cent of students live on campus—what will this mean in the current environment in which social distancing is a key strategy to move through the pandemic? Beyond this, continuing to build strong, healthy, and diverse residential student living communities will be a priority to further differentiate StFX from other post-secondary environments.  

Also important is recognizing the challenges of the incoming freshman class. This group of students most likely completed their final few months of high school online without the usual levels of face to face support and social interaction that they had become used to.  Entering a new learning and social environment as they arrive at university is likely to come with some heightened anxiety. “In these unusual times we must find ways to better support our entering students with their transition to university life.  I know that we are working on strategies designed to enhance and support student success and resilience – the success and wellbeing of our students will be a top priority,” he says. 

He recognizes that the first weeks on campus, after a period of self-isolation following his arrival from Alberta, will also be focused on getting to know the institution more intimately. Dr. Hakin says he wants to take the time to learn more about the university community. 

“I want to get to know our people, what they aspire to, and what drives them. StFX has excellent faculty and excellent staff, who together, are clearly very invested in their university. I look forward to listening very carefully to what they have to say and learning from those who live and breathe the StFX culture. Working with the community to reach a desired future will require a detailed understanding of where we currently are, our strengths and also our challenges” said Dr. Hakin.  

“Ongoing, it’s ensuring that StFX University and its reputation remains strong, that the university is viewed as progressive and vital without comprising the Xaverian experience to better attract for future generations of students who are destined to be the future leaders of our country and beyond.”



“I feel incredibly proud to be part of this great university,” he said. 

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