Mulroney’s StFX homecoming brings big changes

By Lois Ann Dort    

ANTIGONISH – For a small university, StFX has always had a large national profile. The institution has churned out many national and provincial leaders, perhaps none more recognizable than the 18th Prime Minister of Canada, Brian Mulroney.

Last Wednesday Mulroney returned to his alma mater to make a much-anticipated announcement regarding the establishment of the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government at StFX. The Institute will be housed in the soon to be constructed Mulroney Hall; aiming to become the collective living room of StFX campus and depository of Mulroney artifacts as well as providing dynamic classrooms.

Fundraising for the $60 million project began four years ago spearheaded by Mulroney, former New Brunswick Premier Frank McKenna and Caroline Mulroney (Brian and Mila Mulroney’s daughter). The project will include $40 million for the new Mulroney Institute of Government to be housed in the new Mulroney Hall which will replace the existing Nicholson Hall, a number of new endowed chairs, and over 10 million for scholarships and bursaries.

Mulroney has been involved in many StFX projects since he graduated in 1959 with a degree in Political Science but the time has finally come for him to come out of the philanthropic shadows. When asked why he had decided to invest so much of his time and legacy at STtFX he replied, “My roots are here. This is where I was given a big opportunity in life and I never forgot it. I wanted to...give back to StFX which made a lot of things possible for me.”

The boy from Baie Comeau, as Mulroney has long referred to himself, came to StFX at the tender age of 16 in 1955. He became active in student politics shortly thereafter; taking part in Model Parliaments and leading relief efforts for Hungarian refugees coming to Canada.

Mulroney’s career has led him a long way from StFX but he always looks back fondly on his time at StFX and said, at the announcement on Wednesday, that it was the principals of Moses Coady, which he learned while at StFX, that directed him as leader of the country in the 1980s and 90s.

The demolition of Nicholson Hall is scheduled to begin in May 2017 with and estimated completion date for the new building in late 2018.