Dal prof named STU president

Dawn Russell is a former dean of law

- March 28, 2011

Dawn Russell has been named president of St. Thomas University. (Bruce Bottomley Photo)
Dawn Russell has been named president of St. Thomas University. (Bruce Bottomley Photo)

Dalhousie’s loss is St. Thomas University in Fredericton’s gain.

Dawn Russell, the Purdy Crawford Chair in Business Law and former Dean at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie, has been named president of St. Thomas University, an undergraduate liberal arts university in New Brunswick.

“Dalhousie has been my academic home for the past 24 years and I consider most of the faculty and staff to be friends,” she said. “If I was a good dean here it was because I cared about the place and the people in it. And I think that will also help me to be a good president for St. Thomas.”

St. Thomas alumna

A native of Chatham Head, N.B. Prof. Russell earned a bachelor of arts in English literature and philosophy from St. Thomas, her law degree from Dalhousie, and a masters in international law from Cambridge University. Her expertise as a law professor is in the areas of international law and oceans law and policies, particularly on such topics as domestic fisheries management and the role of international fisheries organizations. While at Dal, she has taught business law, securities regulations, corporate governance, international law, and law of the sea.

She served as dean of law at Dalhousie for 10 years, from 1995 to 2005. After stepping down from the role, the law firm Stewart McKelvey named an award in her honour—the Dawn Russell Community Commitment Award. To be considered for the prize, students must demonstrate a commitment to public service throughout their law school career.

“After I stepped down as dean, other avenues were open to me from the bench to positions at other universities,” she said. “But I wanted to do more teaching and research. Now though, with my own children in university, I thought it was time to take on a new challenge.”

Liberal arts

She is a great believer of the value of a liberal arts education. “A liberal arts education teaches students to think critically, to enhance their oral and written communication skills. Skills such as these will equip students well for future careers. It will make them good citizens—and democracies today need citizens who can debate, critique and scrutinize, who can develop creative solutions to complex problems.

“A liberal arts education is the foundation for tomorrow’s leaders in almost every discipline, from teaching, the law, business and the environment.”

Prof. Russell assumes the presidency of St. Thomas for a five-year term starting July 1. Founded in 1910, St. Thomas University has an enrolment of 2,400 undergraduate students and 104 faculty members.


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