Cape Breton University Celebrates 10 Outstanding Years

The Presidency of H. John Harker (2003-2013)

Tonight, the Cape Breton University (CBU) Board of Governors and the University community said farewell to their President and Vice-Chancellor, H. John Harker and thanked him for his unwavering commitment and vigorous leadership over the past 10 years. It was an evening that celebrated the many significant milestones that CBU and its community have achieved during Dr. Harker’s time as president. Looking back on the past decade, it is apparent that Dr. Harker’s leadership focus has always been student centred. Staying true to this, the event raised, combined with contributions from the university as approved by the CBU Board of Governors, $125,000 toward the creation of two awards named in honour of him and his wife Eunice – the H. John Harker International Scholar Awards and The John and Eunice Harker Award for History & Social Justice.

The strength of Dr. Harker’s leadership was underscored throughout the evening with testimonials from various community representatives, family members and CBU faculty, staff, students and alumni as well as political leaders. Musical performances of cultural importance that uniquely reflect the presidency of Dr. Harker filled the room throughout the event.

 “I believe it is clear to the many Board members who have worked with Dr. Harker over this time span that he has championed initiatives of every magnitude with great passion and brought a broad and worldly perspective to our collaborative discussions and deliberations.  His desire to see CBU succeed cannot be questioned – and the results are readily visible for all to see.  This University has changed for the better thanks to Dr. Harker’s untiring efforts to take CBU to the world and the world to CBU.  His years of leadership have been transformative, leading this University to be seen as a viable contributor to the local and provincial economy. Dr. Harker faced all challenges head on, earned respect internally and externally, and worked tirelessly in the best interests of all that Cape Breton University represents,” says Dr. Hayes MacNeil, Chair, CBU Board of Governors.

John Harker’s years as President and Vice-Chancellor of Cape Breton University can be defined as progressive, challenging, student-focused, transformative, and successful.  Under his direction, CBU has experienced enhanced academic programming, a revitalized campus, a rejuvenated and diversified student body, and the University has solidified its international reputation as a noteworthy Canadian post-secondary institution. All of this has unfolded in a time when Nova Scotia’s post-secondary education sector has experienced great uncertainty.

A firm believer in sustaining culture and fostering innovation, Dr. Harker has consistently vocalized and acted on these beliefs throughout his time at CBU.  The Verschuren Centre opened in 2010, and since then it has become a valuable contributor to the energy and environmental sustainability sectors. Research and collaborative projects underway at CBU are helping to identify solutions to environmental issues that are global in scope. Unama’ki College was built on the 35 year history that CBU has in educating Aboriginal students. By working with Aboriginal community leaders, CBU has also created a model of education that has led the University to become Atlantic Canada’s leader in Aboriginal post-secondary education, with more than 500 Aboriginal gradates holding CBU degrees.  

The awards created in honour of Dr. Harker and his wife, Eunice, will ensure that their impact will long be felt at Cape Breton University as monies raised will continue to support students for decades to come. The Board of Governors created the H. John Harker International Scholar Awards were created in acknowledgement of Dr. Harker’s commitment to international students and in recognition of the dramatic increase in their enrolment during his time as President of CBU. It also symbolizes his dedication to the internationalization of and passion for CBU. The John and Eunice Harker Award for History & Social Justice, funded locally and nationally under the direction of George Unsworth, was created in acknowledgement of the Harkers’ strong belief in human rights, fairness and equality for all citizens. It also recognizes their dedication to sustaining tradition and preserving history and the belief that these areas play a most important role in creating future opportunities.

“We offer our gratitude to Dr. Harker and the gracious Eunice, for giving so generously of their time to countless University and community functions.   We wish them good health, much happiness and many adventures in the years to come,” says Dr. MacNeil.