Inaugural Lecture Marks 50 Years of Academic Excellence

Cape Breton University’s 50th Anniversary is officially underway! From humble beginnings as the College of Cape Breton (CCB), including Xavier Junior College, Xavier College, the Nova Scotia Eastern Institute of Technology (NSEIT) and the University College of Cape Breton (UCCB), CBU has grown and evolved into the vibrant institution we are today.

CBU kicked off the anniversary year with a historic Inaugural Lecture at the Boardmore Playhouse on January 23, 2024. The event, the first in a series of festivities planned throughout the year, set the tone for a reflection on the past, celebration of the present and anticipation of the future for the next 50 years and beyond.

This unique and historic celebration is a tribute to 50 years of academic excellence at CBU, inspired by Dr. Donald F. Arseneau’s first Inaugural Lecture, “Xavier Traditions,” in 1974. This lecture marked a significant turning point for the College of Cape Breton, when the Sydney Campus of St. Francis Xavier University (Xavier College) and NSEIT were combined into a single post-secondary institution under an autonomous Board of Governors. This rich history of CBU is a symbol of the thriving Unama’ki – Cape Breton that has placed trust in post-secondary education on the Island.

Highlights of the day included a commemorative photo in the Great Hall where faculty and members of the academic community dressed in regalia in the spirit of this momentous occasion. The Inaugural Lecture was emceed by Catherine Arseneau, Dean, Library and Cultural Resources, and also daughter of Dr. Arseneau.

L-R: Dr. Stephanie MacQuarrie; President and Vice-Chancellor, David C. Dingwall; Dr. Felix Odartey-Wellington; Catherine Arseneau; Paul MacDougall; Dr. Mary Beth Doucette.

During the lecture, Paul MacDougall, Senior Instructor II in Health Sciences, School of Education and Health, shared the history of the Institution and his profound connection with CCB, spanning from his early days as a grade twelve student researching at the Beaton Institute to his impactful 25-year career at UCCB and CBU.

Dr. Felix Odartey-Wellington, Associate Professor of Communication, School of Arts and Social Sciences, emphasized CBU’s commitment to academic citizenship through its world-class globally-conscious education, economic contributions, research excellence and Indigenous post-secondary education on the Island. In the spirit of Ghana’s declaration of Independence in 1957, Dr. Odartey-Wellington offered, “The growth of CBU is meaningless unless it is linked to the total growth of Cape Breton.”

Dr. Stephanie MacQuarrie, Dean, School of Science and Technology, invited students to share their visions for CBU in 2074, as the University prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary. Dr. MacQuarrie remarked, “The generation of amazing people we are teaching now have incredible confidence and faith in CBU and everything is built upon. It is our responsibility to live up to their expectations and I am excited that at least for the next 20 more years, I get to be a part of that growth.”

Dr. Mary Beth Doucette, Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies and Associate Professor, Shannon School of Business, gave a response to the three mini-lectures and invited the audience to reflect on the people and stories of the past that are told today; think about our role in the story of CBU as we combine traditions and new ideas physically, academically and spiritually; and imagine the future of CBU.

As we move forward into the year, this Inaugural Lecture serves as a compass, guiding us through the celebratory milestones that lie ahead and celebrating “Our Past. Our Story. Our Future.” We invite the community to join in the year-long celebration of our 50th anniversary.

To stay up to date on all the exciting events and initiatives planned for CBU’s 50th anniversary, visit

Check out the video recording and photos from the Inaugural Lecture.