Tompkins Institute


Founded by Dr. Greg MacLeod in 1973, Cape Breton University’s Tompkins Institute leads applied research demonstration projects and offers continuing education in community leadership and community regeneration.

The Institute is named after Dr. Jimmy Tompkins (1870-1953), one of Cape Breton’s leaders in adult education and community enterprise. An activist priest and scholar, Dr. Tompkins championed inter-faith social action, giving rise to dozens of co-operatives, housing projects, credit unions, public libraries, and proposals for major changes in public policies. His work and the work of his contemporaries has been studied around the world.

Current Director

Dr. Greg MacLeod died on May 3, 2017, leaving an impressive legacy of thought and achievement.

His successor as director the Tompkins Institute is Dr. Tom Urbaniak, CBU Professor of Political Science. Dr. Urbaniak is Past Chair of the National Trust for Canada and the author of five books. He has led many non-profit organizations. He has been active in crime prevention, child welfare, public libraries, neighbourhood regeneration, affordable housing, and as a leader in the Polish Canadian community. He is a frequent media analyst on public policy.

Dr. Urbaniak works extensively with community organizations and faith communities. Among other services, he facilitates tailored workshops to help organizations renew themselves, govern themselves effectively, and realize their full potential.

Tom can be reached at tom_urbaniak@cbu.caor 902-563-1226.

Ongoing Tompkins Institute Initiatives

  • PUBLICATION/CITIZEN’S READER: In February 2018, Tom Urbaniak’s book Dignity, Democracy, Development: A Citizen’s Readerwas released. It is the first book in the Tompkins Institute series, in collaboration with Breton Books. The book can be ordered through the major on-line book-sellers.
  • CONTINUING-EDUCATION COURSES: In the winter of 2018, the course “Leading Community Organizations” was offered to the community (cross-listed with Political Science). In the fall of 2018, the Tompkins Institute is planning a continuing-education course in University Governance. Members of the community can enroll free of charge or pay $40 for a certificate-of-participation option.
  • REGENERATING PLACES OF FAITH.The Tompkins Institute leads community-development workshops for faith communities upon request, recognizing their role as local anchors. We are also collaborating with the national organization Faith and the Common Good to sponsor detailed “green audits” (cost-saving and sustainability recommendations) for faith communities in collaboration with the national organization Faith and the Common Good.
  • FACILITATED PLANNING EXERCISES: The Tompkins Institute recently facilitated planning workshops on the future of the Lyceum Heritage Building, on Red Brick Row in Sydney Mines, including a mural project involving Sydney Mines Middle School, and is working with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality to facilitate a workshop on the municipal role in economic development.
  • APPLIED RESEARCH PROJECT ON INVESTMENT AND SOCIAL ENTERPRISE IN AFFORDABLE HOUSING– in collaboration with the Affordable Housing Renovation Partnership and the Sydney Architectural Conservation Society
  • TOMPKINS INSTITUTE SPEAKERS’ SERIES – to be announced shortly.