Colin Dodds reflects on his years-long relationship with China科林道兹谈与中国交流合作关系

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By Chris Muise

Dr. J. Colin Dodds has experienced a lot of firsts up to and including his tenure as president of Saint Mary’s University. He was first made a member of the faculty in September of 1982. His first day on the job as the departmental chair of Finance and Management Sciences and the M.B.A. Director in 1984. His first day as Dean of the Sobey School of Business in 1987, first day as V.P. Academic and Research in 1991, and finally, his first day as the President of SMU in 2000.

Now, in 2015, as his tenure as president comes to a close, he’s starting to experience the flip-side of all those many firsts.

“It’s bittersweet. There’s a lot of ‘lasts,’” says Dr. Dodds, who was preparing for his final convocation ceremony as president at the time of this interview. “Every week, there’s a ‘last’ of some sort.”

Dr. Dodds has accomplished many great things during his 33-year run at Saint Mary’s, and during his 15-year run as president, to the point that it almost does him a disservice to devote an article to just one facet of his distinguished career.

But when Dakai Maritimes recently sat down with Dr. Dodds, just a few days shy of the end of the academic year, and a month prior to his last day in office, one of the aspects of that career we discussed with him was something that began with another one of his many firsts – his first trip to China.

“My first trip was into a place called Xiamen, which is in Fujian province,” says Dr. Dodds. “We have a linkage there through our Confucius Institute.”

Saint Mary’s today is known for its large Chinese student population, and while Saint Mary’s interest in the East dates back to the late 1970s with their Asian Studies program, that is thanks in part to the partnerships and linkages Dr. Dodds has helped to foster overseas, with the guidance and support of Bill Bu, SMU alum and Hong Kong-Canada Business Association Atlantic Section president.

One of the strongest linkages is SMU’s relationship with their sister school, Beijing Normal University in Zhuhai.

“Bill took me to Zhuhai back in the middle ’90s. There wasn’t a single university in Zhuhai at that point,” says Dr. Dodds. Over the last 12 years, under Dr. Dodds’ presidency, Saint Mary’s has been fostering the growth of the Zhuhai campus, both by bringing their faculty here, and in creating a 2-and-2 program that lets their students of commerce study their last two years here. “Bill invited groups over from Zhuhai, groups of business people, for orientations here. Bit by bit, we built the linkage.”

And that linkage is only growing. Next year, Saint Mary’s will start offering their 2-and-2 program full-time at Zhuhai as well – they’re sending some of their teachers there to teach full-time.

One of the reasons Dr. Dodds has been so proactive in fostering a strong link between Saint Mary’s and China is because he truly believes in the university’s mission – to help create citizens of the world.

“The vision for Saint Mary’s is for our students to be citizens of the world,” says Dr. Dodds. “For our Nova Scotia students, or students from other parts of Canada, if they don’t have the opportunity to study abroad…they at least get the chance to meet students from other parts of the world, here on campus. I think that helps civil society. I think it helps build relationships with Canada and different countries – in this case, China.”

Dr. Dodds also believes that, with Nova Scotia facing an aging demographic, retention of bright young minds is vital to the future of this province, and that includes the international students that come to study at Saint Mary’s, from China or from any one of the over 100 nations that SMU students represent.

“What better than students that have studied here that have got Canadian credentials – e.g. a Saint Mary’s degree – and they want to stay, and they want to put their roots down,” says Dr. Dodds. “Quite a few of our Chinese students actually do stay.”

While Dr. Dodds has experienced a lot of lasts coming up to the end of his presidency, he is making sure that Saint Mary’s connection and partnership with China is not going to be a last for the university anytime soon.

“There’s no point leaving something, having nobody behind you,” says Dr. Dodds. “We have people who are committed to keeping that going. The new president has indicated that what attracted him to come in the first place was the internationalization.”

It may not even be a last for Dr. Dodds, who will be returning to teach at the Sobey School of Business nest year. In fact, if discussions about managing the new program out there carry weight, a new chapter in his story with China may be one of his new firsts.

“If I do that, I’ll be going to China to recruit,” says Dr. Dodds, who will be returning to Xiamen at the time of this writing.



“这是一种苦乐参半的感觉。因为我要面对的是很多‘最后一次’,” 道兹教授接受我们采访的时候,正在准备出席圣玛丽大学的毕业典礼。这也将是他最后一次以校长的身份出席毕业典礼。“每一周,我都要经历一些‘最后一次’。”

道兹教授在圣玛丽大学任职33年;其中,任校长职务 15年。这一篇文章的长度和份量,远不足以描述他卓越的职业生涯。








“圣玛丽大学的使命是培养我们的学生成为世界的公民。” 道兹教授说:“如果我们新斯科舍省和加拿大其他地区的学生没有出国留学的机会,那么至少要在校园里有与来自世界其它国家学生交流的机会。这种机会将促进社会的发展,同时也将增进加拿大与国际间的关系,比如中国。”


“有谁能比这些在加拿大受过高等教育的学生更合适留下来呢? 比如这些从圣玛丽毕业的学生,他们想要留在本省安家置业。” 道兹教授说:“现在,毕业后选择留在本省的留学生越来越多。”





About Dakai Maritimes

Halifax's English-Mandarin newspaper catered to Maritime Canadian and Chinese residents as well as business and leisure Chinese visitors to Maritime Canada. Dakai Maritimes publishes 4 times a year in Halifax Regional Municipality.

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