Faces in the Crowd – Peak Performance

Posted on June 2, 2016 under Faces in the Crowd with one comment

Kent MacDonald 1

“I am just a caretaker. I feel compelled to honor the heritage of this institution.”

Meet Kent MacDonald

Although he claims New Glasgow as his childhood home, he is really an Antigonisher by birth; the grandson of Winnie and Dan Joe MacEachern. He was doubly blessed as his father’s family were originally from Judique. With this lineage, how could Kent not succeed.! He was also born with the “blue and white” coursing through his veins. Both his parents attended St. F.X., and from a very early age he made many pilgrimages with the family to watch every sport imaginable.

He grew up at a time when Pictou County was very prosperous. He enjoyed all of the benefits of small town living and was blessed that the family had a farm property in Little Harbour, a peaceful place to go over the years. He was an athletics enthusiast, playing competitive hockey and other intense sports including rugby. He was an avid skier and a regular on the slopes of Keppoch Mountain. And he was an accomplished swimmer, working as a lifeguard at beautiful Melmerby Beach.

Not unlike many students attending university for the first time, his freshman year at St. F.X.  was a matter of endurance.  “It was a question of breathing and learning how to survive.” He earned a B. Sc. in Physical Education which entitled him to a teacher’s license.

He and his future bride, Mary-Ellen, ventured off to New Zealand after graduation but, despite that country’s raw beauty, the urge to come back to Eastern Canada was too strong. “We’re going to Nova Scotia,” exhorted Kent. “We’re going to Ottawa”, said Mary -Ellen.  A short time later, Ottawa it was!

The years, miles and degrees piled up over time. And the MacDonald family grew with the arrival of four children. They were outdoors people who spent countless hours kayaking, hiking and climbing mountains. Kent and his two boys even scaled Mount Kilimanjaro.

Kent worked in both the public and private sectors. He completed his Ph. D. from the University of Pennsylvania.  His research involved finding out what high-performance universities do differently. This thirst for a definitive answer remains unslaked, and Kent has travelled the world trying to discover the secrets of greatness.

He arrived back home to a dream job as president of his beloved St .F.X. “This is a great opportunity, but it comes with great responsibility”, he says. “We hold these positions for fleeting moments of time. I take the job very seriously.” As a native of New Glasgow, when asked to state the biggest challenge of coming back to Antigonish, he quips, “Cheering for the Bulldogs. That might take some getting used to.”

He subscribes the mantra of the late Nelson Mandela who said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

And when the last mountain has been scaled, Kent would like to be remembered as someone who made a difference, to his family and to the many organizations and institutions who benefited from his leadership.

Those who know him well and understand his competitive nature can guarantee that he will deliver the goods.

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