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St. President Kent MacDonald congratulates former university professor and administrator John Sears, an Antigonish native, who has been honoured with his name being connected with a new teaching and research chair the Dr. John T. Sears Chair in Corporate Social Responsibility. Also taking part in the announcement ceremony were Schwartz School of Business Dean Tim Hynes (left) and John and Adrienne Peacock, alumnus who made the $3 million donation to establish the chair. Richard MacKenzie

Antigonish native John Sears, the popular and well known former St. professor and administrator, was honoured Dec. 13 when a $3 million endowment to establish a teaching and research chair in the field of corporate social responsibility, was named for him.

“John T. Sears is a name synonymous with St. for more than 50 years and now, it’s one that is part of the very fabric of the university itself,” a release from the university stated.

“St. is announcing the Dr. John T. Sears Chair in Corporate Social Responsibility, a new academic chair honoring the achievements of a distinguished alumnus, admired professor, respected administrator, community leader and mentor to many. (Class of 1963), with John being a former student of Sears.

John spoke at the announcement ceremony and noted, while he and his wife were thinking about ways to give back to their university, the opportunity to honour his former professor made the timing ideal.

“This seemed to be the right time and honouring Dr. Sears was really part of our thinking,” he said to the audience gathered in the Schwartz School of Business auditorium.

“When I think of my learning experience, there is one clear, stand out professor who made the greatest impression on me and, as you might have guessed, that gentleman was Johnny Sears.

“For starters, he was a very good teacher. His classes were interesting, and he knew how to get students involved in the subject, and I took several courses from him.

“Our classes were small so he knew each one of us and, I expect, he got the best out of us.

“He was also a pretty impressive guy; young 30s, recent graduate from the University of Detroit with an MBA, working on his PhD from Harvard what not to be impressed by.”

Peacock noted their connection continued after his days at St.

“While I thoroughly enjoyed him as my professor, I was fortunate to have contact with him at various points in my business career and I stayed in touch with what he was doing and he seemed to know what I was up to,” he said. “All that is to say; I feel a very personal bond with Dr. Sears which makes this occasion very significant and special.”

He talked more about his appreciation with reporters following the ceremony.

“I can’t tell you how much I remembered and respected Dr. Sears,” he said.

“It was a long time ago but my memory is totally clear as to the enjoyment I had being his student. We, fortunately, from time to time, stayed in touch over the years. I have great respect and admiration for the man, so when I heard of this I said, ‘this would be perfect’ and here we are.”

Peacock emphasized they’re not giving but “giving back.”

“St. and Dr. Sears have helped shape our lives for the better and it’s our fervent wish that the future holders of this chair will do honour to the gentleman for whom it’s named,” he said.

Sears’ son Mark spoke on behalf of his father, and their family, during the ceremony.

“He is a St. man, through and through; he has St. ties, sweatshirts, socks, hats and he wears them all the time,” Sears said to start his, at times, humourous, and throughout, heartfelt words.

“He has put a lot into St. over the years and it’s nice to see him being recognized today.”

In talking after the ceremony, Sears said his father “loved being around the students and education.”

The elder Sears’ numerous community involvement activities were also noted, such as being board chair for St. Martha’s Regional Hospital. His son talked about him being instrumental in the development of a new hospital.

“He was certainly involved in a lot of community based initiatives,” he said.

“That’s the wonder of being in our profession; we have days of frustration, our faculty members would tell us that, but you are never quite sure of the impact you’ll have and, all these years later, we’re seeing it come full circle,” MacDonald said.

“This is a significant gift and not only from a financial point of view, but also the fact you have looked to the past, to our history and the people who have made the university,” he added, addressing the Peacocks specifically.

“On behalf of the faculty, the staff, our board of governors, and to the young people who haven’t even stepped foot on our campus yet, who will benefit from this wonderful gift, I can’t thank you enough.”
womens dr martens shoes chair honours John Sears