Alexa McDonough is coming out of retirement to serve as interim president of Mount Saint Vincent University.
The former leader of the provincial and then federal NDP party stepped down from her Halifax riding in 2008, ending a 27-year political career. Reached at home Sunday afternoon as she was heading out to dinner with her two sons and seven grandchildren, including a one-week-old baby, McDonough said she wasn’t looking for a new career when the Mount approached her.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” she said, adding she admires the ambitions and operations of MSVU. It also gives her a chance to deepen a relationship that started half a century ago: the pioneering politician danced for the nuns of Mount Saint Vincent when she was 14.
“It’s not what a lot of people think of when they think of the Sisters of Charity,” she laughed. As a young ballet and “character” dancer, she often was part of performances for the sisters.
McDonough, 64, served as education critic for the federal NDP and worked at Dalhousie University before starting her career in politics. She also worked with the “Women in the House” program, which sent students to Ottawa to encourage women in politics. McDonough received an honorary degree from MSVU in May.
Janet MacMillan, chairwoman of the board of governors, said MSVU was “thrilled” to have McDonough on board.
“She’s a strong, recognized leader who’s had a long association with Mount Saint Vincent University,” MacMillan said. “She’s got a really good academic background — she’s taught at universities and understands the nature of universities.”
Outgoing president Kathryn Laurin is moving back to B.C. after three years at MSVU. It will take about a year to select a permanent replacement and McDonough will act as interim president from Aug. 28, 2009 until Aug. 2010.