Announcing the Advisory Council for the UPEI School of Mathematical and Computational Sciences

Representing expertise from a number of fields including: finance, digital media, manufacturing, logistics, academia, and more
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
Peter Hayes, Pat Sinnott, Dr. Alaa Abd-El-Aziz, Jennifer Merserau, Alex MacBeath, Dr. Debbie MacLellan

Dr. Alaa Abd-El-Aziz, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Prince Edward Island, announced today the members of the Advisory Council for UPEI’s new School of Mathematical and Computational Sciences. The council brings together expertise from a number of fields to ensure the School offers one of the region’s most comprehensive undergraduate programs in mathematics, computer science, and statistics.

“The inaugural meeting of our Advisory Council is a significant milestone in the development of the UPEI School of Mathematical and Computational Sciences,” said Dr. Abd-El-Aziz. “It marks a historic moment in higher learning in Prince Edward Island and a new era of possibilities. On behalf of UPEI, I extend my gratitude to the Council members for lending support and expertise to the UPEI School of Mathematical and Computational Sciences.”

The UPEI School of Mathematical and Computational Sciences was created based on the growing need for university graduates to be educated in developing sophisticated mathematical and statistical techniques aligned with market needs, managing and extracting knowledge from unprecedented volumes of data, and integrating methods with powerful analytical software and technology tools.

The advisory council will:

  • advise the University President and leadership team on the current expectations of market sectors and mathematics, statistics, and computer science professions,
  • assist in anticipating, responding, and adapting to changing needs of related industry sectors and talent markets in a manner that enables the development and delivery of highly relevant educational programs and professionals, and
  • provide effective linkages with industry, government bodies, and leaders able to assist the University in meeting its goals in the context of strategic priorities and broader issues involving academic programs, teaching, research, and professional service.

The founding council members include:

  • Dr. Alaa Abd-El-Aziz, President and Vice-Chancellor, UPEI
  • Dr. Gordon MacDonald, Interim Associate Dean, UPEI School of Mathematical and Computational Sciences
  • Deirdre Beep Ayre, Head of Canadian Operations and Director, Other Ocean Group Canada Ltd.
  • Michael Bowick, Managing Director and Head of Global Markets, RBC Capital Markets (UPEI alumnus)
  • Dr. Ashok Chitkara, Chancellor, Chitkara University
  • Peter Hayes, Consulting Actuary and Principal, Eckler Ltd.
  • Alex MacBeath, Vice-Chair, Health PEI; Founding Partner, Island Entrepreneurship Fund (UPEI alumnus)
  • Jevon MacDonald, Ex-Co-Founder & CEO, GoInstant; Co-Founder, (UPEI alumnus)
  • Shannon MacDonald, Vice-Chair and Chief Inclusion Officer, Deloitte Canada (UPEI alumna)
  • Eric Mansour, Managing Director, Pension Investments, Scotiabank Group Treasury
  • Marie-Josée Martin, Vice-President, Actuarial, Medavie Blue Cross
  • Jennifer Mersereau, Founding Partner, Hamilton Capital Partners Inc. (UPEI alumna)
  • Chak Raghunathan, Entrepreneur
  • Dr. Lawrence Schembri, Deputy Governor, Bank of Canada
  • Jason Simac, Manager, Market Risk Oversight, BMO Financial Group (UPEI alumnus)
  • Pat Sinnott, Chair, UPEI Board of Governors (UPEI alumnus)
  • Dr. Lowell Sweet, Professor of Mathematics (retired), UPEI Board of Governors

The UPEI School of Mathematical and Computational Sciences was developed as a result of the UPEI Strategic Plan, which champions a shared vision of enabling our students to reach their full potential in both the classroom and the community. Through strong consultation and a commitment to programming that promotes high quality, real-world learning, UPEI has developed one of the most comprehensive mathematics, statistics, and computer science programs of its kind for Atlantic Canada.


Background Information
The Advisory Council for the UPEI School of Mathematical and Computational Sciences

Alaa Abd-El-Aziz, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Prince Edward Island; Co-Chair, UPEI School of Mathematical and Computational Sciences Advisory Council
Dr. Alaa Abd-El-Aziz assumed his responsibilities as the sixth president and vice-chancellor of the University of Prince Edward Island on July 1, 2011. In
this role, he has championed a highly collaborative strategic planning process to advance UPEI’s strategic direction and move the University forward in delivering on its vision of delivering outstanding experiential learning opportunities that encourage UPEI’s students to develop to their full potential in both the classroom and the community. This strategic direction has included the development of the UPEI School of Sustainable Design Engineering.

Currently the Vice-Chair of the Atlantic Association of Universities and a member of the Standing Committee on International Relations with the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, Dr. Abd-El-Aziz also serves on the Board of Directors of several organizations including the PEI BioAlliance, Holland College, and the Confederation Centre of the Arts.

Throughout his administrative career, Dr. Abd-El-Aziz has remained actively involved in chemistry, making significant contributions to research and teaching in his field of inorganic and organometallic polymers and materials. He has authored over 150 peer-reviewed articles in prestigious academic journals, one book, and ten book chapters; and edited 14 books. He is the editor of the Journal of Inorganic and Organometallic Polymers and Materials and is on the editorial board of six other journals related to his field of expertise. He has been invited to present lectures nationally and internationally, and has delivered over 160 presentations. During the course of his career, Dr. Abd-El-Aziz has secured research funding totalling over $10,000,000.

The University of Prince Edward Island is consistently ranked as one of Canada’s top primarily undergraduate universities, and offers a wide range of programs and degrees in arts, business, science, engineering, veterinary medicine, nursing, and education to more than 4,400 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students from over 60 countries.

Gordon MacDonald,
Interim Associate Dean, UPEI School of Mathematical and Computational Sciences;
Co-Chair, UPEI School of Mathematical and Computational Sciences Advisory Council
A native Maritimer, Dr. Gordon MacDonald received a BSc in Math (1984) from Dalhousie University and his Master of Mathematics (1985) and PhD in Mathematics (1989) from the University of Toronto. After post-doctoral positions at University of Waterloo, University of California at Berkeley, and Dalhousie University, Gordon returned to the Maritimes permanently when he joined UPEI in 1993.

Dr. MacDonald’s research interests are linear algebra and operator theory. He has published more than 40 research papers in this area and his research has been supported through the NSERC Discovery Grant program since 1994. Dr. MacDonald has also worked in mathematics education, serving on regional and national education committees and leading a number of initiatives in this area. Dr. MacDonald is currently a Full Professor and has received UPEI Award for Scholarly Achievement, the President’s Award of Merit for Service, and the Award for Excellence in Teaching at UPEI. Last year, he received the Association of Atlantic Universities Distinguished Teaching Award.

Dr. MacDonald has also served as Chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, a Member of the UPEI Senate and Board of Governors, Chair of Science Atlantic Mathematics and Statistics Committee, and as a Board Member and Vice-President of the Canadian Mathematical Society, among other service roles.

Deirdre Beep Ayre,
Head of Canadian Operations & Director, Other Ocean Group Canada Ltd.
Deirdre Beep Ayre has more than 25 years experience in the entertainment
and digital media industries. She has held positions in the area of business development with Newfoundland and Labrador’s Tourism Association, Industry Canada, and the Y Enterprise Centre. In 2006, Ms. Ayre took her place as Studio Head for Other Ocean Interactive after spearheading the establishment of its Prince Edward Island studio. In 2007, she oversaw the establishment of Other Ocean’s videogame testing and community management company, Sculpin
QA, followed by the establishment of Other Ocean’s second development studio in St John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. She is responsible for Canadian operations for the three companies. She is recognized for her commitment to economic diversification in Atlantic Canada, her collaborative efforts with educational institutions and government, and her success in recruiting talent to the region from around the world including, but not limited to, China, Indonesia, Brazil, India and the UK. Ms. Ayre is a member of the board of the Entertainment Software Association of Canada and is Vice-President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Interactive Media Alliance. She is on the advisory committee for PEI’s Entrepreneurial Launchpad Program and is an investor with the Conference Board of Canada’s Centre for Skills and Post Secondary Education. She has a BAA (Radio and Television) from Ryerson University.

Michael Bowick, Managing Director & Head, Global Markets, RBC Capital Markets; UPEI alumnus Michael Bowick is Head of the Global Markets Division of RBC Capital Markets. The Global Markets Division is where all of RBC CM’s sales, trading, and debt origination activity take place. Specifically, this division includes Global Fixed Income, Global Equities, Global Commodities, and Central Funding. Mr. Bowick is a member of the RBC Capital Markets Operating Committee and the Asset and Liability Committee of Royal Bank of Canada. Since joining RBC in 1986, Mr. Bowick has had experience in most major asset classes having begun his career in Foreign Exchange and then moving to Fixed Income and Fixed Income Derivatives and, more recently, gaining experience in Global Equities before assuming his current role as Head of Global Markets. Mr. Bowick is also active in the community, having fulfilled roles as Co-head of the RBC CM Diversity Leadership Committee and Chair of the RBC CM United Way Leadership Giving Campaign, as well as supporting many charitable organizations. Mr. Bowick holds an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from the University of Prince Edward Island and an MBA from Dalhousie University.

Ashok Chitkara,
Chancellor, Chitkara University (Chandigarh, India)
Dr. Ashok Chitkara obtained a BSc (Honours) Degree in Mathematics, and an MSc (Honours) Degree in Mathematics. He was the MSc topper of the University and was awarded a gold medal for the distinction from Delhi University. Dr. Chitkara went on to obtain a BEd degree, a MEd Degree, and a PhD—qualifications that chiseled him for a sterling career as a highly respected and much-loved teacher. Dr. Chitkara’s 31-year teaching career began in 1976 as a Post Graduate Teacher of mathematics at Kendriya Vidyalaya, Chandigarh. After receiving his PhD in Mathematics from Maharishi Dayanand University, Rohtak, he became a Reader of Mathematics at the Department of Evening Studies in Panjab University (PU), Chandigarh. He is a life-member of the Indian Mathematical Society, the Indian Science Congress Association, and the Indian Society for Technical Education. Dr. Chitkara has been an avid researcher in the fields of mathematics and logic and has authored, co-authored, and edited a number of books. He has contributed 25 research papers in various journals; written several reports; and delivered and invited papers and keynotes at seminars, symposiums, national conferences, universities, and research institutions.

Peter Hayes FSA, FCIA, Consulting Actuary, Principal, Eckler Ltd.
Peter Hayes is a consulting actuary and a Principal in Eckler Ltd.’s Halifax office. He graduated from Dalhousie University in 1981, qualified as a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries and the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (FSA, FCIA), and joined Eckler in 1996. Mr. Hayes consults to a wide range of public and private sector clients, with a primary focus on the design, funding, and investment of large-scale institutional pension and workers’ compensation programs.

Mr. Hayes has served extensively as a volunteer on professional committees with both the Society of Actuaries (SOA) and the Canadian Institute of Actuaries. In 2007-08, following nearly 20 years of progressively more responsible positions, he served as Chair of the SOA’s Education Committee, overseeing a group of 1,500 in the administration of education and examination initiatives leading to the accreditation of prospective actuaries.

In 2008, Mr. Hayes was appointed to a joint Presidential Task Force on Future Education Methods, liaising with representatives of both the CIA and the Casualty Actuarial Society, and in 2011 and 2012, to the SOA’s Nominating Committee. He recently completed two terms on the SOA’s Professional Development Committee and Transfer Knowledge Team, and currently serves as a member of the SOA’s Approvals Committee, vetting all executive-level appointments within the education system.

Mr. Hayes is a former Chair of the Canadian Pension and Benefits Institute’s (CPBI) Atlantic Regional Council, and a past member of the CPBI’s national Board of Directors. He is a frequent speaker at professional and industry conferences, particularly for the CPBI and the International Foundation for Employee Benefit Plans.

Alex MacBeath, Vice-Chair, Health PEI; Founding Partner, Island Entrepreneurship Fund;
UPEI alumnus
Alex MacBeath received his BSc from UPEI and his MBA from Dalhousie University. A member of the Canadian, Ontario, and Prince Edward Island Institutes of Chartered Accountants, he received his CA designation in 1979, and was awarded his FCA in 2003. He is a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors and holds his ICD.D designation through the Rotman School of Management. He has completed executive education programs at Harvard Business School, Oxford University, and Kellogg School of Business.

Mr. MacBeath was with Grant Thornton LLP for 35 years, 26 as partner. He was CEO and Executive Partner
of Grant Thornton LLP from 2001–2008. From 2008 until his retirement in 2012, he was Global Leader for Markets and Regional Leader for Asia Pacific at Grant Thornton International, based in London, UK. He has extensive experience in business strategy, risk management, national and international markets, and managing change in large and complex organizations.

Mr. MacBeath has been an elected and executive member of both the Grant Thornton International and Grant Thornton Canada Boards. He has extensive involvement with the boards of many for-profit companies and not-for- profit organizations as an accountant and as the CEO of a public accounting firm. He is currently Vice- Chair of Health PEI, founding partner of Island Entrepreneurship Fund, sector champion for UPEI Inspire Campaign, and director of Island Advance, the Medic Alert Foundation of Canada, and a number of other not-for-profit organizations.

Jevon MacDonald, Ex-Co-Founder & CEO, GoInstant Inc.; Co-Founder,; UPEI alumnus
Jevons MacDonald was the General Manager of and co-founder and CEO of GoInstant Inc., which was acquired by He’s the driving force behind Volta Labs, a not-for-profit startup house in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which provides world-class mentorship, education, support, and services to startups. He is also the co-founder of, founder and business developer of several software and services companies, and co-founder of Mr. MacDonald has been involved in multiple start-ups at various stages of growth and is an active angel investor. He has spent the last decade building high technology businesses as an entrepreneur and in senior roles at Dachis Corporation, Inc., the Renewal Consulting Group, and Argenus, Inc.

Shannon MacDonald, Vice Chair and Chief Inclusion Officer, Deloitte Canada; UPEI alumna
Shannon MacDonald enjoys working with private companies and governments as a Vice Chair at Deloitte. She leads the firm’s work with the Government of Ontario, sits on the Global Deloitte board, and is the firm’s Canadian Chief Inclusion Officer. She has been a member of the national Executive and Canadian Board of Deloitte. She has also served as the firm’s national health care leader. Her experience includes 26 years of public accounting and consulting services. Ms. MacDonald co-chairs a council on Inclusive Leadership for the Ontario Government and is a member of the Partnership Council on Employers of Persons with Disabilities for the Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure. Ms. MacDonald has a BBA from UPEI, a Chartered Accounting designation (CA, CPA), and a Masters of Health Science from University of Toronto. She has been recognized for two years as one of the Top 50 CEOs in Atlantic Canada and twice as one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women. She is also a Fellow Chartered Accountant.

Eric Mansour, Managing Director, Pension Assets, Scotiabank Group Treasury
Eric Mansour is Managing Director, Pension Investments at Scotiabank, based in Toronto. In this role, Mr. Mansour leads a team that manages the assets of the pension funds for Scotiabank employees. He has been with Scotiabank since 2002 and previously held the positions of Vice-President, Liquidity and Interest Rate Risk and Vice-President, Pension and Benefits. Prior to joining Scotiabank, Mr. Mansour spent eleven years as a consultant with Towers Perrin (now Willis Towers Watson) after graduating from Université Laval with his BSc in Actuarial Science.  Mr. Mansour is a fellow of both the Canadian Institute of Actuaries and Society of Actuaries and has completed the exam requirements for the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.

Marie-Josée Martin,
Vice President, Actuarial, Medavie Blue Cross
Marie-Josée Martin joined the senior management team at Medavie Blue Cross in 2014. She has successfully advanced her career through roles of increasing responsibility at Blue Cross Life over the past twenty-five years. Ms. Martin leads a team of dedicated individuals in ensuring appropriate reserve levels are set, investment policies provide optimal return, and capital is managed strategically. She also manages the actuarial team that supports both organizations. Ms. Martin has a Bachelor of Actuarial Science (Honours) from the University of Waterloo and fellowships from both the Society of Actuaries (US) and Canadian Institute of Actuaries.

Jennifer Mersereau, FSA, ACIA, CFA,
Founding Partner, Hamilton Capital Partners Inc; UPEI alumna Jennifer Mersereau is a founding partner of Hamilton Capital Partners Inc. (HCP), a Toronto-based financial services only asset manager. Ms. Mersereau co-manages the firm’s various investment funds, as well as helps oversee the firm’s broader operations. Prior to founding Hamilton Capital Partners Inc. in 2009, she assisted in the management of an internal long/short portfolio at National Bank Financial (NBF) and subsequently at NBC Alternative Investments (another subsidiary of National Bank of Canada), specializing in North American financial services equities. Before moving to the trading floor,

Ms. Mersereau spent three years as an Associate Analyst, Financial Services at NBF, assisting in the equity research coverage of the large-cap Canadian banks and life insurance companies. She began her career at Maritime Life Assurance Company (MLAC, the Canadian subsidiary of John Hancock Financial and now part of Manulife Financial), holding various roles of increasing responsibility in the Life Insurance New Product Pricing, Corporate Actuarial, and Investment Product Financial Management departments. Her experience included the pricing of life insurance products, the valuation of investment products, as well as integration and merger and acquisition assignments. Ms. Mersereau is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, an Associate of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries and a CFA charter holder. She has a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and a Diploma of Engineering, both from the University of Prince Edward Island.

Chak Raghunathan, Entrepreneur, Risk Management
Chak Raghunathan is a founder of a newly established asset management firm. He is the former managing director and global chief investments risk officer in which he was responsible for identifying and assessing investment risks in an evolving regulatory environment while developing strategies to address those risks. He is based in New York.

Previously, Mr. Raghunathan was global head of risk management and chief risk officer at Apollo Management, where he was responsible for implementing Apollo’s enterprise-wide risk management framework, formulating detailed risk policies and internal guidelines for funds, and providing optimal risk management solutions. Prior to his role at Apollo Management, he held positions of increasing responsibility at TD Bank Financial Group, most recently serving as senior vice president, global head of trading risk and quantitative analytics. He also held positions at the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Canada in the Capital Markets Division and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec in the Tactical Investments Group.

Mr. Raghunathan earned his bachelor’s degree in pure mathematics from the University of Madras and his master’s degree in applied mathematics at Concordia University.

Lawrence Schembri, Deputy Governor, Bank of Canada
Lawrence Schembri was appointed Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada
in 2013 to serve as one of two deputy governors responsible for overseeing the Bank’s activities to promote a stable and efficient financial system. In 2016, he became responsible for overseeing the Bank’s analysis of domestic economic developments. As a member of the Bank’s Governing Council, he shares responsibility for decisions with respect to monetary policy and financial system stability, and for setting the strategic direction of the Bank. Mr. Schembri received a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Toronto in 1979, an MSc in Economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1980, and a PhD
in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1985. Mr. Schembri served as assistant professor and, later, associate professor of economics at Carleton University until 2001. Mr. Schembri joined the Bank in 1997 as a visiting Research Adviser in the International Department. In 2001, he was appointed Research Director and later Chief of the department. In 2010, he was appointed Adviser to the Governor, with responsibilities focused on financial stability and on coordinating the Bank’s contribution to the Financial Stability Board (FSB). His published research has focused on exchange rate and monetary theory and policy in open economies, the international monetary system and financial stability.

Jason Simac,
Manager, Market Risk Oversight, BMO Financial Group; UPEI alumnus
After graduating from the University of Prince Edward Island in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science degree (major in Mathematics, minor in Economics), Jason Simac completed his Master of Mathematical Finance degree in 2009 at the University of Toronto. For more than six years, Mr. Simac has held three different roles in the Bank of Montreal’s Market Risk Management group. This group’s primary function is to monitor the market risk taken by the bank’s trading and underwriting portfolios arising from their participation in capital markets activity. Mr. Simac currently sits on the trading floor in BMO’s Toronto office and is responsible for ensuring that several trading desks operate within prescribed risk tolerances. He has also been heavily involved in carrying out stress tests for various regulatory bodies to prove the bank’s ability to survive through extreme hypothetical market environments.

Pat Sinnott,
Chair, UPEI Board of Governors; UPEI alumnus
Patrick Sinnott is an experienced supply chain management and technology executive, who served as an officer and as a member of the executive committee of Canadian Tire Corporation for 12 years, and in several leadership roles in supply chain and technology at Canadian Tire over a period of 20 years.

Prior to joining Canadian Tire, Mr. Sinnott spent 13 years in Ernst & Young’s manufacturing and logistics consulting practice and, during the last four of those years, was one of two partners leading Ernst & Young’s Canadian manufacturing and logistics practice.
Currently, he serves on the boards of directors of private and not-for-profit organizations.

Mr. Sinnott’s interests include the interdependencies between business, government and academe, supply chain strategy development, leveraging applied mathematics and technology to achieve superior supply chain performance, and implementing technologically-enabled process change.

With respect to the interdependencies between industry, government, and academe, he has contributed to all three areas by working on a variety of boards, councils, and associations, and by giving papers and presentations at selected policy forums, academic venues, and conferences.

Mr. Sinnott holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the University of Prince Edward Island and two master’s degrees from York University: one in Mathematics, and the other in Business Administration.

Dr. Lowell Sweet, 
Professor of Mathematics, UPEI (retired); UPEI Board of Governors
Dr. Lowell Sweet retired from teaching Mathematics at the University of
Prince Edward Island in 2010 following a career dating back to the time of the University’s establishment. An abstract mathematician who researched linear algebra theory, he specialized in new ways to multiply vectors with applications in physics and electrical and mechanical engineering. Dr. Sweet was a popular and talented professor; as one student noted: “he’s about as perfect as a calculus teacher can be!” Dr. Sweet continues to serve the University and its students as a mentor, scholarship donor, and member of the Board of Governors. Dr. Sweet holds a BSc (Mathematics and Physics) and MSc (Mathematics) from Acadia University, and a PhD in Mathematics from the University of Waterloo. 

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