Dr. Sean Riley was appointed President of St. Francis Xavier University on July 1, 1996. In announcing the appointment, the Board of Governors stressed Dr. Riley's demonstrated leadership in a career bridging the academy, government, finance, and business.
Dr. Riley graduated from StFX in 1974 with a Bachelor of Arts, Honours (First Class). He was awarded the Governor General's Gold Medal for highest academic standing at graduation. He was chosen by the student body as recipient of the Larkin Trophy as outstanding male student. As President of X-Project, a student and community outreach organization, he received the Marcel Lussier Award for community service. In 1974 Riley also was chosen StFX Male Athlete of the Year.
Selected as Rhodes Scholar for Nova Scotia in 1974 , he undertook graduate studies at Oxford University, obtaining a Master of Philosophy (International Relations) with specialization in European economic integration and strategic studies. With additional support from a Canada Council Doctoral Fellowship, he completed at Oxford University the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (International Relations) with research in the field of Canadian foreign policy.
Dr. Riley's professional career began as an extension of his academic specialization in Canadian foreign policy. From 1977 to 1984, with the exception of an absence for doctoral study, Dr. Riley served as a ministerial advisor on policy and legislative affairs in the Department of External Affairs, the Privy Council Office, and the Department of Finance.
Moving to the private sector in 1985, Dr. Riley joined the National Bank of Canada. As a manager in the Treasury, and later in North American Corporate Banking, he had responsibilities for treasury operations and corporate finance for clients in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver.
Between 1989 and 1996, Dr. Riley was managing shareholder, President and Chief Executive Officer of a medium-sized industrial company in Montreal, with operations across Canada and internationally, Belanger Laminates Inc.
Prior to returning to StFX, Dr. Riley served on the board of directors of several business associations as well as volunteer boards including the Montreal Youth Enterprise Center, the Montreal Metropolitan YMCA, and the Canadian Association of Rhodes Scholars.
Dr. Riley currently is a member of Atlantik-Brucke, an association of Canadian and German leaders from government, academic, and business sectors. Dr. Riley also serves on the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation, and on the Canadian International Development Agency selection panel for University Partnerships in Cooperation and Development (Tier 1). Dr. Riley is an active member of the Association of Atlantic Universities, the Atlantic Universities Athletic Association, and the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. Since 1996, he has made presentations to conferences in Berlin, Nanking, and Manila.
Dr. Riley was the 1998 recipient of the Lester B. Pearson Award from the CIAU. The citation for that award stated: "A university gold medalist, a Rhodes Scholar with a doctorate from Oxford University in International Relations, a member of Canadian delegations to G7 summits and international negotiations, a manager of money market and foreign exchange at a major Canadian bank, a fully bilingual entrepreneur and CEO of a manufacturing business in Montreal, a university President….Dr. Riley's career embodies the drive and professional flexibility so important to today's university students in a globalizing world."