James John Tompkins

James John Tompkins, Jimmy, priest, university administrator, pioneer in ADULT EDUCATION (b at Margaree, NS 7 Sept 1870; d at Antigonish, NS 5 May 1953).

Tompkins, James John

James John Tompkins, Jimmy, priest, university administrator, pioneer in ADULT EDUCATION (b at Margaree, NS 7 Sept 1870; d at Antigonish, NS 5 May 1953). A visionary, communicator and propagandist, Tompkins's most lasting contribution was his transformation of a university from an elitist institution to one open to all. After studying at St Francis Xavier in Halifax and Urban College, Rome, Tompkins was ordained in 1902 and returned to St Francis Xavier as an administrator at a time of great social change. Determined to help the "common man," in 1920 Tompkins published Knowledge for the People (1920), a blueprint for adult education, and in 1921 founded the People's School at the university. Banished to Canso, NS, in 1922 for supporting a plan to federate Maritime universities, Tompkins began his pastoral career. He publicized the plight of Maritime fishermen so effectively that a royal commission was established to investigate their situation. Later, in Reserve Mines, NS, he introduced a credit union, inspired the first co-operative housing project (Tompkinsville) and established one of the first regional libraries. He may justly be called the father of the ANTIGONISH MOVEMENT of adult education. Both Dalhousie (1919) and Harvard (1941) conferred honorary degrees on him.


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