Dal News - 2013 year in review

A look back at the year that was

Ryan McNutt - January 7, 2014

Clockwise from upper left: President Florizone's installation, the Social Media Lab, Dean Boran's Fenwick rappel, Rhodes Scholar Michael Mackley. (Dal photography)

It was a year in which Dal bid farewell to one president, welcomed another, wrapped up the biggest fundraising campaign in its history, opened new buildings and launched new schools and programs.

So, yeah: 2013 had its share of big headlines here on Dal News.

But beneath those headlines were literally hundreds of stories on award-winning faculty, accomplished students, impressive community contributions and some fun features as well.

We published a total of 507 different stories on Dal News in 2013 and had a record number of visits to our site — more than 615,000. With support from Student Services and Athletics, as well as our student team and other contributors, our coverage ran the gamut from large to small, eventful to entertaining.

From presidents to big research


Obviously, a presidential transition is a rare event in Dal’s history, so the handover from number 10 (Tom Traves) to number 11 (Richard Florizone) was a big part of the university’s year. We sat down for a two-part “exit interview” with Dr. Traves and covered his goodbye events including a farewell dinner and community tea. Weeks later, we covered Dr. Florizone’s first day in office, published our in-depth feature story and helped kick off the 100 Days of Listening. In October, we were there as Dr. Florizone was formally installed as president, delivering his first major address to the Dal community in his new role.

The installation celebration also brought university leaders from around the world to campus, sharing their insights with the Dal community and helping cement and extend Dal’s global reach at the same time. (Look for a forthcoming feature exploring Dal’s relationships with those countries in more detail.) It was one of several times last year where we looked at the international side of Dal, from profiling a university mission to China to launching a new profile series called "Insights to Success," highlighting international voices in the Dal community.

Dr. Florizone wasn't the only notable newcomer on campus: we also profiled new Dean of Agriculture David Gray in August. The Agricultural Campus had a number of major events this year, from annual highlights like Open House and College Royal to a return visit from internationally renowned activist and animal expert Temple Grandin.

It was a big year for campus research and faculty stories too. Dalhousie launched the Institute for Big Data Analytics — the first of its kind in Canada — as well as the Children and Youth in Challenging Contexts Institute and the Social Media Lab. The groundbreaking Dalhousie Ocean Sciences Building opened its doors in June. Dal profs published headline-generating research on everything from binge eating, to greenhouse gases, to the changing ocean, to arctic camels. And there were big awards too: a 3M Teaching Fellow, two new Royal Society Fellows, as well as awards for innovation, Iraq War research and oceans activism.

Then there were the student successes: among them, the university’s 88th Rhodes Scholar, an impressive Next 36 team, and all the exceptional students celebrated at the annual Impact Awards, just to point out a few. The university also launched its first MOOC, a new course on Innovation, Canada's first Ocean Sciences undergrad degree and dozens of new minor programs for students. (For more on what's changing in the Dal classroom, check out the funded projects through the DALVision initiative.)

As for the Tigers, Dal's varisty teams brought home AUS championships in cross country, volleyball and track and field; there was also controversy, with the suspension of the women's hockey team at the start of the year. (The team is now back on the ice this fall.) 

We profiled a bunch of student societies on Dal News throughout the year in our new Student Life section and ended the year celebrating Dal as the top per-capita Movember fundraising school in Canada. (Astronaut Chris Hadfield will come to campus to share in that celebration sometime this year.)

Bold accomplishments


One of the year's biggest Dal announcements was that of the Fountain School of Performing Arts, which unites the Departments of Theatre and Music. It was announced with a $10-million donation from the Fountain Family in May and then officially named in October. The gift announcement came the same week as Dal’s Bold Ambitions campaign officially wrapped up, besting its goal and bringing in $280 million to support scholarships, academic programming, research, infrastructure and more. Some other big donor stories from the past year: RBC’s support for Dal’s Sustainability Leadership Certificate and Scotiabank’s donation to the student-led Ethics in Action program and the Scotiabank Ethical Leadership Award.

And we’d be remiss if we didn’t note some of the Dal community’s contributions to both the university and its surrounding community this past year: from Dentistry Dean Tom Boran scaling Fenwick Tower to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, to the iDLab's work with local businesses, to the School of Occupational Therapy’s Tanya Packer taking part in Halifax’s Chair-Leader campaign.

As for which stories were our most popular with readers, one stands head-and-shoulders above the rest: our look inside the new version of the myDal portal, which launched in late August. People kept returning to that story throughout the fall through search engines; it ended up with more than 13,000 total views. Two of the most popular stories related to North Korean prison escapee Shin Dong Hyuk, who came to campus after Dal students took up the charge of raising awareness of his cause. The rest are a mix of stories: pop culture, serious issues and, well, it wouldn’t be Dal without a popular story on parking, would it?


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