5.0 Infrastructure and support

Build our institutional capacities

Dalhousie carries out its mission using a diverse set of buildings, property and other infrastructure across five campuses. That infrastructure represents the biggest asset managed by the university, and the funds for renewal, replacement or expansion of major elements of that asset must be managed strategically in order to efficiently and effectively support the university’s mission.

5.1 Develop a human resource strategy that allows us to attract, support, and reward the best faculty and staff

PROJECT LEAD: Jasmine Walsh, AVP Human Resources
(June 2018): • 95% of first-choice candidates recruited in 2016/2017
• Establishment of recruitment metrics to support evidence-based decision-making with respect to workforce planning, recruitment and retention
• Creation of the Talent Pathways Program, addressing employment and systemic barriers and providing opportunities for new and existing talent to grow their careers at Dalhousie
• Evolution of leadership development programming, establishing Dalhousie as a leader in leadership development
• Evolution of Work Well Strategy and other related initiatives, establishing Dalhousie as a leader in organizational health and wellness

Read more about priority 5.1

INFLUENCING: 2.2, 3.1, 4.2, 4.3, 5.2, 5.7


People are the cornerstone of any institution, but particularly at a university. Our ability to fulfill our mission depends critically on our ability to attract, develop, reward and retain the best faculty and staff.

Our annual workplace survey and the 100 Days consultation indicate a number of strengths Dalhousie has as an employer. These include satisfaction with our overall compensation and benefits and people feeling they are treated fairly by chairs or supervisors. The greatest areas for improvement include more regular performance feedback between staff and supervisors and creating opportunities for employee recognition and career development.

The 100 Days consultations identified other areas of concern and desire for potential improvement, including faculty/administration relationships, faculty renewal, status of grant-paid employees and input on compensation and benefits packages. This feedback should continue to guide the efforts of senior administration and the central Human Resources unit as we work to develop a stronger workplace.


  1. Develop strategies and mechanisms to recruit at least 85% of first choice candidates.
  2. Implement a performance development plan by 2017.
  3. Develop a leadership development program to identify future leaders and align with institutional needs.
  4. Increase promotion of internal candidates for leadership roles by 2018 with a particular focus on promoting qualified candidates from under-represented groups designated by Dalhousie’s Employment Equity Policy.

Download the charter [PDF-135kB]


5.2 Foster a collegial culture grounded in diversity and inclusiveness

PROJECT LEAD: Jasmine Walsh, AVP Human Resources
(June 2018): • Dalhousie’s Diversity and Inclusiveness Strategy focuses on four primary pillars of campus activity:
1. Climate and Intergroup Relations
2. Student Access and Success
3. Education and Research
4. Structures – Institutional Viability and Vitality.
Highlights from the first year of implementation include:
• Climate and Intergroup Relations: IDEA Building Mi’kmaq and African Nova Scotian Art Installation anticipated to be complete in 2018; Funding secured to increase representation of peer wellness mentors of African descent
• Student Access and Success: Two new outreach/liaison roles for the Indigenous Student Centre and Black Student Advising Centre; Equity, diversity and inclusiveness training to Student Affairs senior leadership team
• Education and Research: New Research Fellowship for Pre-tenure Faculty Members of Equity Seeking Groups; Arrangement with CBU to deliver a special section of Level I Conversational Mi’kmaq for Non-speakers language course to Dal students
• Structures - Institutional Viability and Vitality: Talent Pathways Advisor commenced work; Update of equity policy to include Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI); New Sexual Assault Response protocol; New Complaint Triage and Response protocol; Pay equity analysis and compensation for professors completed, resulting in pay equity compensation for women professors; Integration of employment equity planning into institutional multi-year planning has commenced and an online equity dashboard is complete to assist leaders with equity planning; “Guidelines for Creating and Maintaining an Inclusive Classroom” available on the CLT website
• Development of high-level metrics to evaluate success of Diversity and Inclusiveness Strategy: Work is in progress to develop key performance indicators (KPIs) aligned with the Diversity and Inclusiveness Strategy; first campus-wide progress report on the Diversity and Inclusiveness Strategy was published in Winter 2018
• The third annual Be Counted Census was completed November 2017 with employee response rate similar to last year’s at 88% with no significant change in response rates within employee groups
• Representation of racially visible persons and Indigenous persons continued to improve, with overall representation of racially visible persons among Dalhousie’s full-time and permanent part-time faculty and staff increasing and gaps in comparison to the labour market dropping from -100 in 2015 to -54 in 2016 to -45 in 2017. Representation of Indigenous employees has shown a similarly favourable trend with labour market gaps declining from -25 in 2015 to -11 in 2016 to near full representation (gap of -1) in 2017
• Women remain fully represented overall; representation of women in faculty positions improved significantly and as a result labour market gaps declined from -11 in 2016 to full representation in 2017
• Persons with Disabilities also remain fully represented in 2017; however significant gaps still exist in skilled crafts and trades, clerical and intermediate sales and services occupational groups
• Representation of self-identified LGBTQ remained stable at approximately 4%

Read more about priority 5.2

INFLUENCING: Overriding links with all strategic initiatives, particularly 5.1 and 2.2


Inclusiveness and diversity are inherent in Dalhousie's founding values. However, we recognize that no one action is sufficient and that there is not some moment in time at which we will be able to cease our efforts to foster a culture grounded in diversity and inclusiveness.

Dalhousie seeks to develop and nurture diversity among faculty, staff and students. These efforts are reflected in ensuring principles of equity and inclusion are integral in recruitment efforts, hiring practices and day-to-day interactions. Likewise, there are many university policies, guidelines, campaigns and partnerships aimed at contributing to the creation of a diverse and inclusive environment and correcting historic disadvantage to ensure that Dalhousie is a community reflective of current Nova Scotian and Canadian society. Communicating these policies, programs and initiatives on diversity and inclusion at Dalhousie is an ongoing effort in a complex environment.


  1. Develop a Diversity Strategy for faculty, staff and students at Dalhousie University.
  2. Track and advance progress on recommendations from the following reports:
    • belong: Supporting an Inclusive and Diverse University
    • The National Truth and Reconciliation Report
    • Report of the Task Force on Misogyny, Sexism and Homophobia in Dalhousie University Faculty of Dentistry
    • Report from the Restorative Justice Process at the Dalhousie University Faculty of Dentistry
    • A Report from the Committee on Aboriginal and Black/African Canadian Student Access and Retention: A Focus on Financial support



5.3 Develop a multi-year, integrated budget

EXECUTIVE SPONSOR: Provost & VP Academic (VP Finance & Admin)
Susan Spence, Vice-Provost Planning & Susan Robertson, Acting AVP Financial Services
(June 2018): • Multi-year Integrated Planning now allows better focus on institutional needs as follows: Aligns resources to mission and strategic priorities; Aligns Faculty academic plans with human, financial, facilities and technology resources; Provides Budget Advisory Committee with Faculty and Unit budget opportunities and issues to inform its recommendations; Facilitates information flow for effective planning between Faculties and Units

Read more about priority 5.3

INFLUENCED BY: 5.4, 5.5, 5.6
INFLUENCING: 1.4, 1.5, 2.2, 2.3, 2.5, 5.5


Linkage among the university's academic plans (teaching & research), capital plans and the operating budget is essential to ensure alignment of strategic priorities with resources. An integrated budget is a core component in achieving Dalhousie's strategic objectives and fulfilling our mission of teaching, research and service.

The university anticipates a period of relatively flat enrolment. Securing revenue from government and other sources will continue to be challenging. Balancing the operating budget will require a careful examination of existing and potential revenue sources, as well as cost and productivity improvements.

An assessment of lessons learned and approaches taken by peer universities across Canada and abroad will provide important reference information.


  1. Develop a rolling 3-year integrated budget model that fully aligns with the university's Strategic Direction for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

Download the charter [PDF-137kB]


5.4 Reduce the deficit and stabilize the on-going cost of the pension plan

PROJECT LEAD: Jasmine Walsh, AVP Human Resources
(June 2018): •  Collaborative discussions with employee groups through Pension Advisory Commitee continue regarding changes to the Dalhousie University Staff Pension Plan that would yield a reduction in the amount and/or volatility of contributions

Read more about priority 5.4



In light of changing demographics, defined benefit pension plans nationwide are facing financial challenges that could worsen in the years ahead. Faculty and staff value Dalhousie's defined benefit pension plan and many also expressed concern about its financial sustainability. The Valuation of the plan as at March 31, 2014 reports a going concern deficit of $68 million (2013 - $84 million). Dalhousie's administration has committed to working with the university's employee groups in a transparent way to ensure that the pension plan is financially stable and sustainable.


  1. Develop recommended plan revisions with the Joint Pension Committee that will reduce the deficit and stabilize the on-going cost to the university of the pension plan by 2018.

Download the charter [PDF-137kB]




5.5/5.6 Enhance our infrastructure with a multiyear capital plan that promotes environmentally sustainable development / Improve the quality and inventory of research and teaching spaces

PROJECT LEAD: Peter Coutts, Assistant Vice-President Facilities Management and Susan Spence, Vice-Provost Planning
(June 2018):
Major projects to be completed in 2018:
• Dentistry Clinic renovations ($26M) January 2018
• AC Learning Commons ($2M) May 2018
• Tupper energy performance contract ($13M) May 2018
• Fitness Centre project ($23M) June 2018
• AC biomass plant renewal project ($24M) June 2018
• AC Ruminant Animal Centre ($2.8M) Fall 2018
• Strategic Investment Fund IDEA Projects ($64M) nearing completion: IDEA Emera Innovation Hub; IDEA Design Building; Advanced Manufacturing and Ocean Engineering Hubs in C and C1 Buildings; Clean Technology Hub in F & P Buildings; D Building envelope renewal; Related projects – Green Corridor, Collider, Tech and Imhotep
• Multi-year Capital Management Plan started in 2017 will be complete in June 2018
Major projects starting in 2018:
• Fountain School of Performing Arts facilities project 2020
• Halifax Thermal Plant Renewal Project 2021
• Accessibility audits per Nova Scotia Accessibility Act to start Summer 2018
Teaching and Learning Spaces
• $2.8M upgrades to teaching and learning spaces and AV equipment, including renovating Room HA19 in Architecture and Planning building and combining Classroom 304 and 305 at Law Building
Student Experience
• $2.7M completed in washroom renovations in residences
• $4.2M upgrades and renovation to research labs and equipment, including $1.5M renewing greenhouse envelope, $750k spent to date on Steele Ocean Sciences Building, $191k in Life Sciences Centre and $130k in Forrest Building

Read more about priority 5.5/5.6

(5.5) INFLUENCED BY: 5.3, 5.6
(5.5) INFLUENCING: 1.4, 2.5, 4.5, 5.3

(5.6) INFLUENCED BY: 1.1, 2.5, 5.3, 5.5
(5.6) INFLUENCING: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.5, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 3.1, 4.2, 4.3, 5.3, 5.5


The university's infrastructure represents the largest asset managed by the university. The funds for operation, renewal, replacement or expansion of major elements of that asset must be managed strategically in order to efficiently and effectively support the university's mission.

Given the age and physical condition of our campus, and the need to provide a supportive environment for our academic mission, it is clear that Dalhousie will continue to make significant investments in physical and IT infrastructure in the years ahead. The challenge is defining the priorities and obtaining the financial support for them.

While the Campus Master Plan guides the university's long-term planning, a 5 to 10 year capital plan for buildings, grounds, heating and cooling systems, and IT infrastructure is required. The capital plan will align our academic and research priorities, fit within our financial realities and debt capacity policy and support our sustainbility objectives.


  1. Update the capital project program annually.
  2. Develop a draft multiyear capital plan in 2015 to be finalized by 2016-17.

Download the charter [PDF-135kB]


The University’s mission is centred on excellence in teaching and research. In order to enhance our teaching and research efforts, facilities must be developed and altered in an ongoing manner. This involves a complex interplay of multiple factors and interests that must be recognized and addressed in order to effectively manage and advance these resources priorities.

Teaching Space: Traditional teaching space is broadly the purview of the Classroom Planning Committee, with an ongoing Room Quality Index assessment process to provide a baseline of quality of teaching spaces. The incorporation of new and evolving concepts of teaching spaces is essential.

Student Learning Spaces: The physical environment has a strong influence on student learning. Outside of the formal teaching spaces, students require environments that promote reflection, discussion or group work, and provide informal gathering space where students can interact with other students and faculty.

Research Space: Research space is currently managed largely by Deans, who have the primary responsibility for the provision and management of the space. Funding is provided from a wide variety of sources, many of which are one-time in nature. Measures to better coordinate research activities and facilities are proposed in the Institutional Framework for the Support of Research which is the basis for Strategic Priority 2.5.

Standards, such as COU averages, are published for both research and teaching spaces in terms of quantity. Established quality standards are more difficult, particularly in the research area, although the Room Quality Index is useful for traditional teaching spaces.


  1. Improve teaching and student learning space quality and quantity to established standards by 2018.
  2. Improve research space quality and quantity to the standards established in the Institutional Framework for the Support of Research.

Download the charter [PDF-140kB]


5.7 Improve the effectiveness and efficiency of administrative and operational processes aligned with our academic mission

PROJECT LEAD: Margaret Sterns, Director Internal Audit Services
(June 2018): • Completed the Unit Assessment for the Office of Research Services
• Developed and tested Dalhousie’s Process Improvement Methodology (based on Lean and Change Acceleration Principles)
• Created internal expertise and built capacity for process improvement in Service units by training and coaching 77 employees (14 project sponsors, 18 project leads and 45 project team members) in the Dalhousie Process Improvement Methodology
• Enabled leaders/process owners to engage these employees in a meaningful way to improve service, facilitate co-operation between units, motivate and build momentum for positive change across Dalhousie for 8 process improvement projects that will reduce complexity, improve quality and increase speed to meet customer expectations

Read more about priority 5.7

INFLUENCING: 5.1, 5.3, 5.5


Dalhousie needs effective and cost efficient administrative and operational processes to support the core mission of teaching, research and service to students, faculty and staff.


  1. Establish cyclical and systemic reviews of administrative services.
  2. Improve “customer” satisfaction in service areas by 2018.

Download the charter [PDF-133kB]