Dal Alert!

Receive alerts from Dalhousie by text message.


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 2017): • 97% of first-choice candidates recruited in 2016/2017, up from 93.6% in 2015/2016
• Workplace Wellness (Work Well) strategy implemented; focused on improving faculty and staff total health and well-being as informed by results of 2015 Quality of Work Life Survey; resulting in targeted and expanded programming and supports including implementation of Thrive mental health initiative
• ACHIEVE streamlined process and tools training/implementation by Agricultural Campus and ITS
• New Leadership Programming sets the stage for improvements and additions to leadership development activity

Read more about priority 5.1

INFLUENCING: 2.2, 3.1, 4.2, 4.3, 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 policy on Employment Equity through Affirmative Action.

Download the charter [PDF-135kB]


5.2 Foster a collegial culture grounded in diversity and inclusiveness

PROJECT LEAD: Jasmine Walsh, AVP Human Resources and Michelle Williams, Senior Instructor Faculty of Law and Director Indigenous Blacks & Mi'kmaq

InitiativeSTATUS (June 2017): • Development and launch of Diversity and Inclusiveness Strategy
• Be Counted Census completed, with 88% of full-time and permanent part-time employees taking part; faculty response rate in DFA increased by 11.4%, in nonunion increased by 26.1%, in Medicine increased by 21.5% and in NSGEU non-faculty increased by 25.2%
• Be Counted Census shows that representation of racially visible employees increased from 8.3% to 11% and representation of Indigenous persons, persons with disabilities and self-identified LGBTQ showed moderate increases
• Be Counted Census labour market comparison and gap analysis shows that representation of women in middle management positions improved from -4.2 to full representation; representation of women in professorships declined from -8.5 to -11.4; representation of racially visible persons improved from -100.7 to -54; representation of Indigenous persons improved from -25.8 to -11.0; and gaps present in representation of persons with disabilities in clerical, trades and sales and service are still present
• Employment equity training provided to all senior admin and to academic and admin unit search committees
• Indigenous Student Centre expanded
• Mi’kmaq flag raised on Studley and Agricultural Campuses
• Marcus Garvey Pan-African flag raised to honour African Heritage Month
• Introduction of Graduation Regalia including medicine pouches at convocation for Indigenous graduates and kente sash for African Canadian graduates
• Under the university’s strategic initiative on diversity and inclusiveness, a Mace Re-Visioning committee has been struck to rethink and commission the university mace, currently used during Convocation and Induction ceremonies, with the competition process underway to find a symbol that will better reflect the true history of Nova Scotia and Dalhousie University and represent all members of the Dalhousie community
• Faculty of Medicine created an Indigenous Health Program aimed at recruitment and retention of Indigenous students in medicine
• Faculty of Law created a first-year course on Aboriginal and Indigenous Law aimed at responding directly to the TRC Calls to Action
• Faculty of Agriculture initiatives to improve connections with local First Nations communities and increase recruitment and retention of Aboriginal Students included hiring a full-time Manager, Aboriginal Students; connecting Community Education Officer to educational programming in First Nations communities; and establishing External Advisory Council to engage local leaders in campus programming
• Appointment of Student Ombudsperson

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 2017): • Faculties undertook second year of work to better integrate resource and strategic planning

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 2017): • Discussions with employee groups through Pension Advisory Commitee regarding changes to the Dalhousie University Staff Pension Plan that would yield a reducation in the amount and/or volatility of contributions
• Achieved a significant cost saving initiative to the Plan effective August 1, 2016 with an amendment that changed the Plan’s interest crediting rate to a GIC rate with agreement from employee groups
• Planning undertaken relating to collective bargaining with employee groups in 2017

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: Jeff Lamb, Assistant Vice-President Facilities Management and Susan Spence, Vice-Provost Planning
(June 2017): • Halifax Thermal Plant Renewal Project ($72M) received first level Board approval and schematic design is well underway
• Fountain School of Performing Arts Facilities Project ($28M) received first level Board approval and schematic design is underway
• Construction of 2 new buildings began on Sexton Campus: Design Building and Innovation Building, LEED Gold targeted ($32M)
• Advanced Manufacturing and Ocean Engineering Hubs in C and C1 Buildings ($8M) underway on Sexton Campus
• Clean Technology Hub in F & P Buildings ($16.6M) underway on Sexton Campus
• Sexton Campus D Building Envelop Renewal ($7.5M) underway
• Fitness Centre Project ($23M) under construction
• Tupper Energy Performance Contract ($13M) underway
• Agricultural Campus Thermal Plant Renewal Project change from $24M to $26M
• Dalhousie Student Union (DSU) Building addition and renovation is complete ($10.7M)
• Dentistry Building and Clinic $26M renewal Phases 1 & 2 complete; remaining phases to be complete by January 2018
• Tupper Medical Building Levels 1 and 2 renovation to library, teaching labs, multi-purpose rooms and offices is complete ($5M)
• A comprehensive capital plan including 5 categories of capital spending was produced for 2016/2017 for review by the Board’s Capital Project and Facilities Committee
Teaching and Learning Spaces
• $603k in upgrades and renovations to teaching and learning spaces and AV equipment, including renovating Room 4055 in Ken Rowe, creating a student study space in LMU and renovating Room 220 in LSC
Student Experience
• $2.7M upgrades and renovation to research labs and equipment, including a completed $1.6M renovation in LSRI

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 2017): • Partnered with the College of Continuing Education to develop and deliver role-specific, hands-on skills development training on process improvement
• Secured resources to implement the technological changes to improve graduate student funding process
• Implemented e-tendering

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]