4.0 Partnerships and reputation

Take our place nationally and internationally

Taking our place nationally and internationally requires that we foster strong partnerships, strengthen the recognition for our academic excellence and celebrate our distinctive attributes. By doing so, we will ensure that Dalhousie takes its place among the world’s top 200 universities, an accomplishment that will in turn allow us to continue to have a positive impact in our community, country and the world.

4.1 Foster and support key external partnerships and relationships with alumni, other universities, governments, businesses and NGOs

VP External

Assistant Vice-President Government Relations and Economic Development (Matt Hebb) and Assistant Vice-President, Alumni and External Engagement (Sheila Blair‐Reid) 

(June 2019): 

  • International partnerships: 52 new partnerships (including 24 renewals) in 25 countries; total of 252 active agreements in 2018/2019, slightly down from 253 in 2017/2018
  • Support for increased international learning experiences: With establishment of the Go Beyond Borders Bursary Program, Dalhousie has increased number of and support to student international learning experiences, with 140 students across 9 faculties pursuing international learning experiences in 25 countries

Alumni engagement:

  • 200th anniversary celebration provided opportunity to embark on significant alumni and external engagement initiatives, including:
    • Dal branded bus travelled 6,000 kms across Canada to celebrate with alumni and friends from Vancouver to St. John’s; served 2,000 lobster rolls and 1,700 donairs during East Coast-themed events, showcased 200th alumni video, and were greeted with Black and Gold proclamations, reminiscing guest alumni speakers and excited crowds; bus served as a travelling billboard for the university and the program allowed Dalhousie to tell stories of how Dal alumni are having a positive impact on the world; partnered with United Way to highlight alumni who contribute to their communities in Canada
    • Celebratory events held in Iqaluit, Hong Kong and Boston, with a highlight in London, U.K. where Lord Dalhousie joined the event at the High Commission of Canada
    • Concluded anniversary events with IGNITE, a sold-out evening with 1,200 guests to celebrate Dalhousie’s research, returns to society and alumni
    • Engagement initiatives coordinated across the university, with a variety of faculties and units collaborating, drew over 38,000 attendees
    • Social media impressions grew by 30%; #dal200 hashtag was used 6,395 times; paid/sponsored media generated 96M impressions; earned media generated 694 online media mentions, and 222 broadcast media mentions for a total reach of 240M; successfully secured sponsorships with key industry partners; total media sponsorship, including in-kind, reached the $1M mark
  • Homecoming included 5th President’s Fun Run which was the largest attended to date; Homecoming Football Game included an event to honour the “Decade Greats” (past football athletes of Dalhousie)
  • Invited alumni and donors to attend five building openings
  • Alumni made up a portion of the audience for the Bicentennial Launch and closing ceremony, with alumni representation from 7 decades
  • Dalhousie University: A 200th Anniversary Portrait keepsake book was published and presented to all graduates of 2018, with the support of affinity partners TD Insurance; initiative supported the student to alumni transition work
  • Each faculty hosted special events for their respective alumni and were well attended, including:
    • Faculty of Health’s Healthy Life Conference where the community worked out with fitness icon Shaun T
    • The Fountain School of Performing Arts presented Drums and Organs (or the Modern Frankenstein) to sold-out audiences
    • George Elliott Clark’s reading of an epic poem “The Story of Dalhousie” was enjoyed at several events including at City Hall
    • Opening of the Alumni Gardens at the Agricultural Campus
    • Virtual Lobby Exhibit celebrating women in computing at the Goldberg Computer Science Building drew over 250 visitors
    • The JD McLean Lecture in Dentistry with Dr. Paul Allison drew over 350 alumni
    • Law hosted the Best of Mini Law School Series
    • Management’s Ethics in Action Gala featuring the Honourable Romeo A. Dallaire drew over 280 attendees
    • 200th Circles, an artwork commissioned for Dal’s 200th brought Erik Demaine, Dal’s youngest-ever graduate and MIT professor to campus to unveil his sculpture
    • Alumni, donors and friends were invited to key events including Belong Forums and The Great Debate
    • Dalhousie Med celebrated their 150th anniversary with 1,200 guests at the Nova Centre
    • In Calgary, Aggies brought alumni together during the Calgary Stampede
    • Engineering and Athletics held golf tournaments to bring together alumni and friends
    • Dal participated in the Parade of Lights
    • Hosted 4th Annual International Student Holiday Dinner funded by alumni around the world
    • The Shaar Shalom Lecture featured Stephen Lewis and drew over 600 alumni and community members
    • Ask an Astronaut with David Saint-Jacques drew over 250 participants including many students from across Halifax
    • Agriculture hosted a unique farm-to-table dinner for alumni and a Dal 200th branded corn maze event
    • Dozens of IDEA Building tours were hosted
    • Partnered with TD and CGI on a Women in Tech panel
    • Many reunions across faculties were held with several announcing class projects in support of Dal
  • Building Dal Alumni Global Networks and have secured ambassadors across the country and internationally; alumni benefits program has been a tremendous success with over 3,000 cards requested
  • Launched Alumni Days in the spring, connecting alumni and community to Dal convocation celebrations; hosted events on timely subjects during this 4-day event to elevate the profile of Dal locally and globally

Read more about priority 4.1

INFLUENCED BY: 1.3, 2.1, 3.1, 4.2, 4.5
: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.5, 2.1, 2.5, 3.1, 3.3, 4.5


Public support, students, research and scholarly collaborations at home and abroad are critical to Dal's success. Dalhousie now receives funding from 237 distinct organizations, representing a rich array of public, private and non-profit partners from across Nova Scotia, Canada and the world.

Our alumni, current and prospective donors and all levels of governance are another critical source of support. They share our interest in strengthening Dalhousie and in making the world a better place.

We must strengthen and build upon existing patnerships by discovering shared interest, securing support and increasing our connections and relevance to all levels of society. Because so many forms of patnerships already exist at Dalhousie, taking account of our existing practice will help us develop a clear understanding of the practices we want to continue and/or refine to take our place nationally and internationally.


  1. Increase the engagement of alumni through the alumni engagement plan which focuses on communications, community building and volunteerism.
  2. Develop and deploy an engagement plan to keep government informed about Dal’s aspirations, achievements and needs; build partnerships where appropriate.
  3. Build new, sustained and active relationships with strategically selected national and international universities including university associations through the international strategy.
  4. Develop and deploy a business and NGO partnership strategy to identify key business and NGOs whose interests align with Dalhousie priorities and build appropriate partnerships and keep them informed.

Download the charter [PDF-136kB]


4.2 Strengthen the recognition for our academic excellence and reputation at national and international levels

: VP External

Assistant Vice-President, Communications & Marketing

(June 2019):

Faculty Awards/Excellence

  • Jeff Karabanow (School of Social Work) awarded Senate 150 Anniversary Medal


  • Anne-Marie Ryan: 2019 Recipient of 3M Teaching Fellowship
  • Afua Cooper: Named HRM Poet Laureate
  • Mary Brooks: First woman to receive the most distinguished international prize in her field, the Onassis Prize in Shipping
  • Jennifer Llewellyn: Wins SSHRC Impact Award for restorative justice work
  • Jean Marshall: Captured Canada’s top academic prize given annually by the Canadian Society for Immunology
  • New president's awards recognize research achievement: Jocelyn Downie (Law), Christine Chambers (Pediatrics), Howard Ramos (Sociology & Social Anthropology), Ingrid Waldron (Nursing), Marsha Campbell-Yeo (Nursing), Robin Urquhart (Surgery), Natalie Rosen (Psychology & Neuroscience), Alex Quinn (Physiology and Biophysics), Alex Speed (Chemistry), Tony Walker (Resource and Environmental Studies)
  • Gail Tomblin Murphy, School of Nursing director appointed vice-president of research and innovation for Nova Scotia Health Authority
  • Rita Orji, Computer Science professor recognized for digital leadership
  • Ingrid Sketris, professor of Pharmacy with cross-appointments to the Department of Community Health & Epidemiology and School of Health Administration, and Matthew Herder, associate professor in the faculties of Medicine and Law and director of the Health Law Institute appointed to Canada’s Patented Medicine Prices Review Board                                                                                     
  • Stan Kutcher (Psychiatry) named to Senate of Canada
  • Pathways to potential — Imhotep's Legacy Academy receives first Dal President's Award for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
  • Dal Med School welcomed new James Robinson Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies, Dr. OmiSoore H. Dryden
  • Dalhousie celebrated 99 U SPORTS Academic All-Canadians in 2018/2019

Media Coverage


  • Successful promotion and conclusion of 200th anniversary (see Strategic Priority 4.4)
  • 200th anniversary received significant coverage in media and reputation tracking


  • Awarded the Reputation Research contract and launched the project in January 2019: qualitative phase is complete with interviews evenly balanced between internal and external community members; quantitative phase is ongoing
  • Creation of a Strategic Enrolment Management Integrated Marketing Plan to align academic program planning, student recruitment and communications and marketing in support of recruitment, conversion, retention; institutional strengths and goals; and reputation (see Strategic Priority 1.2)
  • Social media growth: 11% increase on Facebook and Twitter (reached 20,000 followers milestone on Twitter), 7% increase on LinkedIn, 42% increase on Instagram; Twitter handle name change and verification achieved making Dal more competitive with other universities
  • Introduced new undergraduate recruitment platform (Make Progress) that aligns with the changing demographics of our target audience and positions Dalhousie as a place that helps shape lives filled with purpose
  • Support for leadership transition, including farewell activities for Richard Florizone, on-boarding of Interim President Peter MacKinnon and search for next president
  • Significant 2018/2019 stories/wins:
    • Dal evolutionary biologists uncover a new branch on the Tree of Life (November 2018)
    • Grand opening of IDEA Project (October 2018)
    • Opening of the Dalplex Fitness Centre (May 2018)
    • Partnership with the National Centre for Truth & Reconciliation (February 2019)
    • Largest-ever class of Royal Society of Canada honourees: six as RSC Fellows and three as Members of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists (September 2018)
    • Schulich School of Law moves up in ranking of world’s best law schools (October 2018)
    • Dal hosts AUS Men’s Basketball Final 8 (March 2019)
    • Day of Active Learning welcomes 45 youth to campus in partnership with United Way Halifax for a day camp full of hands-on activities (July 2018)
    • Dal hosts Canadian Space Agency astronaut live chat (March 2019)
    • Dal dentist, Sachin Seth, competes on CBC’s Great Canadian Baking Show (September 2018)
    • Earth Sciences prof Anne-Marie Ryan named a 3M Fellow (Feb 2019)
    • Dal-based Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative had a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican (January 2019)

Read more about priority 4.2

INFLUENCED BY: 1.2, 2.1, 3.2, 4.1, 4.3, 4.5
INFLUENCING: 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.5, 3.1, 4.1, 4.3, 4.5


A university’s reputation affects its ability to attract the best students, the best faculty, the best researchers and the best staff. It influences a university’s strength in gaining funding from both new and existing donors. It impacts a university’s ability to attract corporate partners and forge relationships with other universities and research bodies. Reputation is also a significant factor in rankings performance and performance in rankings influences reputation. Reputation and rankings performance are increasingly important as we become more international in our recruitment and research efforts.

Dalhousie University has recently completed reputation research that provides insights and intelligence relevant to the entire university. These insights have been broadly shared across campus  and communications & marketing has used the insights to inform its departmental plan and to develop a draft reputation plan that has been shared with senior leaders. For the university to support strategic initiative 4.2, we need to develop a reputation plan that is integrated and aligned with the faculty and unit plans.

Delivering on this plan and building partnerships across campus is key. In addition, a focussed, disciplined and measureable plan to improve our performance in key rankings is a priority. Both are key to positioning Dalhousie for the strategic growth that will be key to our success in our third century.


  1. Refresh Dal’s visual identity in response to the insights from the reputation research.
  2. Update Dal’s home page to reflect new identity and support key reputation drivers.
  3. Inform and engage the Dal community (all departments, units, faculties) on the results of the reputation research.
  4. Develop a 3-year reputation plan, aligned with the 200th anniversary project (4.4), the rankings project (4.3) and with faculty/unit plans.

Download the charter [PDF-138kB]


4.3 Develop a plan to secure and maintain Top 200 status

: Provost & VP Academic

PROJECT LEAD: Vice-Provost, Planning and Analytics (Susan Spence)

(June 2019):

  • Dal ranked 251-300 in Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings (consistent with previous release); and ranked 279 in Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings (QS) (279 last year)
  • Dalhousie appears in the top 200 rankings in 5 QS subject areas (down from 6 last year), including Earth and Marine Sciences, where Dal ranks in the top 100 universities worldwide
  • THE subject rankings: Dal ranks in 65th place for Law and ranks in the top 175 for Psychology

Read more about priority 4.3

INFLUENCED BY: 2.1, 2.3, 2.5, 4.2, 4.5
INFLUENCING: 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.5, 4.1, 4.2, 4.5


Higher education is a competitive sector. Dalhousie competes for highly qualified students, faculty and staff, for funding and for partners. The ranking of higher education institutions has become an important part of the national and international landscape.

In 2010, Dalhousie placed in the top 200 of the Times Higher Education ranking and is typically in the Top 250. From an initial analysis of this and other rankings, it is clear that perceptions of our performance lag behind our actual academic performance. If we could better align external perceptions with our actual performance, we could move back into the Top 200 global university; we should strive to be recognized as one.


  1. To be in the Top 200 in an international ranking.

Download the charter [PDF-132kB]



4.4 Prepare for Dalhousie's 200th Anniversary in 2018

: VP External

Assistant Vice-President, Communications & Marketing

(June 2019):

  • In June 2018, as part of the 200th celebration, Peter Duinker led a large team in planting 200 trees across campus
  • Coast to Coast Celebration of 200th Anniversary involved 13 events and 2,400 alumni
  • Completion of 7 Belong Forums as part of the Year of Belonging, including the inaugural Viola Desmond Legacy Lecture with Angela Davis
  • The Great Debate packed the Rebecca Cohn auditorium with 1,000 attendees, including 350 grade 7-12 students as part of STEMfest 2018
  • 32,000 in-person attendees of Dal 200th events and 6,400 viewers online
  • Computer Science Women in Tech recruitment to close the gender gap in computer sciences resulted in applications from female students, up 113% over last year’s recruitment; resulted in a 144% increase in female students entering first year in September 2018 (compared to previous year); 32 received new Women in Technology scholarships
  • Outstanding participation and involvement of key audiences in 200th events; 34.5% community members/friends/donors, 32.4% students, 17% faculty/staff and retirees, 16% alumni
  • $100k advertising budget garnered over $1M in value through media sponsorships

Read more about priority 4.4

INFLUENCED BY: 1.2, 3.2, 4.1
INFLUENCING: 1.2, 4.1, 4.2, 4.5


In 2018, Dalhousie University will celebrate its 200th anniversary and begin its third century. This bicentennial milestone provides a rare platform and opportunity on which to celebrate, engage and inspire broadly across audiences and communities internally and externally. It provides an opportunity to enhance, shift and change reputation and positioning.

Develop a plan to outline objectives for this celebration as well as an approach and necessary budget. Ideally, we would use the two years prior to the actual anniversary to build excitement and 'buy in', laying the foundation for a significant new fundraising campaign and other significant bicenntennial initiatives.


  1. By May 2016: Have an approved 200th anniversary plan that engages our key communities in both planning and celebrating our 200th anniversary
  2. By May 2016: Have an approved 200th anniversary plan that delivers a coordinated, measurable and memorable celebration that supports Dal's Strategic Direction 2014-18

Download the charter [PDF-137kB]


4.5 Attract additional external investment

: VP External

PROJECT LEAD: Vice-President, External (Peter Fardy) and Executive Director, Advancement Operations and Planning (Kevin MacDonell)

(June 2019):

  • More than $39M committed in external philanthropic support
  • Engineering and Architecture IDEA Project opened to students, including the Emera IDEA building (containing the Emera ideaHUB) and the Richard Murray Design Building (containing the Irving Oil Auditorium)
  • Dr. William Murphy Dental Clinic opened to students and patients
  • Student Learning Commons on  Agricultural Campus opened
  • Groundbreaking set for spring 2019 for the Performing Arts Centre project, supported by the provincial government’s $10M contribution to the Performing Arts Campaign, and more than $4.5M in private philanthropic support in 2019, including two new commitments of $2M each
  • More than $145k raised to support On Track Microbursaries (more than $216K to date)
  • Almost $6M raised for student financial aid, retention initiatives and student services
  • More than $200k raised for Black and Indigenous programs and student support
  • Operationalization of partnership agreement between Dalhousie University and Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation; DMRF has seen almost $5.7M in new commitments for health and medical research in 2018/2019
  • Direct involvement in attracting $9.1M in research investment in Dalhousie
  • More than $355k raised for experiential learning opportunities

Read more about priority 4.5

INFLUENCED BY: 1.3, 2.1, 2.3, 3.1, 4.1
INFLUENCING: 1.3, 1.5, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.5, 3.1, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3


In order to achieve its vision and deliver on the identified strategic priorities, Dalhousie cannot depend solely on core funding from traditional sources - government operating grants and tuition & fees.  The difference between a good university and a great one is tied to its ability to attract additional investment from external sources to transform academic and research capabilities.  These include philanthropic donations from individuals, corporations and foundations, research grants and additional government investment in areas of strategic importance to public policy priorities.

Dalhousie has demonstrated its fund raising capabilities through the success of the $280 million Bold Ambitions campaign, which concluded in 2013.  It is therefore well positioned to establish even higher fund raising goals that can be pursued over the coming decade.  

The goal of this project is to plan and execute a new comprehensive fundraising campaign which will provide Dalhousie the additional funding required to deliver on the exciting vision for the future.


  1. Plan and implement a comprehensive fundraising campaign that will attract significant new financial commitments over the next 10 years.

Download the charter [PDF-135kB]