Catherine Bagnell Styles

Assistant vice-president, communications & marketing


Catherine Bagnell Styles joined Dalhousie as assistant vice-president, communications and marketing in November of 2010. With a career background that includes senior marketing and communications roles in postsecondary education as well as various sectors including transportation, tourism, advertising and healthcare, Catherine brings a diversity of experience and perspectives to bear in her leadership.

Since coming to Dalhousie, Catherine has led the Communications and Marketing team in telling Dal’s stories and building its reputation across Canada and the world.

Read Ms. Bagnell Styles' full profile

Catherine Bagnell Styles became assistant vice-president, communications and marketing at Dalhousie in 2010, moving from the University of Calgary, where she served as assistant vice-president, external relations.

Catherine was inspired to join Dal because of Dal’s strong commitment to brand communications, and also because, having spent most of her career outside her home province of Nova Scotia, she had unique appreciation of the Dal brand.

"Having lived and worked across the country, I had a unique appreciation for Dal's place in the post-secondary landscape. It's easy to take what we have in our backyard for granted but across Canada, Dal is seen as one of Canada's best universities. Joining Dal and being able to come home was a pretty attractive opportunity and too good to pass up."

As head of Dal’s Communications and Marketing team, Catherine is dedicated to building Dal's reputation – locally and globally. The team is reponsible for everything from advertising to public relations to community engagement to internal communication.

“We compete every day for the hearts and minds of our key audiences and our reputation is everything. Our audiences expect us to be an outstanding university and a good citizen of the world. When people ‘buy’ Dal – whether they choose to send their children as students or engage emotionally or make a financial gift – they make an investment in us.

“The C&M team gets to help enhance this reputation, which means more students and more dollars for research. Both make an economic impact in Halifax and the region."

Overseeing the team and promoting Dal’s reputation, Catherine says, requires her to be a “periscope,” anticipating and acting on high-level, strategic issues and opportunities while dealing with the details of hands-on project work. 

“You really have to know almost everything that’s happening and be able to juggle multiple priorities as well as move nimbly. The opportunity to work in Communications and Marketing is extremely satisfying and probably best suited to someone who enjoys being really, really busy and involved."

Catherine has established a spirit of collaboration within the Communications and Marketing department and with its partners across campus. She understands that, to external audiences, a message from any Dal department is a message from Dal itself.

“The sharing of information, the collaboration in developing messages and proactively telling stories – overall integration is foundational for good communications.”

Catherine also believes that collaboration leads to innovation, and that a key element of her role as a leader is to foster an environment where her team members feel the inspiration and freedom to be creative.

“To the outsider, communications can seem ‘easy’ – a smart quote or a headline. People don't always see the strategy, planning and thinking behind our work. The C&M team are really strong strategic thinkers as well as doers and they are fully committed to telling Dal's many stories.”

Catherine cites her team’s coverage of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Dal and the opening of the Ocean Sciences Building, both of which highlighted Dal’s research strengths, and student-focused initiatives like an electronic holiday greeting card and guerilla student recruitment activities as examples of her team’s creativity, comprehensive thinking and hard work.

Catherine believes even better work is on the horizon. One of her goals, for example, is to see even greater integration between the communications and marketing plans of Dal’s individual departments and faculties and the university as a whole.

“As much as I’m really proud of the work we’ve done, I strongly believe our best work is ahead of us. It's very inspiring."

Quick facts

  • Born in Nova Scotia
  • Lived and worked in St. John's, Toronto and Calgary
  • Worked at head office in marketing and communications for international brands Canadian Airlines International and Four Seasons Hotels
  • Served in senior marketing and communications positions at the University of Calgary, Calgary Health Region and Travel Alberta
  • Studied at Mount St. Vincent University, Queen's University and Royal Roads University
  • Past board chair of Decidedly Jazz Danceworks in Calgary
  • Current board member, Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia
  • Career highlights include awarding an honorary degree to Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk via satellite update to the International Space Station
  • Passionate about gardening, cooking, painting, dogs and all things French