Assistant vice-president, government relations
Matt Hebb joined Dalhousie as assistant vice-president, government relations in April, 2013. Prior to assuming the role, Mr. Hebb served in Nova Scotia’s provincial government as principal secretary to former premier Darrell Dexter.
The experience and knowledge he has acquired in the government sector allows Mr. Hebb to effectively represent Dalhousie’s interests to political and bureaucratic decision-makers. His leadership helps to ensure that Dalhousie maintains a prominent and influential voice in the university sector and the social and economic fabric of Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada.
Read Mr. Hebb's full profile
As the principal secretary to former Nova Scotia premier Darrell Dexter, Matt Hebb gained insight into how governments function. “It was a tremendous education in how interests are balanced and choices are made,” says Mr. Hebb of the experience.
Since April of 2013, Mr. Hebb has been applying this knowledge from the perspective of a university leader, as assistant vice-president, government relations for Dalhousie. He sees important opportunities to advance common university and government priorities by promoting deeper understanding of how each approaches decision-making.
“Dal, as an institution, stands to be heavily influenced by choices government makes and the government has expectations of what it would like to see from universities," he says. “I feel lucky to have an inside perspective from the provincial government and now I'm gaining a perspective here at Dal of what those decision-making processes look like, what the different factors are that come into play.”
That dual perspective is especially valuable in achieving what Mr. Hebb describes as his core objective: the creation and nurturing of positive relationships between Dalhousie and various levels of government.
According to Mr. Hebb, these relationships go beyond simply communicating with elected politicians and senior government officials. If Dalhousie wishes to influence social and economic policy, he says, it is critical for the university to take a broad approach.
“Governments are responsive to constituencies and communities of interest, so government relations must take account of relationships the university has with those whom government decision-makers respond to.”
By building these relationships and carrying an influential voice to provincial, federal and municipal governments, Mr. Hebb aims to strengthen Dalhousie’s impact and profile in Nova Scotia and the Atlantic region.
“There is room for Dal to play a constructive role as a leader in the university sector,” he says. “We do a lot and I think there is a sense that we can and should do more still to contribute to the province’s social and economic prosperity, and I think in both our multilateral and bilateral relationships we’re trying to set that tone.
“We’re trying to find approaches where Dal can win and everyone else can win as well.”
For Mr. Hebb, moving from provincial government to a role that offers similar opportunities to make a positive difference for people is also a “win.” He says his duties are as diverse as they are rewarding.
“With a really diverse program set and range of faculties, there are literally thousands of ways that Dalhousie is engaged in the life of the province and the region,” says Mr. Hebb.
“I’m attracted to that diverse array of issues, projects and files and I’m attracted to that aspect of the university mission that aims to advance the social and economic prosperity of our city, our province and our country.”