Dr. Richard Florizone
President of Dalhousie University
Dalhousie's 11th President
Since the beginning of his presidency, Dr. Richard Florizone has been committed to advancing the university's three-fold mission of teaching and learning, research and service to communities. In collaboration with Dal faculty, staff and students, he has worked to build a collective vision that advances "The Four R’s": retention, research, returns to society and respect, while enhancing the university's economic, social and cultural impact. This vision is outlined in Inspiration and Impact: Dalhousie's Strategic Direction 2014-2018.
Dr. Florizone began his term as Dalhousie’s 11th president in July of 2013, bringing a unique mix of academic and professional skills developed through extensive experience with universities, companies and government in Canada and abroad. Previously, Dr. Florizone was vice-president, finance and resources at the University of Saskatchewan, where he was also a Policy Fellow in the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy. He earned his PhD in physics from MIT and has been a senior adviser to the World Bank Group's International Finance Corporation in Washington, D.C., as well as serving in roles with Bombardier Aerospace, Cambridge University and the Boston Consulting Group.
You can find Dr. Florizone on Twitter at @dalpres.
Read Dr. Florizone's full profile
Leading Dal forward
Dr. Richard Florizone began his term as the 11th president of Dalhousie, in July, 2013 and quickly found common ground with Dal students. Dr. Florizone was inspired to move from Saskatchewan to Nova Scotia by many of the same attributes that bring students from across Canada and the world. “Two centuries of academic excellence, a really warm and engaging community and a wonderful landscape. I think it’s similar to what draws a lot of our students.”
Dr. Florizone was also drawn to the challenge of leading Dalhousie as it approaches its 200th anniversary. As president, Dr. Florizone is shaping Dalhousie’s future while respecting its past.
“I’m forward-looking, but I have a respect for tradition and where we’ve come from. This institution has achieved wonderful things in its nearly two centuries, and the question for us is, how do we build on that?”
At the beginning of his presidency, Dr. Florizone brought that question to the Dalhousie community with his 100 Days of Listening initiative. By gathering the perspectives of students, faculty, staff, alumni and external partners – and combining this feedback with quantitative research – Dr. Florizone put together a complete picture of what matters to the Dalhousie community.
Dr. Florizone strongly believes that Dalhousie’s success depends on the community uniting behind common goals. So it’s fitting that his first step as president was leadership-by-listening.
“Strategy needs to be grounded in evidence, and that evidence comes from people’s perceptions as well as facts and data. The listening was about gathering those facts.
“We needed to work together to define that collective vision of where we want to go as we enter into our third century. From there we’ve defined some themes and moved forward.”
The results of that feedback can be found in Dr. Florizone’s 100 Days report [PDF-7.3MB]. The ideas of the Dal community also form the foundation of Inspiration and Impact: Dalhousie’s Strategic Direction 2014-2018, a document that outlines Dalhousie’s purpose and vision.
Dr. Florizone has a clear idea of what will define his success as Dalhousie president. The self-described “pragmatic visionary” brings it back to the core mission of a university. “Our mission is teaching, research and community service. The role of the president is to foster the engagement and secure the support to help everyone achieve the mission.”
Dr. Florizone employed this collaborative, innovative and mission-focused mindset in his previous role as vice-president, finance and resources at the University of Saskatchewan. One of his important achievements was the building of student housing, a project that required partnering with municipal and provincial governments, donors, students and faculty. Dr. Florizone recognized the value that housing would bring to each of these constituencies and worked with each group to develop a solution that helped the university achieve its goal of attracting out-of-province students.
“If we want to advance the institution, we’ve got to be able to work across disciplines and different sectors of society.”
Dr. Florizone continues to advance Dalhousie by engaging the Dal community and its partners. He currently serves on the boards of the Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust, the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies and Innovacorp, a crown corporation that invests in startup companies.
Dr. Florizone is also a director on the board of Universities Canada and was inducted as a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering in 2015.
Above all, Dr. Florizone remains focused on translating the ideas of the Dal community into meaningful action.
“We started with broad questions, moved to answers and from answers to action. It’s through action that we further our mission.”