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2023: A groundbreaking year for Dal’s alumni community

A look back at 13 stories of firsts and achievements within our alumni community that we were proud to share this year.

Posted: December 15, 2023

By: Alison DeLory

A collage of photos representing the 2023 wrap-up of alumni news.

As 2023 ends, we take a moment to celebrate the many accomplishments of Dal alumni this year, and revisit things that made news in our community. Here, we look back at 13 stories about and for our alumni community we were proud to share this year.

1. Dr. Kim Brooks was named Dalhousie’s 13th President and Vice-Chancellor in July. Dr. Brooks, who has been Acting Provost and Vice-President Academic, also served as dean of two Dal faculties: the Schulich School of Law and the Faculty of Management. She is Dal’s first female and openly queer president. Her installation speech was centred on the themes of people, place and purpose.

2. One of Nova Scotia’s most prominent community and business leaders filled Dalhousie’s top ceremonial role as Chancellor. For Rustum Southwell (LLD’18), it represents another chapter in his legacy of lifting people up to grow, thrive and succeed. He came to Dal after retiring from the Black Business Initiative, where his position as CEO was filled by alum Matthew Martel (BMgmt’14). Southwell is Dal’s first Black Chancellor.

3. Dal officially broke ground on its long-awaited Events Centre, a 60,000-square-foot facility that will feature an NHL-sized ice surface and serve as an on-campus health and wellness hub for both the Dalhousie and the greater Halifax communities. Its champions include former varsity athletes and lifelong friends Ian Oulton (BA’66) and Dr. Bill Stanish (MD’70).

4. Senator Don Oliver’s (LLB’64, LLD’03) steadfast fight for diversity, equity, and justice inspired a new scholarship. Launched with a $1M gift from financier, entrepreneur and investor Wade Dawe, it will support African Nova Scotian students following in Oliver’s footsteps. Oliver also received Schulich Law’s Weldon Award for Unselfish Public Service this year.

5. After meeting at Dal, Management alumni Daniel Bartek (BComm’14) and Cam McDonald (BComm’14) built a successful pre-mixed drink business, Ace Beverage Group. Their combined skills proved to be the perfect mix when they sold Ace Beverage for a whopping $165 million.

6. The Aurum Awards, Dalhousie’s flagship alumni awards, were handed out during May’s Alumni Days. Among this year’s winners were a dentist who brings smiles to those who can’t afford dental care, a lawyer helping Ukrainians find refuge in Canada, an artist and activista judge working to help women judges leave Afghanistan to find safety and freedom, and a nurse practitioner improving health outcomes for Indigenous patients. Meet the 2023 winners.

7. Introduced in 2023, the Dalhousie Golden Eagle Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates a remarkable alum with a long-standing connection and commitment to the advancement of academic excellence at Dalhousie. Margaret Oulton (PhD’75) — a professor and prenatal researcher who made a discovery that would eventually lead to the safe delivery of over 10,000 infants across our region — was the inaugural recipient.

8. From 1969-1975, Marie Jones (MA’23) attended Dalhousie for her Master of Arts degree, but due to family circumstances, did not graduate. At Dal’s spring convocation, 48 years later, she was finally awarded her degree at age 92.

9. As part of her work at Dalhousie and on the gynecology unit at the IWK, Rachel Ollivier (PhD’22) created the first patient educational tool in Nova Scotia on sexual health after birth. She also was named a Top 25 Women of Influence.

10. Dalhousie and the University of King’s College marked 100 years of association on Sept. 1, 2023. Many Dal alum have taken courses at King’s and vice versa, and the majority of King’s degrees have been jointly conferred by Dal since the original articles of association forming their academic partnership were signed on Sept. 1, 1903.

11. Medical Sciences student and future alum Diana Adamo was selected as a 2024 Rhodes Scholar, earning a prestigious scholarship to Oxford University. Adamo, who is Dal’s 94th Rhodes Scholar, overcame substantial challenges to find success in academics and in making community impact.

12. Leah Jones (BSc’13, MD’18) was appointed Dal’s first academic director, Black health, at Dalhousie Medical School this year. She is leading in co-developing and overseeing the direction for the Faculty of Medicine to engage African Nova Scotian and Black populations in the Maritimes.

13. Alumni Caleigh Wong (DipEng’22, BA’22) and Chantel Findlay (BSc’21) received McCall MacBain Scholarships, the country’s first comprehensive leadership-based scholarship for master’s and professional studies. They are now pursuing fully-funded graduate degrees at McGill University, while participating in mentorship, coaching and a leadership development program.

We extend our thanks to all Dalhousie alumni who reached out or responded to our requests to be interviewed in 2023 so we could celebrate you through feature stories like these. If you have news to share in 2024, please submit a class note or email us at so we may follow up with you.