Announcement from the Chair

May 16, 2019

Dalhousie University’s Board of Governors announced today that Dr. Deep Saini has been appointed as the university’s 12th President and Vice-Chancellor.

Dr. Saini, who is currently Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Canberra in Australia, was the unanimous choice of the search committee. He is an accomplished leader who combines significant Canadian post-secondary experience with a global outlook; a distinguished scientist whose belief in the transformative power of education has defined his life’s journey; and a warm, genuine and inspiring individual ready to build on Dal’s 200 years of achievement and chart a course towards even greater success in our third century ahead.

“I am honoured and humbled by the opportunity to serve as the 12th President and Vice-Chancellor of Dalhousie University,” says Dr. Saini. “The university’s singular commitment to its anchor role in the region’s economic and social development is fittingly matched to its lofty national and global aspirations — a balance that I have espoused throughout my career and will form the cornerstone of my leadership at Dal. The university’s students, faculty and staff are proudly devoted to the synergy between world-class education and a rich tradition of outstanding research and scholarship. I am thrilled at being given the chance to be part of writing the next chapter of this compelling story.”

Dr. Saini will begin his five-year term on January 1, 2020, and plans are underway for his first campus visit as President-Elect sometime in early June (dates to be determined). He follows Dalhousie’s 11th President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Richard Florizone, who served from 2013 until 2018, and Mr. Peter MacKinnon, presently serving in an interim capacity. With Mr. MacKinnon’s term set to conclude at the end of June, the Board of Governors will review options for interim leadership for the remainder of 2019 in the coming weeks.

About Dr. Saini

The search committee was thrilled and thoroughly impressed by the quality and quantity of candidates who were interested in this opportunity, from around the world — a testament to Dalhousie’s growing national and international reputation. Even among this competition, however, Deep truly stood apart.

Born and raised in India, Dr. Saini earned his PhD in Plant Physiology from the University of Adelaide in Australia. He has worked at four different U15 universities in Canada, beginning his academic career at the University of Alberta before becoming a leading researcher in plant biology at the Université de Montréal’s Plant Biology Research Institute. In 2006, he became Dean of the Faculty of Environment at the University of Waterloo, launching several new programs and increasing both operating and facilities funding during his term.

For most of the past decade, Dr. Saini has been either President or Principal of a major university campus, with transformative results. First, as a Vice-President at the University of Toronto and Principal of University of Toronto Mississauga, he led major internationalization efforts, oversaw a significant facilities expansion and increased faculty complement by nearly 100 professors. Then, as President of the University of Canberra — a young university of comparable size and international ranking to Dalhousie — he led the development and implementation of a new strategic plan which positions the school as a national leader in professional education and experiential learning, as well as in equity, diversity, inclusion and access.

Dr. Saini is multilingual, fluent in English, French and three South Asian languages. A lifelong champion for fitness and athletics who played field hockey and track-and-field as a student-athlete, Dr. Saini has been honoured by the Canadian Society of Plant Physiologists, Nanjing University, the Sikh Foundation of Canada, the Royal Society of New South Wales, the Punjab Academy of Sciences and the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce. He was featured in India Abroad's "2011 Power List" and is the recipient of a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

About the search process

One of the insights Deep shared with us during the search process is his belief that, “team is at the soul of leadership.” In that spirit, I wish to thank the members of the search committee for their outstanding work.

In addition to myself as chair, the search committee consisted of six Board-appointed members, four-Senate appointed members, one student representative and one administrator. The committee’s diversity, both in perspective and in their Dal roles, allowed for robust and through discussions not only about the candidates considered, but about Dalhousie, its mission and its third century ahead. The result is a President-Elect we were all proud to support. My thanks as well to search consultant Jane Griffith with Odgers Berndtson for her fantastic work in support of this process.

The search, launched in September 2018, was conducted according to Dalhousie’s Senior Administrative Appointments Policy and Procedures.

In closing, my congratulations to Dr. Saini on his appointment. He joins Dalhousie at a time of tremendous momentum: record enrolment and fundraising, significant renewal of our campuses, and a strong leadership team in place across the university. Under Dr. Saini’s leadership, I’m certain these successes will be just a taste of what Dalhousie’s third century has in store.


Lawrence Stordy, QC
Chair, Dalhousie University Board of Governors
Chair, Presidential Search Committee