June 25, 2019 - Interim university leadership

Next week, Peter MacKinnon’s six-month tenure as Interim President and Vice-Chancellor comes to an end. On behalf of the Board, please join me in expressing our gratitude to Peter for joining our university community and providing such thoughtful, inspired leadership during this period of transition. To have someone of his caliber, experience and insight on our senior administration team has been invaluable in helping maintain Dal’s momentum heading into our third century. We wish him all the best as he returns to his family in Alberta.

With the presidential search process concluded and President-Elect Deep Saini set to join the university community in January 2020, the Board of Governors voted today to appoint Provost and Vice-President Academic Teri Balser as Interim President and Vice-Chancellor for the remainder of 2019.

Since arriving at Dalhousie in October 2018 from Curtin University, Dr. Balser has provided capable and accomplished leadership in the Provost’s role, working with the Deans, faculty and senior leadership in moving our academic mission forward. In particular, her work engaging the university community in institutional strategic planning — work she will continue as Interim President — is setting Dalhousie up for success as we move towards our next Strategic Direction. She is a natural fit to help lead our university community into 2020 and the arrival of our next president.

Chris Moore, Dean of the Faculty of Science, will serve as Acting Provost and Vice-President Academic during this time. Dr. Moore served in the same capacity last year during the transition to Dr. Balser’s arrival, and we are glad to once again have his experienced leadership in this important role. Ian Hill, Professor in the Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science, will serve as Acting Dean of Science.

This will be my final message to the university community as Board Chair, so I hope you’ll allow me to once again express my thanks for the honour of serving as Chair for the past five years. The Board is in excellent hands with incoming Chair Candace Thomas, who I know will do an exemplary job in the role. I remain deeply inspired by this community and what it has accomplished — and excited to see what it does next.

Here’s to Dalhousie’s continued success in the years to come.


Lawrence Stordy

Chair, Dalhousie University Board of Governors


May 16, 2019 - Dr. Deep Saini appointed as Dalhousie University's 12th President

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

March 21, 2019 - Presidential search update


To:           The Dalhousie University community

From:      Lawrence Stordy, Chair, Board of Governors; Chair, Presidential Search Committee

Date:       March 21, 2019

Re:           Presidential search update

I am writing to share an update on the search for Dalhousie’s 12th President and Vice-Chancellor.

Launched in the fall, the search is continuing on schedule. We have been extremely pleased by the interest received to date, as well as the strong input from the Dal community during our engagement process. This includes our university-wide survey that was distributed in the fall as well as in-person consultations with groups such as Senate and Deans’ Council. Thank you to all who have contributed.

As previously communicated, the search committee consists of six Board-appointed members and six non-Board-appointed members, in addition to the chair (who only votes in the case of a tie). The majority of non-Board-appointed members have been appointed by Senate. (The full search membership can be found here.) The Board has also engaged search consultant Jane Griffith with Odgers Berndtson, one of the world’s leading executive search consulting firms, to assist with the process.

The committee is still expecting to complete our search and recommend a candidate for appointment sometime in the first half of 2019.

On behalf of the committee, as well as the Board, allow me to thank Interim President Peter MacKinnon and the entire university leadership team for their service during this leadership transition. It is clear that Dalhousie’s momentum coming out of its 200th anniversary remains strong, and we are excited to appoint and welcome a new president and vice-chancellor who will help guide Dalhousie into its third century.


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

December 5, 2018 - Dal News story

Read a Dal News story published today summarizing all things thus far in the presidential search.

October 22, 2018 - Position brief document added

Click here [PDF] to review the position brief document about Dalhousie University and the president's position.

October 16, 2018 - Interim president announced

To:                  The Dalhousie University community
From:              Lawrence Stordy, Chair, Dalhousie Board of Governors
Date:               October 16, 2018
Re:                  Appointment of Peter MacKinnon as Interim President and Vice-Chancellor

I am pleased to announce the appointment of R. Peter MacKinnon, OC, QC, as Interim President and Vice-Chancellor of Dalhousie University, effective January 15, 2019 and continuing through to June 30, 2019.
Approved this afternoon by the Board of Governors, the appointment brings Mr. MacKinnon and his deep experience in university leadership to Dalhousie as we continue the search for Richard Florizone’s successor as President and Vice-Chancellor.
Mr. MacKinnon, past President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Saskatchewan, is a proud Dalhousie alumnus (BA’69, History and Political Science) with Maritime roots, having grown up in Prince Edward Island. He served as a faculty member, Dean of the College of Law and Acting Vice-President Academic at the University of Saskatchewan before serving as President from 1999 until 2012. Under his leadership, the university rose to new heights in research and innovation, and underwent a significant restoration of campus and its facilities to better meet the needs of its students and researchers.
Since leaving the University of Saskatchewan, Mr. MacKinnon became the inaugural Prime Ministers of Canada Fellow at the Public Policy Forum in Ottawa and served for two years as interim president of Athabasca University. He chaired the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences Expert Panel on team science and was commissioned by the Premier of Saskatchewan to review and report on sovereign wealth funds. A past chair of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (now Universities Canada), Mr. MacKinnon has written or co-edited five books including sole authorship of two recent volumes on universities published by University of Toronto Press: University Leadership and Public Policy in the Twenty-First Century (2014) and University Commons Divided: Exploring Debate and Dissent on Campus (2018). His awards and honours include Officer of the Order of Canada, Queen's Counsel and several honorary degrees, including one from Dalhousie in 2012.

“I am thrilled to return to Dalhousie and Halifax. It’s an exciting time for the university, as it celebrates 200 years of achievement and so many successes in recent years. I’m looking forward to joining an excellent team in advancing Dal’s strategic plan and continuing that success through to the appointment of a new president.” — Peter MacKinnon

We are grateful Peter has agreed to leave his home in Alberta to return to his alma mater as Interim President. Having someone of his calibre, experience and reputation in the role will help ensure continued momentum coming out of Dalhousie’s 200th year. Additionally, Peter’s close working relationship with President Florizone at the University of Saskatchewan (where Dr. Florizone served as Vice-President Finance and Administration from 2005 until 2012) adds a welcome layer of continuity to this transition. Please join me in congratulating Peter on his appointment.
As for the search for our 12th President and Vice-Chancellor, the search process is well underway, with the committee expecting to announce an appointment sometime in the new year. For more, visit the Presidential Search website.
Lawrence Stordy, QC
Chair, Board of Governors
Dalhousie University

September 21, 2018 - Your input on the search for Dalhousie’s next President

Earlier this month, we launched the search for Dalhousie’s 12th President and Vice-Chancellor. Consulting firm Odgers Berndtson has been engaged to assist us in our search.

We now invite to help inform the search process. We are asking for your thoughts on opportunities and challenges for the next President, the skills and attributes you feel the candidate should possess, and how you’d define success for the university and its next President. Your insight will help the committee construct the profile of the ideal candidate.

Your input is vital in moving the committee’s work forward, and your timely response is appreciatedby Friday, October 5 at the latest. All information will be held in strictest confidence by the consultant and the committee, and will be used only in aggregated form in order to ensure the identity of individuals is not disclosed.

If you are a faculty/staff member or student who should have received a survey link via email (September 21) and did not, please contact search consultant Jane Griffith at jane.griffith@odgersberndtson.com to receive a survey link.


Lawrence Stordy, Chair, Dalhousie Board of Governors

Chair, Presidential Search Committee

September 11, 2018 - The Presidential Search Committee

Search committee membership has been announced

September 5, 2018 - Launch of search process

In June, I shared the news that Dalhousie President Richard Florizone will be leaving the university at the end of this year to pursue an exciting opportunity with the emerging Quantum Valley Ideas Lab in Waterloo, Ontario. Dalhousie has benefitted greatly from Dr. Florizone’s leadership and vision these past five years, helping to build the energy and achievements we’ve seen across the university and to strengthen our contribution to the educational, social and economic development of our region and beyond. We look forward to working with him through the remainder of 2018, continuing to move Dal forward through exciting new initiatives and events as we conclude our 200th year.

Dalhousie is entering its third century with incredible momentum, and it is in that spirit that the Board of Governors is launching the search for the university’s 12th president — one who will continue our 200-year legacy of academic excellence, transformational research, and community building. This search will be global in scope, and with Dal’s growing international profile we anticipate continuing to attract world-class candidates.

We have engaged Odgers Berndtson, one of the world’s leading executive search consultant firms, to assist with the search process. This will be the first presidential search conducted at Dalhousie under the current Senior Administrative Appointments Policy, approved by the Board and Senate in 2013. Membership on the search committee is still being finalized, but it will consist of an equal number of Board-appointed members and non-Board-appointed members, with myself serving as chair. As per the policy, the majority of non-Board-appointed members will be appointed by Senate. One member will be appointed by the Dalhousie Student Union, and members may also include other members of the university community who would be able to provide an informed perspective relevant to the position.

The Dalhousie community can expect to hear more as the search progresses, as well as opportunities to contribute by sharing perspectives on the requirements, challenges and opportunities for the President’s position. Our Presidential Search website is now live, and will be populated with more information as it becomes available. We do not yet have a timeline for completion of the search. If the search is not completed prior to President Florizone’s departure, the Board will appoint an acting president to serve until a new president can begin their tenure.

Dalhousie has a very strong leadership team in place, one that is strengthening the university’s mission, pushing forward on the important priorities of our Strategic Direction and helping make our 200th year truly special. I have no doubt this momentum will continue through the search for and transition to Dalhousie’s next president and vice-chancellor.

Lawrence Stordy, Chair, Dalhousie Board of Governors

June 18, 2018 - Announcement of President Florizone’s departure

It is with mixed emotion that I share the news with you that Dr. Richard Florizone will be stepping down as Dalhousie University President in the new year. 

Dalhousie University has always attracted the very best candidates, including Dr. Florizone. We have benefitted greatly from his leadership and vision these past five years. We are saddened to see him leave, yet we share his enthusiasm as he embarks on an exciting, “once in a lifetime” opportunity to lead the new Quantum Valley Ideas Lab, based in Waterloo, Ontario which will benefit all of Canada. I know that he looks forward to continuing to find ways to work with Dalhousie as he helps establish Canada as a leader in this emerging global field.

Dr. Florizone and his leadership team began his presidency by engaging the community in 100 Days of Listening, a process that sought input on a way forward for the university and informed our five-year strategic plan. He has been steadfast in his commitment to advance our collective priorities, including student retention and success, research excellence, and building a more diverse and inclusive university community.

Over the last five years, a few of our shared successes include:

  • Record student enrolment and fundraising
  • Full accreditation of academic programs, and increased access to experiential learning for our students
  • Dalhousie faculty recognized with Canada’s top science prize in three of the last five years
  • Securing the largest federal research grant in Canada in 2016 for the Ocean Frontier Institute
  • Supporting the successful Ocean Supercluster application and helping to catalyze the attraction of more than $500 million in ocean related R & D funding to the region
  • Revitalization of our Sexton campus through the $64M IDEA project, opening the Collaborative Health Education Building on Carleton Campus, and the McCain Learning Commons and our new fitness centre on Studley campus, and launching the renewal of the Dalhousie Performing Arts Centre
  • On our Agricultural Campus in Truro, completing the biomass plant renewal project and starting the new MacRae learning commons
  • Attaining significant improvements in creating a campus where all belong, increasing diversity of faculty and staff, and advancing reconciliation and the foundation for further progress
  • Achieving balanced budgets in each of the last five years 
  • Energizing the Dalhousie community in the celebration of our 200th anniversary

Through his leadership, Dr. Florizone has positioned Dalhousie as a catalyst and collaborator for the region. You can see this impact in collective achievements such as the Ocean Frontier Institute, COVE, the Ocean Supercluster, IDEA Hub, and the Performing Arts Centre. We have proven what can be accomplished when we work together, and we will continue to build on this potential.

Dalhousie University is entering its third century with tremendous momentum and with a very strong team across the university. We will put an interim plan in place and the Board of Governors will take the time to recruit another exceptional president as we continue to contribute to academic excellence, transformational research, and community building. With the momentum and international profile that Dalhousie has been creating, we know we will continue to attract world-class candidates.

As Chair of the Board and someone who has had the opportunity to work closely with him, I have respected and admired how Dr. Florizone brought to the presidency an openness, reflectiveness, and deep belief that we can – and must – always strive to do better. This approach has helped us address many challenges and seize opportunities, as well as recognize our responsibility and potential as leaders in the province, and beyond. Through his leadership, Dr. Florizone has shown us what’s possible when we bring together our best thinking and commit to action. It will continue to be inspiring to see what we make happen across our campuses, in the community, across the province, and around the world.

On behalf of the Board of Governors, I would like to thank Richard and his family for their many contributions, and we look forward to seeing him continue to achieve great things. We are truly inspired and excited to build on our many successes.

Lawrence Stordy, Chair, Dalhousie Board of Governors