From the Interim President's Desk

An email series penned by interim president and vice-chancellor, Teri Balser. Distributed every couple weeks, From the Interim President's Desk is intended to keep staff and faculty informed about various things related to Dal from the university-wide perspective of a president.  

Oct. 7, 2019

Hello everyone -

Time goes by fast, and now here we are in October. Sweater weather! Just a quick update as we head toward Convocation and the second half of the semester.  

  • Our 10th annual Mawio’mi was last week, kicking off the start of Mi’kmaq History Month. I had the pleasure of meeting Grand Chief Norman Sylliboy. The whole event was really spectacular. The energy and drumming really set the campus alive! 
  • We had a successful planning retreat a couple weeks ago, with more than 150 participants. Thank you to all of you who could make it. We heard from the Learning Circles, and then worked together to provide input into the charter documents for the Self-Study teams that are now forming. If you are interested in participating, it’s not too late to volunteer for one of the teams. They are: Research Future, Sustainability and Environmental Responsibility, Future of Teaching and Learning, Student Experience and Success, Campus Health and Wellness, Culture and Climate, Internationalization and Global Engagement, and Dal Purpose/Social Responsibility. Email if you have interest to find out more. 
  • The planning process we’ve engaged in is a new one, and I’d love to get your feedback on it. We’ve put together a very short (5 question) survey for your input and thoughts. If you have a few minutes, please do weigh in here. Thank you in advance.
  • We welcomed our new James R. Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies, Dr. OmiSoore Dryden, at an event at the Black Cultural Centre on Oct. 3. She shared some of her work on the importance of Black Canadian Studies in Medical Education. I’m looking forward to learning more as she commences her tenure here. Huge welcome to her. 
  • Our new Dean of Continuing Education started this week - Dr. Dianne Tyers. Welcome Dianne! We are glad to have you. 
  • Finally, I was proud to represent Dal at several regional meetings of university presidents lately. We are certainly the largest of Atlantic Canada’s universities, but we are not alone in our enthusiasm for the work we do, and our students. I’m familiar with other national higher education systems, and I have to say that I am really impressed with Canadian (and Nova Scotian) higher education. And it is because of all of you and your efforts. I continue to be impressed by all the amazing things we do, and the outstanding people we have.

Until next time, be well,

Teri Balser
Interim President and Vice-Chancellor  

Previous From the Interim President's Desk Emails

Sept. 13, 2019

Greetings all - 

Apologies for the delay in this message. As you have no doubt seen, there have been numerous formal memos that needed to go out lately, and I didn’t want to crowd your inbox any more than necessary! 

That said, I did want to at least write quickly and catch up. It’s a busy and important time of year. We welcomed a new group of students – it was fantastic to meet some of them and their parents during orientation, move-in, and Induction. Also, a group of new faculty and staff are now with us. I loved getting to meet them as well at their orientation. Welcome to all! We are glad to have you. 

We’ve completed our first week of classes, and are now almost done with the second (hurricane notwithstanding). I hope you all got off to a good start, and I send my best wishes for a great semester. As much as I appreciate the opportunities of a role like mine, I do miss teaching! If you have a moment, or the notion, I’d love to hear about what you teach and your classes. This week, I got to attend a reception for many of our first-year renewable entrance scholarship students, and I loved hearing from so many of them about their classes and aspirations. We have such amazing students — and great teachers. Two teachers in particular were mentioned over and over as I talked to the students: Jen Stamp in Psychology, who brings a guitar on the first day of class and sings her syllabus (and clearly leaves quite an impression); and Carolan McLarney in Management, who teaches a class on global business that the students absolutely love, and who also helps them understand right away that there will be no cell phone nonsense in her class. Thank you both, as well as all of you, who work so hard for our students.  

A few other things of note since my last message:

  • Our planning process is moving along. The Learning Circles have been active over the summer, and now we are turning to the next phase, where we formalize the emerging themes into self-study teams to develop white papers and high-level recommendations for Dal. We have a workshop/retreat on Sept. 17 to help develop the ideas, and you are all invited. It’s in the afternoon in the McInnes room in the SUB. Here’s the link to register: – and I hope to see you there! 
  • I am excited to be working with our first cohort of Provost Fellows. You might have seen the announcement. Lisa Goldberg, Michelle Williams, and Estelle Joubert will be developing a set of projects related to our strategic priorities. Along with our new Academic Leadership Certificate, the Provost Fellow program is intended to support the development of academic leaders at Dal. Keep an eye out for discussions of programs like this for staff as well. 
  • Our EDI efforts continue. Last week we accepted the report from the Lord Dal Panel on Race and Slavery, and we look forward to the completion of our African Nova Scotian Strategy. We have been moving forward on the report and recommendations from our Indigenous Task Force, and we have welcomed our new Vice-Provost Equity and Inclusion, Theresa Rajack-Talley. The work is important, as ours is a global and increasingly diverse world. I am proud of the work we are doing here at Dal. 

All in all, let me just say that it has been an eventful and amazing start to fall. Thank you to all who worked hard over the summer and delivered the continuity for the year, and an extra huge thank-you to the incredible effort by our staff in Security, Student Affairs, Residence, Communications and Facilities who have helped with move-in, orientation, and most importantly kept us safe, fed, and informed during the hurricane. Well done to all! 

Until next time, 

Teri Balser
Interim President and Vice-Chancellor 

August 7, 2019

Greetings all,

I hope your summer has been going well and you’ve had some time to relax and renew. I for one have been enjoying a bit of sunshine, and taking the opportunity to explore some of Nova Scotia! Beautiful place we have here.

I’ve just completed the first month as interim president, and have had a fantastic time learning more about what the role entails and how I can best serve Dal. In contrast to being provost, where my role is to act as a bridge or conduit between central university and our faculty, staff, and students - and to act as your champion, the role of president is focused on acting to bridge the university / academic world with that of community, industry, and government. I look forward to doing just that during the next several months. We have a lot to offer, and I’m proud to represent us.

A few updates, for those following along:

  • We had a successful Pride Week and Pride Parade. In fact, Dal’s float in the parade won the prize for best non-profit float. Very cool. I was pleased to march in the parade and also attend the flag raising ceremony in Halifax. It was great to see some of you there, and the enthusiasm and support even on such a hot weekend as it was!

  • I’ve heard a little bit about how the Learning Circles are progressing. They are not all equally active, but it sounds like there’s some good pockets of activity. I’m looking forward to hearing more about them on August 15th, when I get to touch base with Circle leaders and participants at the UClub.

  • After some long search processes (some longer than others!), we have been able to announce several new positions, and the renewal of our Dean for Graduate Studies. Congratulations to Deans Marty Leonard (Grad Studies), Dianne Tyers (Continuing Education), and Brenda Merritt (Health), and also congratulations and welcome to our new Vice-Provost Equity and Inclusion, Theresa Rajack-Talley. Theresa’s role is new to Dal, but will be instrumental in helping us maintain our momentum and work toward becoming a campus that values diversity and where people feel they belong. You can find all of the announcement memos posted here, and a Dal News story about Theresa here.

That’s all for now. Thank you, as always, for all you do.

Teri Balser
Interim President and Vice-Chancellor 

July 15, 2019

All -

Many of you are probably aware that I’ll be serving in a different capacity while we await the arrival of our new President; the Board has asked me to act as President and Vice-Chancellor until then.  I’m grateful for the trust placed in me, and also pleased at the opportunity to engage with our external partners and our region.  (Provosts don’t always get that chance!)

During the next six months, I plan to continue the style of communication I’ve had so far – sending a regular note to all staff and faculty to give updates.  It’ll be named “From the Interim President’s Desk” rather than “Across the Provost’s Desk” – but I’m still me!

As Interim President, I’ll still be leading our planning process, overseeing a review of all our international activities, and continuing to engage with you around EDI initiatives.  I’m excited to keep all that going.

For now, the learning circles are up and running.  Brightspace has seen some activity, especially in the areas of workplace wellness and sustainability.  I’m looking forward to seeing what we can come up with by the fall retreat.  I’m particularly interested in hearing your ideas about where we see higher education going – how can we set ourselves up for long-term success?  This is a critical conversation going forward, and one that was certainly top of mind during the engagement sessions last semester!

All the best,

Teri Balser
Interim President and Vice-Chancellor