Memos

Latest memos from the President's Office:


Celebrating Dalhousie’s 92nd Rhodes Scholar
 

November 23, 2020

I write today to share the fantastic news that Dalhousie student Sierra Sparks has been chosen as one of Canada’s Rhodes Scholars for the Class of 2021. Sierra becomes Dalhousie’s 92nd Rhodes Scholar and is one of only 11 students across the country chosen to receive the globally prestigious scholarship this year.   

Born and raised in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Sierra's undergraduate years as an electrical engineering student have been defined by academic excellence of the highest order. She is a Dalhousie's Chancellor's Scholar, currently maintaining a near-perfect GPA, and has held a Sexton Scholar designation since her first year. The Rhodes is just the latest in a long list of other honours Sierra has received over the years, including the Engineers Nova Scotia Award for outstanding promise to society, the Dalhousie Engineering Faculty Leadership Impact Award, the Wardens of Camp 7 Iron Ring First Place Award, and Sexton Leader designation for her co-curricular leadership outside the classroom.   

Sierra's dedication to her community and fellow students, particularly to young women and underrepresented groups looking to pursue studies and careers in STEM fields, shines through in her leadership efforts. She currently serves as Vice-President Academic for the Canadian Federation of Engineering Students, sits as a student Senator on Dalhousie Senate and has been a trailblazer for change in various roles with groups such as Dalhousie Women in Engineering. Sierra is a most deserving recipient of the Rhodes Scholarship, demonstrating incredible academic performance, community leadership and amazing personal accomplishments.  

Learn more about Sierra’s passions and achievements on Dal News.  

The continuing success of Dalhousie students in the Rhodes Scholarships is a proud part of our university’s legacy. Only a small handful of universities across North America can claim more Rhodes Scholars than Dalhousie; it is an area where we compete with the likes of Princeton, Stanford, McGill and U of T. Rhodes students must demonstrate character, commitment to others and the potential to become a world leader — all values shared by Dalhousie and our phenomenal students.  

As we look to grow Dalhousie's global reach and impact, Sierra’s successes demonstrate just how far our students can go on the international stage. Please join me in congratulating Sierra and in thanking the staff and faculty at Dalhousie who have supported her throughout the application process. 

Sincerely,  

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor    

Upcoming Holiday Season


November 19, 2020

As we approach the end of an exceptional, challenging year, the holiday season offers an opportunity to rest and reflect. We all know that, due to COVID-19 and public health protocols, it won’t be quite the same kind of holiday this year. That said, there is still much to celebrate — and so we must celebrate safely.

Holiday parties

Unfortunately, this year many of the holiday traditions that faculties and departments typically celebrate will need to be adjusted given public health protocols and our responsibilities under Occupational Health and Safety legislation.

While in-person holiday parties and other typical celebratory events for faculties and departments are strongly discouraged, we hope teams at Dalhousie find opportunities to come together safely and celebrate all you’ve achieved this year. Our Human Resources team has assembled a list of suggestions for teams who may wish to celebrate in a safe and modified way.

We are also planning a virtual event to commemorate the end of the year. More details on this will be available shortly.

December break

Recognizing the hard work everyone has put in this year and that our campus community will not be able to come together to celebrate as we normally would, we have decided to start the December break a little early.

Dalhousie will close for the full day on December 24 this year (instead of closing at noon). I hope you take the holiday break to relax, to celebrate safely with family or friends, or otherwise rejuvenate after a challenging year.

Sincerely,  

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor 

Call for Honorary Degree Nominations


November 2, 2020

The Senate Honorary Degrees Committee (SHDC) invites nominations for honorary degrees for future ceremonies.  

Through the awarding of honorary degrees, Dalhousie aims to recognize individuals whose accomplishments and achievements will inspire our graduates while reflecting the character and values of the University. SHDC invites nominations of candidates who reflect Canadian society and the University’s commitment to diversity including, but not limited to, Indigenous peoples (especially Mi’kmaq), members of racialized minority groups (especially historic African Nova Scotians), persons with disabilities, women and persons of minority sexual orientations and/or gender identities (SOGI).  

This year, in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and in line with Senate’s ratification of the motion in response to the #Strike4BlackLives Call to Action on September 14, 2020, nominations of members of the Black community are particularly encouraged. The Office of the Vice-Provost, Equity and Inclusion has offered its services to provide administrative support to nominators, specifically in regard to this aspect of the nomination process and for this category of nominees.  

To learn more about who is eligible for an honorary degree, click here.

To make a nomination, please complete the Honorary Degree Nomination Form in full. Questions can be directed to the University Secretariat at (902) 494-3715 or senate@dal.ca.

Completed nomination forms should be forwarded by Friday, December 11, 2020 to senate@dal.ca or mailed to:                      

Senate Honorary Degrees Committee
c/o Secretary of Senate
University Secretariat, Room 210, Henry Hicks AA Building
Dalhousie University
6299 South Street, Halifax, NS B3H 4R2

Your time and input are sincerely appreciated.

Sincerely,  

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor  

President and Vice-Chancellor  

Invitation to provide input: Provost and Vice-President Academic search


October 29, 2020

Dalhousie University is launching a comprehensive search for its next Provost and Vice-President Academic. We have engaged the search firm Boyden, one of the world’s leading executive search consultant firms, to assist with the search process. A search committee has also been formed and members of the search committee are listed below.

As you are aware, the Provost and Vice-President Academic is accountable to ensure that the University’s goals, plans and budgets are aligned in support of its academic mission. Given the importance of the Provost and Vice-President Academic’s role at Dalhousie, feedback from our community is essential to a successful search process.

The search committee has begun to engage the Dalhousie community in consultation regarding the experience and competencies that individual should possess. The information gathered through the consultation process will be used by the search committee to help inform candidate recruitment, assessment, and selection. It will also highlight areas requiring the attention of the next Provost and Vice-President Academic.

The consultation process will continue over the next month and will involve one-on-one and small group meetings as well as two virtual community town halls.  

The town halls will be held Tuesday, November 10th at 10:00 am and Thursday, November 19th at 2:00 pm over Teams. Those interested in attending either town hall should RSVP to POEvents@dal.ca by November 8th. Further information and the meeting link will be sent by November 9th to those who RSVP. Please indicate which of the town hall sessions you would like to attend in your RSVP.

In addition, you may also share your thoughts about the priorities for the next Provost and Vice-President Academic and the experience and competencies that individual should possess through this confidential electronic survey.  The survey is anonymous and should take less than 15 minutes to complete. The information will be summarized by the executive search firm Boyden. Except for interview questions that the committee will use, no direct quotes will be included in the summary report. We would appreciate if you could complete the survey by Monday, November 27th.

Finally, you may also provide input into the search by contacting Laura Godsoe, Executive Recruiter at Dalhousie, at laura.godsoe@dal.ca or 902-494-1112.

Search Committee Members:

  • Dr. Deep Saini, President and Vice-Chancellor (Chair)
  • Sherry Porter, Member of the Board of Governors
  • Dr. Alice Aiken, Vice-President, Research & Innovation
  • Gitta Kulczycki, Incoming Vice President Finance and Administration
  • Dr. Theresa Rajack-Talley, Vice Provost, Equity and Inclusion
  • Laura Neals, Director of Academic Staff Relations
  • Kim Brooks, Dean, Faculty of Management
  • Dr. David Gray, Dean, Campus Principal, Faculty of Agriculture
  • Dr. Kevin Hewitt, Professor, Department of Physics, Chair of Senate
  • Dr. Ahsan Habib, Director, School of Planning & Associate Professor, School of Planning
  • Dr. Gabrielle Horne, Associate Professor, Division of Cardiology
  • Madeleine Stinson, DSU President, Student Representative

Sincerely,

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor  

Decanal Review for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences


October 6, 2020

Dr. Frank Harvey’s term as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences formally ends on June 30, 2021. He has advised me that he wishes to be considered for a further 5-year term.

Dr. Harvey became Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences in July 2016, marking the start of a new chapter in a Dalhousie career that began in 1992 when he joined the Department of Political Science as a faculty member. Since May 2020, Dr. Harvey has been serving as Acting Provost and Vice-President Academic at Dalhousie.

Decanal reviews are key to university accountability and quality improvement processes. They are conducted on a regular cycle in keeping with our Senior Administrative Appointments Policy. It is routine that a decanal review process be initiated at this point for Dr. Harvey. Normally, this review would be Chaired by the Provost but given Dr. Harvey’s current role as Acting Provost, I will be acting as Chair of the process.

These review processes are also instrumental in providing an opportunity for feedback to the Dean should re-appointment be the result of the review.

As a first step in this process, a Decanal Review Committee for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences has been constituted by the Faculty. Members of this committee are listed below.

The review committee is interested in hearing opinions concerning the leadership areas identified in the University Core Terms of Reference for Deans.

Faculty, staff, students and external partners are encouraged to participate in these reviews.   

Opinions may be expressed in one of three ways: by filling out this anonymous survey, via email to Ms. Robin Beaton at Robin.Beaton@dal.ca or by submitting a request for a virtual interview with the committee to Robin via email or by calling 902-494-2511. Please fill out the survey, submit your input over email or request an interview by October 20th, 2020.

The survey is comprised of 12 questions total, 10 of which are open-text-box format. While you will be asked to identify your stakeholder group at the end of the survey, individual responses will be anonymous and all comments will be treated as confidential by the committee. Emails sent to Robin will be anonymized prior to sharing with the committee. Summaries of information obtained through this process may be shared with the Dean. Any such information will contain neither direct quotes nor any individual identifiers.

Additional information on the Office of the Dean of Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences may be found at https://www.dal.ca/faculty/arts.html

Committee Membership

  • Deep Saini, President and Vice-Chancellor (Chair)
  • Katherine Fierlbeck, Faculty Representative
  • Liesl Gambold, Faculty Representative
  • Anneke Henderson, Faculty Representative
  • Chike Jeffers, Faculty Representative
  • Jasmina Milicevic, Faculty Representative
  • Phil Zachernuk, Faculty Representative
  • Emmanuel Yiridoe, External Faculty Representative, Faculty of Agriculture
  • Yufan Wang, Student Representative  

Sincerely,

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor  

Follow-up from our recent Community Check-In and video link


October 2, 2020

Thank you to all faculty and staff who were able to join us for our Community Check-In last week. At peak we had nearly 800 participants logged in, which is truly exceptional given how much everyone has on their plate at this point in the academic year. For those who were unable to attend some or all of the live event, we have made the full video available, which you can access here. (NetID login required.)

Thank you, as well, for your thoughtful questions and comments. With only an hour available to us, I know there are many questions we unfortunately couldn’t get to. I encourage you to email additional questions to COVID19@dal.ca or the appropriate unit or department and we will work to answer them as best we can — please, keep the conversation going.

Above all else, I appreciated hearing directly from you about struggles with workload and the pressures you’re feeling in our current moment. I know you have heard much from me and the university’s senior leadership team in appreciation of your efforts, but we are also aware of just how difficult these past six months have been on our faculty, staff and students. We know from our Your Voice Pulse Check survey this summer that many of you say you are feeling concerned and burned out. Some of these stresses and strains are unique to higher education and Dalhousie, while other concerns are shared across sectors as we all struggle with the realities of this pandemic — including the uncertainty of how long we may be required to work this way.

As an employer, and as a community, we have to focus on our people at times such as these. That process begins with our senior leadership team and our shared commitment to support our faculty, staff and students. We are committed to working together to help address workload concerns, faculty and staff well-being, and ensuring a continued emphasis on equity, diversity and inclusion at Dalhousie. In addition to the $2 million recently invested in strategic initiative funding to support teaching and learning, assistance for online and blended delivery, and technology supports for faculty and students, we will soon be announcing an additional round of strategic initiative funding to address workload issues among both staff and faculty.

Leaders across the university will help their teams prioritize work that is mission-critical while pushing less-urgent projects or initiatives to the future. No one can do everything all at once — let alone during a pandemic. This is a key reason why we are resuming our strategic planning process: relying on the great work of our self-study teams to inform how, as an institution, we can focus our energies and resources on what matters most.

We also heard your concern for our students’ well-being during this challenging time and we are tremendously appreciative for everyone’s dedication and creativity to make this fall the best student experience possible. Our Student Affairs team is continuing to develop and provide important student health, wellness and academic support programs while ensuring safety remains a key priority.

Finally, focusing on our people means that when we do take on challenges together, we do so in the spirit of collaboration — particularly when difficult issues make their way to the bargaining table. I know that collective bargaining at this time may feel like an extra uncertainty on top of the other uncertainties we're struggling through, but it is an important process that allows us to address vital issues together with our employee groups. These issues include reforms to our pension plan — and let me reassure everyone once again that these reforms do not seek to change our defined benefit plan through drastic measures.

We have been working together with our employee groups at the Pension Advisory Committee and at collective bargaining tables for years to try and address some of the financial pressures tied to Dalhousie's pension plan. We have made some good progress, but these pressures are not static — they are getting more pronounced and require thoughtful and constructive adjustments focused on improving the plan’s long-term financial health while we protect the plan from the need for more significant changes in the future.

As we enter conciliation with the Dalhousie Faculty Association later this month (and discussions with our other employee groups), we remain confident that, working together, we will reach collaborative solutions to the matters at hand.

Your hard work and dedication to Dalhousie have gotten us through this pandemic thus far. Take care of yourselves first and let’s continue to work together through the challenges that lie ahead. I appreciate all of you sharing your feedback with us — your concerns are Dalhousie’s concerns, and together we will work to address them and emerge as a stronger university and a stronger community.

Best regards,  

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

Mi'kmaq History Month


September 30, 2020

In 1993, Premier John Savage and Mi’kmaw Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy declared October as the official month to recognize and celebrate Mi’kmaw culture and heritage. This time of year, known as Wikewiku’s among the Mi’kmaq, offers all of us an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the historic presence of the Mi’kmaq, the L’nuk, whose unceded territory we live on and who have lived here for over 14,000 years.  

The month officially begins with Treaty Day on October 1, first proclaimed by then Grand Chief Donald Marshall Sr. in 1986 to commemorate the key role of treaties between Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq and the Crown.   

Today, September 30, is also Orange Shirt Day — a day that acknowledges the residential school experience and the journey of survivors and their families to heal. This day is normally observed in September because it was this time of year when children were taken to residential schools. Orange shirts remind us of this history and to foster hope for future generations of children.   

While we are not able to celebrate Mi’kmaq History Month as we normally would — with in-person events like the campus Mawio’mi — we are committed to continuing these important celebrations and conversations virtually. The Office of the Vice-Provost, Equity & Inclusion and HRES are planning their next Speak Truth to Power Forum series event in October to provide engaging debate and discussions that can further enlighten our campus population and our extended community on the Mi’kmaq and the Indigenous Peace and Friendship Treaties. These and other events will be added to the HRES website as more details are available.   

At Dalhousie, we work, study and live on traditional and unceded Mi’kmaq territory. We have continued our efforts towards reconciliation through the hiring of a Director of Indigenous Community Engagement to support our commitment and connection to the community and the permanent installation of the Mi’kmaq Grand Council Flag on our Halifax and Truro campuses. We are currently working diligently to move our Indigenous Studies Minor towards a major; enhancing the Elders in Residence Program; and supporting the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Hub, the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Legacy Space and the Indigenous Student Centre, to name just a few examples. In addition to these inroads and ongoing efforts, we are committed to doing more.   

Catherine Martin, our Director of Indigenous Community Engagement, reminds us of the concept of “two-eyed seeing,” defined as, “To see from one eye with the strengths of Indigenous ways of knowing, and to see from the other eye with the strengths of Western ways of knowing, and to use both of these eyes together.” (Bartlett, Marshall, & Marshall, 2012, p. 335). Let us remember to keep our eyes open and our minds curious as we welcome and learn from this important time of year.  

Wela’lin (thank you),  

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor  

Theresa Rajack-Talley
Vice-Provost, Equity and Inclusion

Fall graduation celebrations


September 29, 2020

Graduation is a significant milestone, not only for our students, but for their supporters as well.

To our newest members of the Dalhousie Class of 2020 graduating this fall, I commend you on your perseverance and accomplishments. Never before has the world been more in need of your ingenuity, passion and purpose. We are all rooting for you.

To our faculty and staff, you have contributed to helping these individuals on their path to this important moment. And although we are unable to celebrate our graduates together in person this fall, I am writing today to share details about how you may participate in our celebrations from wherever you are.

The Class of 2020 Digital Yearbook launches today, and will serve as a space to share in the excitement with our newest graduates. We invite all graduates to share photos and memories of their years at Dal, as well as the ways they will be celebrating their achievements with their families and friends. Supporters, faculty and staff are also able to share congratulatory posts, photos, video and links easily here.

On Friday, October 16 at 2 p.m., the university will host a Convocation Celebration event via Teams Live. This is an opportunity for graduates, their families and friends, and our faculty and staff to come together at one time and celebrate their achievements. Graduates will be receiving an Outlook invitation to this event and are welcome to pass the invitation on to their supporters to join in our celebration.

In addition to celebrating virtually, we are also bringing a bit of Convocation directly to our graduates. The university will be sending each graduate a special Convocation package in the mail shortly that will include their parchment, a Convocation keepsake booklet and a few other surprises.

Finally, we know that many of our graduates will still want their chance to walk across the Convocation stage in person at some point, and we intend to be in touch with them to ensure all have the opportunity to do so.

I hope that you will join me in the weeks ahead in wishing our graduates well as they officially join a community of more than 150,000 alumni who are making an impact in their communities, here in Canada and around the world.   

Sincerely,   

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

Dal Reads 2020/21


September 28, 2020

It is my pleasure to provide you with a link to borrow the eBook version of the Dal Reads 2020/21 book, The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline. This is the first year that we are offering an eBook only option for Dal Reads. This eBook is available for an unlimited number of simultaneous users exclusively through the Dalhousie Libraries.

Cherie Dimaline is a member of the Georgian Bay Métis community in Ontario. She lives in Vancouver where she is working on the sequel to The Marrow Thieves and the forthcoming TV adaptation. She has published five books.  

The Dal Reads book is selected by a diverse committee that is committed to fostering equity, diversity and inclusion at the university. This has informed the selection of the book over the last few years.  

The Marrow Thieves is a story that touches on themes related to residential schools, Indigenous knowledge, survival, and theft, among others. It won the Governor General’s Award and the Kirkus Prize for Young Readers and was the fan favourite for CBC’s 2018 Canada Reads.  

Dal Reads is the unity reading program at Dalhousie, designed to encourage community engagement and thought-provoking dialogue among readers. There will be opportunities throughout the academic year to take part in events related to the book, and your professors may discuss The Marrow Thieves. You can also join conversations about The Marrow Thieves on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using #DalReads.

I encourage you to take the opportunity to use this book to begin meaningful conversations at Dalhousie. 

Sincerely,   

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

Your Voice workplace survey results


September 25, 2020


Thank you to all faculty and staff who participated in the 2019 Your Voice workplace survey, which was conducted last November and then followed up with a Pulse Check survey in July 2020. With a new school year now underway, I wanted to share the results with you.

As many of you have heard me say, our people are what makes Dalhousie such a special place to work. This is particularly true given what we have faced in the past six months with the COVID-19 pandemic. The perseverance, adaptability, and collaboration that faculty and staff have shown throughout these challenging times is extraordinary.

I am pleased to report a 42 percent response rate, which represents a significant increase from the last Your Voice survey in 2017.

Based on the results from the survey, the vast majority of you said that you are motivated to do a good job, trust your own leader, feel that you make a positive contribution and have a sense of accomplishment from your work. However, some of you indicated that you are having challenges with your workload, you do not feel recognized and would like to receive more feedback on performance. I assure you that we take this feedback seriously and we are committed to taking action to address these concerns.

Since the university’s move to online teaching and remote working in March, it is not surprising that the Pulse Check follow-up survey results showed that faculty want to see more support for online teaching, and experienced challenges with work-life blending, and juggling childcare responsibilities. In addition, staff cited job security, as well as the desire to be more involved in decision making as being significant concerns. You can read more about the survey results in this Dal News story.

Leaders play a vital role in ensuring employees’ feedback is heard and in always working to improve within our individual faculties and departments. Earlier this summer, detailed results by faculty and administrative department were shared with the senior leaders of each area. Faculty and staff will learn more about their areas’ individual results through communications and dialogue planned by the leaders as they work on developing action plans to address the survey results. Results are also available by demographic identifiers, like ethnicity and disability, and will be reviewed with stakeholder groups.

I invite you to attend a virtual presentation of the university’s institutional survey results hosted by the Human Resources department on October 2, 9:30 -10:30 a.m. via Microsoft Teams. Register here to attend.

The full survey report, along with the follow-up report, are available on the Human Resources site on myDal.

Despite the challenges we have faced with COVID-19, our faculty and staff have demonstrated commitment and resilience. Together, we will emerge stronger and will continue to make Dalhousie one of the best workplaces in Canada. 

Sincerely,   

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

Commitment to Mi'kmaq and Indigenous communities


September 23, 2020

Diversity and Inclusiveness are part of Dalhousie’s core values. We acknowledge that Dalhousie University sits on the ancestral, unceded, and unsurrendered territory of the Mi’kmaq Nation. As Peace and Friendship Treaty beneficiaries, we have a responsibility to continuously educate ourselves and work in solidarity with Mi'kmaq and other Indigenous communities. We respect the 1752 Peace and Friendship Treaty, the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the 1999 Supreme Court of Canada’s Marshall Decision and their associated applications — all of which reinforce the core rights of Indigenous peoples.

Negative comments against the Indigenous community exercising their right to a livelihood are not reflective of Dalhousie’s core values and those specific to the Indigenous/Mi’kmaq peoples. This includes any disparaging comments by any Dalhousie community member(s). Such comments reflect the need for greater understanding of Indigenous people and their rights, and Dalhousie continues to be committed to furthering education and improved understanding in our community and beyond.

We are reminded by the Director of Indigenous Community Engagement at Dalhousie, Catherine Martin, who herself is a Mi’kmaw woman, that reconciliation is about owning what has happened …telling the truth.  At Dalhousie, despite the ongoing expansion of Indigenous programming and initiatives, shortcomings remain. There is more work to do so that our non-Indigenous community understands the history, culture and current issues of the Indigenous/Mi’kmaq people, including the Atlantic Peace & Friendship Treaties.

We want to use this teachable moment to assure our community and the broader Mi’kmaq and Indigenous community that there is ongoing Equity, Diversity and Inclusiveness work at the university that is committed to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action. We also want to use this moment to rededicate our efforts in redressing our institutional colonial history and the impact on Indigenous/Mi’kmaq faculty, staff, students and community. We are reminded that as an institution of higher education we have a social obligation to provide an education that combats systemic racism and all forms of discrimination and intolerance. We will continue to be guided by the Indigenous Advisory Council and other Indigenous/Mi’kmaq members on our campus as well as through our community outreach by that of the Elders and the wider Indigenous communities.   

We encourage members of the Dalhousie community to learn more about Treaty rights, some information is available at UNDRIPTRC Calls to ActionTreaty Education in NS.

Also, below are some support services on campus:

  • The Elders in Residence program is available to students across campus, The Elders are committed to being available to students for guidance, counsel and support.
  • The Indigenous Student Centre helps create a sense of belonging to support student success while at Dalhousie. Our Indigenous Student Advisor provides support and advocacy for all of Dalhousie’s Indigenous students.
  • Dalhousie’s Human Rights and Equity Services provides confidential advice and support if a member of our community has faced race-based harassment and/or discrimination.

As part of the Speak Truth to Power series organized by Dalhousie’s Human Rights and Equity Services, a virtual forum focused on education about Indigenous histories in Nova Scotia will be held in October in conjunction with Mi’kmaq History Month. More details to follow.

Lastly, we urge everyone to come together and support one another through these challenging circumstances, ensuring we act respectfully and compassionately towards one another in alignment with our values.

Sincerely,

Theresa Rajack-Talley
Vice-Provost, Equity & Inclusion

Deep Saini
President & Vice-Chancellor

Enrolment and budget planning update


September 22, 2020

First, I want to acknowledge the hard work of our faculty and staff over these last several months and hope you are doing well as we continue to work together through this extraordinary time. I know that many of you have made sacrifices to ensure that our students’ academic experience is the best that it can be under these challenging conditions. Please know that on behalf of the entire university community we are extremely grateful to each of you for these efforts.   

I am writing to share updates on a few important topics as the academic year gets underway in earnest.

Update on enrolment

We embarked on planning for this academic year in the face of unprecedented enrolment uncertainty. We planned carefully and cautiously to protect our academic mission from significant financial risks but also, just as importantly, to support our students and ensure they felt confident continuing their studies through this pandemic.

Preliminary enrolment this fall has exceeded what was outlined in our initial scenario planning back in May and June. As we updated last month, we were hopeful given signs that our enrolment was showing strong numbers. We can report to you now that as of September 20, our overall enrolment has increased 3.8% over the same time last year, with a 4.8% increase in domestic students and a 0.6% increase in international students. We also see an increase when we consider individual credit units — enrolment in credit units is up 3.8%.

While there remain risks and uncertainties related to enrolment and retention, our result thus far is worth celebrating, and it is an accomplishment in which all of you have played a crucial role. This includes faculty who have worked tirelessly through the summer to innovate and prepare for the academic term, our staff and front-line workers supporting our students and continuing mission-critical work, and certainly our students themselves who remain focused on carrying forward on their academic journeys. Our stronger enrolment picture means we will not need to implement any wage rollbacks for Dalhousie employees. On behalf of all of Dalhousie University: thank you for all you do.

Update on budget planning

While we pause to recognize the strong work that has brought us to today, we also acknowledge that there are still significant financial risks to be managed through this pandemic. Revenue declines are anticipated in several ancillary areas, enrolment and retention numbers could soften through the academic year, and we do not know how provincial funding might change given current government deficits. We need to keep an eye on the long-term impacts of a prolonged pandemic, be mindful of a possible resurgence of the virus and be prepared for knock-on impacts on Dalhousie of weakened Canadian and global economies.

Now that enrolment is known, work will be done to prepare a full operating budget for 2020-21, which will be reviewed and approved by the Board in November. Improved revenues from stronger enrolment will allow us to review and reconsider some of the fiscal prudence measures outlined in the June Fiscal Update. Though we still expect an overall shortfall in some revenue streams that will need to be addressed, results will be significantly better than originally anticipated. Our approach will still need to balance financial risk with an eye on the long term, and where possible make thoughtful, measured and strategic investments in our academic mission, in our people, and in supports for students.

We will share more details with our community as the operating budget plan takes shape in the coming weeks.

Update on collective bargaining and pension

Collective bargaining is underway with the Dalhousie Faculty Association (DFA) and our NSGEU Locals. The Board’s first proposals, tabled in June, reflected the uncertainty and significant financial risks of this COVID-19 pandemic as we then understood them. As aspects of our enrolment for the year become more certain and the specifics of our financial risks become clearer, we are committed to revising and adjusting these proposals accordingly.

We have advised both DFA and the NSGEU Locals that we will no longer be seeking wage rollbacks. However, DFA has advised us that they will be seeking the assistance of a conciliator through the Department of Labour. We had hoped for the opportunity to discuss our revised proposals with DFA, however we welcome the assistance of the conciliator and we are confident that we can reach agreement with our unions on the matters that remain at issue.

As has been shared publicly by our unionized colleagues, pension has also been a discussion point at the bargaining table. The defined-benefit Dalhousie Pension Plan is an integral part of our total compensation package, and it is shared by all our employees: unionized and non-unionized employees, faculty, researchers, staff and senior administration. It is important to discuss the ongoing stability and viability of our pension plan with all members. Our unwavering commitment is to ensure a strong defined-benefit pension plan for all our employees now and for the future.

These discussions about the pension plan are not new — either at the bargaining table or with our plan members. While it has remained one of the most generous university plans in Canada, the Dalhousie Pension Plan has been underfunded for almost 20 years. For years, there have been ongoing efforts to implement reforms to strengthen the plan and expedite its path to funded status without affecting its core benefit. We’ve made progress on various issues, together with the cooperation and support of our employee groups, but overall the plan has remained underfunded and it is almost certain to remain so without further reform.

We cannot afford to push pension reform down the road: the time for cost-saving reforms to protect our defined-benefit pension plan is now.

We are eager to continue our collaborative, productive relationships with our employee groups as we work through these reform options together. Together, we will ensure a defined-benefit pension now and for the future while meeting our fiduciary duty to ensure our plan’s long-term sustainability.

For more information on Dalhousie’s pension, please visit the Dalhousie Pension Plan website. For regular updates on collective bargaining, visit our Labour Relations website.

Reminder of Community Check-In

This has truly been a year of many challenges, so as we prepare for a significant weather event tonight, I ask that everyone be safe and take all precautions necessary.

Our Community Check-In event is scheduled for this Thursday from 1-2 p.m. via Microsoft Teams Live (NetID login required), but we’ll keep in close touch over the next few days to ensure our community fares well through the storm. I hope to see you there or, if you cannot join us, I encourage you to catch up with the recorded video that will be shared following the event.

Thank you, again, for all you do for Dalhousie and our students each and every day.

Sincerely,   

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

Welcome to the new academic year


Sept. 8, 2020

With today marking the first day of classes for most programs at the university, it is my distinct pleasure to wish you well as we start a new academic year. If you are new to Dalhousie – welcome. And if you are returning – welcome back!   

We begin this year in a unique moment in history, as we work together to respond to the challenges presented by COVID-19. On a day when campus would normally be bustling with our new and returning students making their way to their first classes, most of you are instead working and learning remotely — some here in Nova Scotia, others across Canada and around the world.    

So yes, from orientation to course instruction, many of our plans this year have had to shift online or undergo other changes to ensure our collective health and safety. All spring and summer long, Dal faculty and staff have worked tirelessly to bring this fall term to life, demonstrating extraordinary effort and commitment. Through it all, who we are as Dalhousians remains: a community devoted to scholarship, learning and discovery and committed to excellence, impact and inclusion. We are thrilled that you chose to be part of this exceptional group of people.     

While we are not able to hold an in-person Induction Ceremony for our new students this year, I encourage you to watch this video of the Dalhousie University Pledge and learn about or revisit the values foundational to our community. I also encourage all students to get to know Dalhousie, access campus resources to help you succeed, and connect with your peers on the new Dal Mobile App.   

I truly look forward to seeing what all of you will contribute to our vibrant university community this year. And I am confident that we will approach the beginning of this new academic year the same way we always do: with renewed energy, enthusiasm and optimism about what we can achieve together as One Dal.   

Please remember to look after yourselves and each other in the days and weeks ahead, taking care in all aspects of your health and well-being. Wishing you the very best for the semester ahead, and I look forward to the chance to meet you on campus as soon as possible.   

Sincerely,   

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

Fall outlook: Update on phased return to campus


August 21, 2020

I hope you are all well as we approach the end of August and the start of the fall term. Before September arrives, I wanted to reach out with an update on several items: 

  • Return to campus phased planning 
  • Enrolment and financial outlook 
  • Winter term instruction 
  • Campus services, events and travel 
  • Safety protocols  

First, let me express sincere thanks to all of our faculty and staff on behalf of the entire university for everything that is being done in support of our students, our academic and research missions, and our community as a whole. Please know your tireless efforts are widely recognized and truly appreciated.   

Faculty and support staff have been working very hard throughout the winter and summer terms to ensure courses are ready to be delivered in-person (accredited programs) and online. Record attendance in teaching and learning workshops — 3,800 registrants in more than 25 workshops over the past three months — speaks volumes about your efforts to provide our students with the strongest possible academic programing this fall and winter. For those accredited programs conducting some instruction in person, every measure is being taken to ensure these classes are held safely and in line with Dalhousie's occupational health and safety guidelines. Our residences are preparing to welcome students to Halifax and Truro in reduced capacity to ensure everyone’s health and well-being. Some research labs have re-opened, as have some of our library spaces and fitness facilities by appointment.  

It has taken a great deal of hard work, detailed planning and cross-campus collaboration to get us to this point. Many faculty and staff will continue to work from home, and many of our students will be completing their courses from across Canada and around the world, but we remain united as One Dal joined by a common commitment to learning, discovery, impact and delivering high-quality academic programs consistent with Dalhousie's excellent reputation. Dalhousie can take pride in how we are meeting extraordinary circumstances together in the midst of an ongoing global pandemic.   

Return to Campus phased planning  

Phase I of our Return to Campus (RTC) is now complete. We’ve returned to campus many of our employees who were not able to work from home, reopened some research labs, begun some on-campus instruction for our accredited programs, and created bookable space for faculty to record online lecture materials.   

Phase II of our Return to Campus, currently underway, prioritizes academic continuity, student supports and the resumption of a wider range of research operations and carefully scheduled office access, with the goal of continuing a gradual and safe return of our community to the physical campus. Employees who can work from home will continue to work virtually in this phase as we continue to target on-campus numbers to be under 25% of our population to help limit the potential spread of COVID-19. Deans and unit leaders are in the process of developing plans for Phase II and Phase III (winter), all of which will be reviewed and approved by our Return to Campus committee.  

Enrolment and financial outlook  

Though some uncertainty remains, fall registration numbers are encouraging to this point, leaving us cautiously optimistic that enrolment is turning out better than originally modeled.  

This is not to say that fiscal prudence is no longer needed: we will continue to operate under the measures outlined in the June Fiscal Update until our full enrolment picture becomes clear later in September and the Board approves a complete budget plan. We still expect revenue declines in several key areas, and a deficit budget for the year remains a possibility — but if enrolment trends continue, the deficit will be less than initially projected.   

These results are a strong reflection on our collective efforts to support our students. Thank you for your ongoing hard work — it is rewarding to think that we may be seeing the results of all your efforts to ensure our students feel supported and encouraged to continue their studies this fall.  

Winter term instruction  

As was communicated by Acting Provost and Vice-President Academic Frank Harvey earlier this week, we are working to provide a mix of online and in-person instruction for the winter term set to begin in January 2021A significant majority of courses will continue to be online both for health and access reasons (supporting students unable to travel to Halifax or Truro). Some courses with accreditation requirements or significant experiential learning components will be delivered safely in person. Other courses will be in a hybrid or blended format. Details will be shared as Faculties complete and submit their respective academic program plans over the next few weeks. 

The Academic Timetable will be updated to reflect academic delivery information for Winter 2021, and we hope to have all updates posted by mid-September.  

Campus services, events, travel 

  • Campus services: Some university service units have been resuming in-person services while others continue to operate virtually. Visit the Campus Services page on Dal’s COVID-19 website for details on specific services. 
  • Events: To ensure continued safety as we enter Phase II of our Return to Campus planning, we are not permitting indoor events on campus until at least October 15. Outdoor events will be considered provided a safety plan is completed, approved and followed and space is available. Requests for outdoor events can be submitted through the Campus Bookings process. (Events already approved by the Return to Campus committee do not need to be re-submitted.) 
  • Travel: While university-funded travel remains suspended until 2021 as a cost-reduction measure, those who wish to travel internationally using their research funds or funds from the Dalhousie Faculty Association (DFA) Travel Fund are permitted to do so in accordance with Dalhousie’s International Travel Policy. More information.  

Safety Protocols  

By adhering to public health guidelines, Nova Scotia has done well to limit the spread of COVID-19. However, as we see in other jurisdictions around the world, the threats posed by a global pandemic remain significant. The most important thing we can do to protect our collective health and safety while continuing to bring more activity back to campus is to follow approved health and safety protocols.  

For those of you who will be on campus this fall, some of the measures you can expect include: 

  • Non-medical masks are to be worn in indoor common spaces. This includes public spaces like buildings, libraries, dining areas, residences, hallways, stairwells, elevators and common study areas. More info on mask protocols can be found here. We will be making masks available for employees working on campus; details on how Faculty/unit leaders can safely pick up masks to supply to their faculty/staff will be shared shortly.  
  • Everyone is expected to maintain a safe physical distance of two metres (or six feet) whenever possible. You’ll find directional arrows and one-way signage in many hallways, stairwells and corridors, and some services will be delivered through a physical barrier (such as a plexiglass divider). 
  • Our Custodial Services team is ensuring frequent cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces in common building areas, including doorknobs, light switches, handrails, bathrooms and more. 
  • Detailed safety plans are in place for all in-person instruction (programs in Medicine, Dentistry, select Health professions and the Veterinary Technology program).  
  • Continued commitment to Nova Scotia public health protocols is essential. In addition to the above, this includes frequent hand washing, following social distance guidelines, staying home if you don’t feel well and contacting *811 if you experience any COVID-19 symptoms.  
  • For students coming or returning to Nova Scotia this fall, the Student Affairs, Dalhousie Student Union, Residence and Faculty Teams have developed robust safety and orientation programs to ensure both a memorable and sound student experience.  
  • Finally, you may have seen yesterday’s announcement from the Province of Nova Scotia on new protocols for COVID-19 testing for students arriving in Nova Scotia from outside Atlantic Canada. This information has also been shared with all our students. Learn more here.  

For more information regarding on-campus safety, you can review Dalhousie’s institutional Return to Campus Guidance procedures and Safety Training Video (which is required viewing for those working on campus). We encourage everyone to keep up-to-date on the latest Nova Scotia health protocols at novascotia.ca/coronavirus.

More information  

Please visit Dalhousie’s COVID-19 Updates and Information website to stay up to date on the latest information on the fall term, campus services and Return to Campus planning.   

Thank you again for your tireless efforts to make this fall as meaningful an educational experience as possible for our students. Please find time to relax and enjoy the remainder of these warm summer days.  

Sincerely,   

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

Pride at Dalhousie


July 13, 2020

Many around the world celebrate Pride Month in June, but here in Nova Scotia and at Dalhousie we celebrate our LGBTQ2SIA+ communities in July. We honour their continued right to be their true and authentic selves and support their struggles for equality. Though we are unable to have in-person celebrations on our campuses this year, we are still taking the opportunity to recognize Pride and raise the Rainbow and Transgender Flags on Dalhousie’s Studley Quad today, Monday, July 13 at noon. A virtual flag raising ceremony will be livestreamed on Dalhousie Student Life’s Instagram and also recorded for closed captioned viewing on Dalhousie’s YouTube channel. We will also be raising flags on our Sexton Campus and our Agricultural Campus in Truro.

The different colours of the Pride Flag (including the brown and black stripes to recognize intersectionalities) are not only reflective of the diversity that makes up the LGBTQ2SIA+ community, but also Dalhousie’s commitment to creating a more diverse campus — one that recognizes the uniqueness of individuals and groups while striving for equity and inclusion.

As an institution of higher learning, it is our responsibility to educate ourselves and others about the proud history of the LGBTQ2SIA+ community. Pride is often associated with the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York against unwarranted police attacks on the LGBTQ2SIA+ community. Today, we commemorate Pride within the broader conversation about anti-Black racism and amidst protests against police violence — similar to those in 1969 led by many Black and racialized trans women. Canada has its own rich LGBTQ2SIA+ history. For the past 50 years, the LGBTQ2SIA+ community and its allies fought for and won certain basic human rights, decriminalizing homosexuality, getting access to benefits, protection for immigrants and refugees, and the right to civil marriage. Last year, the World Health Organization voted to no longer categorize transgender as a mental disorder.

Here at Dalhousie, we encourage our faculty, staff, students, alumni and administrators to pause, celebrate and reenergize. The full acceptance, safety and practice of inclusiveness for our LGBTQ2SIA+ community is critical to the university’s success, with multiple on-campus groups working hard to create accessible and inclusive programming that supports LGBTQ2SIA+ communities, educates allies, and creates opportunities for visibility and dialogue without fear. Dalhousie’s Queer Faculty and Staff Caucus will be organizing several virtual events this summer; please continue to visit their website for more information.

Dalhousie University sits on the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq. As we celebrate Pride, we would also like to acknowledge the Two-Spirit and Indigenous LGBTQ2SIA+ individuals and communities of Nova Scotia and the Wabanaki Two-Spirit Alliance.

This month serves as an important reminder of the challenges that LGBTQ2SIA+ individuals and communities have overcome, the challenges they still face, and the role we can play as allies for more diverse, inclusive and accessible higher education for all. Let’s celebrate our diversity together as One Dal.

Sincerely,   

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

Theresa Rajack-Talley
Vice-Provost, Equity & Inclusion

Follow-up from our recent Community Check-In


July 9, 2020

Thank you to all faculty and staff who were able to join us for our recent Annual Progress Report and Community Check-In. We had more than 900 attendees at the event, and great engagement in the Q&A that followed the presentation.

For those who were unable to attend some or all of the live event, we have made the full video available, which you can access here. (NetID login required.) I also invite you to review our Annual Progress Report document, now online, which provides more detail on Dal’s achievements and milestones over the past year.

In addition to sharing these resources, I wanted to share more information around a few items that came up in the Q&A discussion. Some of these relate to questions that were answered during the session, and others we did not have time to get to.

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Return to Campus

As previously communicated, this month some of our academic, research and staff community will be returning to campus. This first phase of Return to Campus remains focused on those whose work requires them to be on campus and whose work can be accomplished safely. As of the end of June, approximately 1,300 employees have been approved to return to campus.

Shortly, we will be reaching out to deans, service unit leaders and research PIs to gather information to help guide our second phase of Return to Campus, focused on identifying who is required to return to campus later this summer and into the fall and what safety protocols will be necessary to support their health and well-being. More information will be shared broadly in the coming weeks. We still expect a majority of our faculty and staff to continue their work remotely in this phase.

Some have inquired as to how changing guidelines from the Province of Nova Scotia with respect to gatherings affect our return to campus and research operations. Our plans exist within an occupational health and safety framework and not one that applies to events and gatherings, but we are working closely with the Province to ensure full alignment on our planning.

Equity, diversity and inclusion

I was glad to see questions asked about our efforts to confront anti-Black racism and all discrimination — including discrimination against Indigenous people and LBGTQ2SIA+ individuals — as we work towards a Dalhousie that is inclusive, diverse and equitable for all. We are living through a truly historic moment right now, one that asks for reflection, for consideration — and for thoughtful action.

Dalhousie has had many reports over recent years, with many excellent recommendations, and good work has been done. But we need to do a better job communicating what we have done and what we still need to do. Currently, we are distilling the many recommendations to identify our top priorities for immediate and sustained action, under the leadership of our Vice-Provost Equity & Inclusion Dr. Theresa Rajack-Talley. This includes but is not limited to changes in Dal’s curricula, in research, in operations, and in services and supports. (As Theresa discussed in the Q&A, one of the items that will be shared for consultation this fall is a new and comprehensive Racialized Violence Policy for Dalhousie.) And while we all must stand with Theresa and help enable her success, each of us must also take organizational and individual responsibility to make our community a safer, more inclusive and healthier place for all to live, work and study.

Collective bargaining

With contracts expiring, Dalhousie’s Board is set to begin negotiations with the DFA and Dal’s NSGEU locals in the coming weeks. In mid-June, university leaders met with union leadership and shared the details of our Fiscal Update (later shared with our broader faculty and staff community on June 24) as well as initial bargaining proposals. These informed several of the questions asked during the Q&A.

Respecting the process of collective bargaining, we would not ordinarily share the details of any proposals broadly until bargaining is concluded. However, as aspects of the Board’s opening proposal were shared by the unions, allow me to reiterate our commitment that salary agreements achieved through collective bargaining will also be applied to senior administrators. Our budget challenge is a shared challenge, and we must solve it together.

We believe in working together with our employee groups on solutions that will allow us to emerge stronger through these difficult times. Our focus remains on delivering our academic mission, on supporting all of our people, and on working creatively and collaboratively to avoid more significant job-related impacts and identify additional cost-saving measures across the institution, including a balance of salary restraint and structural changes that ensure the ongoing stability of our defined-benefit pension plan.

Discussions with government

The uncertainty Dal faces in its operating budget is shared across Nova Scotia’s postsecondary institutions, and recent media coverage has raised questions about government funding and support.

Nova Scotia’s universities have a positive working relationship with the provincial government. University leadership teams are in regular dialogue with the Government of Nova Scotia on a wide variety of issues, and the government is aware of the re-opening and financial challenges facing universities as we prepare for the fall semester. On Dalhousie’s part, we are focused on solutions and how we can continue to work collaboratively and cooperatively with government around these challenges.

Parking

As we gain more clarity around course delivery and Return to Campus planning for the fall, decisions will need to be made regarding any potential changes to parking policies, procedures and passes. This is a topic that will be considered through our Return to Campus committee, and we will share more information as soon as it is available.

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My thanks, again, to everyone who took part in our event. It’s a sign of a great institution when people feel comfortable sharing their views openly. Even though the issues we work through are sometimes difficult, it’s through this sort of dialogue that we learn just how much we have in common. Let’s continue to rely on those points of common ground as we work together, as One Dal, to build an even stronger university.

For ongoing updates regarding the fall term, Return to Campus planning and more, visit Dal’s COVID-19 Information and Updates site.

Sincerely,

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

University closure - July 2 & 3


June 25, 2020

The demands and flexibility required in response to COVID-19 have been difficult for all of us, and our Dalhousie community has adapted very quickly to the continued challenges and changes.  

In recognition of everyone’s efforts, and in alliance with some of our U15 partners, Dalhousie will remain closed on July 2 & 3, 2020. Please take this opportunity to enjoy an extra-long weekend, refresh, and recharge.

Thank you for your extraordinary efforts in support of our students.

Deep

Sincerely,

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

Changes to Dalhousie executive team


June 23, 2020

At this week’s meeting of the Dalhousie Board of Governors, the Board approved two appointments to the university’s executive team.

Appointment of Vice-President Finance and Administration

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Gitta Kulczycki as Vice-President Finance and Administration, effective November 2, 2020.

Gitta is currently serving as Vice-President Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer at the University of Alberta, a role she’s held since 2016. She has dedicated significant time to developing a new multi-year planning process, developing and implementing a new budget model, and enhancing the transparency and understanding of financial information. Through her leadership, the University of Alberta has also joined an international benchmarking initiative focused on service satisfaction and efficiency in administrative processes.  

Over the course of her 35-year career, Gitta has held senior leadership roles in the post-secondary, health-care and high-tech sectors, including 12 years as Vice-President Resources and Operations at Western University. She has also been Vice-President and CFO for Grand River Hospital in Kitchener, the South East Health Care Corporation in Moncton, and the Calgary General Hospital.

Gitta is a collaborative and thoughtful leader with a deep-seated commitment to universities and their vital academic mission. She is past President and past Chair of the Canadian Association of University Business Officers (CAUBO). Among the many community and industry associations she’s been involved with are Financial Executives International (FEI) Canada, the County of Lambton Community Development Corporation, the TechAlliance of Southwestern Ontario, and the Bioindustrial Innovation Centre. She holds a Commerce degree from Laurentian University, an MBA from the University of Ottawa and a Chartered Professional Accountant designation. Please join me in welcoming Gitta to Dalhousie.

Here is what Gitta wished to share with our Dal community on her appointment:  

“As I’ve had the opportunity to engage with Dal, I’ve been struck by the warmth and energy of the people I’ve met. I can’t wait to join Deep and the Dal community.”

We’d also like to congratulate Ian Nason, our outgoing Vice-President Finance and Administration, on his four decades of outstanding contributions to Dalhousie. As many of you know, Ian delayed his retirement to support our university community through various transitions over the past couple of years, and his leadership through this pandemic, in particular, has been invaluable. Thank you, Ian, and we wish you every happiness in your well-earned retirement, set to begin at the end of July (though he plans to be available to support Gitta’s transition process this fall). Interim leadership in the VPFA portfolio will be announced shortly.  

I invited Ian to share a few words as well:

“I’d like to thank the Finance and Administration team for their support and continued excellence during my tenure. I have relied on their talents, counsel and commitment to the Dal community in so many different ways over the years. I know Gitta will be able to count on them the same way I have. Gitta, and Dalhousie, are in great hands.”

Appointment of Acting Vice-President, Government and Global Relations

After nine years of service as Dalhousie’s Executive Director of International Relations, Dr. Alain Boutet, will be retiring from his role as of August 31, 2020. Alain has led the development and implementation of Dalhousie's first International Strategy which has generated significant international academic partnerships and internationalization of our campuses. We thank Alain for his dedicated stewardship of Dalhousie’s global relationships. I personally congratulate Alain on this meaningful life transition, and I encourage you all to reach out to Alain directly to offer your well wishes and gratitude for his many contributions.

Last year Dalhousie launched an external review of our International portfolio. Internationalization was also one of the many themes explored by our self-study teams in our strategic planning. Taking this work into account, we will be implementing preliminary changes to Dalhousie’s International portfolio over the coming months to further enhance the university’s global leadership in its third century.

The first of these changes will be that, effective August 1, 2020 and for a one-year term, responsibility for leadership of Dal’s international strategy will move into the president’s executive team in an adjusted position. Matt Hebb will now lead Dal’s International portfolio, in addition to his existing Government Relations responsibilities. Matt’s position will be changed to Acting Vice-President Government and Global Relations (VPGGR) and will continue to report to me directly. To assist with this period of transition and ensure a successful on-boarding, Alain has agreed to stay on as an advisor to our incoming VPGGR.  

I am grateful to Matt for taking on these new responsibilities, and I hope that all of you share in my excitement about what’s ahead for Dalhousie when it comes to our International activity. Our university’s global reach has never been broader, and it will only continue to grow in the years to come. 

Sincerely,

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

Response to unjust racial tragedies


June 1, 2020

Diversity, Equity and Inclusiveness are part of Dalhousie’s core values. It is within this context that we acknowledge the anger, pain, fear, frustration and anxiety that so many are experiencing in response to the unjust racial tragedies experienced by Black people in North America and beyond. We unequivocally condemn the racist acts that have sparked such broad outrage and social action.

As an institution of higher learning, we cannot remain silent. We have an obligation to provide an education that combats systemic anti-Black racism and all forms of discrimination and intolerance; to engage our students in critical thinking and research on the causes and consequences of racial violence, persistent disparities and social inequalities; to strive for an understanding and appreciation of diversity and inclusivity in our campus culture, climate and curriculum. The recent racist incidents remind us of our own institution’s history reflected in the Lord Dalhousie Report and that complacency and silence perpetuates historical disparities. We must stand united against these wrongs.   

To our community of Black faculty, staff, students and families, far and near, please know that we share in your anguish and that you have our sincerest support and commitment against anti-Black racism and violence. Dalhousie remains committed to safeguarding our students and employees against all forms of discrimination.

To our wider Nova Scotia community, we strive to be a university that is not just located in a community but is part of a community. This means sharing in the joys as well as in the sadness and tragedies. We are consistently expanding our efforts in areas of diversity, equity, inclusiveness and community engagement, particularly those of African and Indigenous descent. Our work continues on an African Nova Scotian strategy that engages African Nova Scotians as a distinct people. As part of our academic service to the community we will be hosting a virtual public forum on the current anti-Black violence— you can expect more details in the coming days.

Please know that, even under these pandemic circumstances, there are services and supports available for our community — listed below. Please reach out if you need support.

To do nothing against social injustice is not an option. We hope that together we can make our community a safer and healthier place to live, work and study without fear of anti-Black racism, being a racialized person, or because of your gender, ethnicity, sexuality, disability, religion or nationality.

We will continue to add our voices to this important conversation and encourage others in our community to do the same. We will not be silent.

Sincerely,

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

Theresa Rajack-Talley
Vice-Provost, Equity & Inclusion

Tuition, fees and expanded student support for 2020-21

May 27, 2020

Last week, I shared news of how we are approaching instruction for the fall term. Yesterday, Dalhousie’s Board of Governors met to consider tuition and fees for the upcoming academic year. Tuition and fees are critical to supporting Dalhousie’s most important priorities for this upcoming year:

  • The health and safety of our students and community
  • Our unwavering commitment to academic excellence
  • The reality of financial pressures on our students
  • The overall financial stability of the institution

Here is a summary of what you can expect this fall:

Tuition is increasing by 3%. Annual tuition increases are necessary to maintain the high quality of our academic programming — this was true before the COVID-19 pandemic and is even more apparent today as we work to ensure your academic experience this fall is delivered to the highest standards. The Board’s motion approved a tuition increase of up to 3%, and given the investments needed in student support and online instruction — as well as to help manage the significant financial impacts of this current pandemic — Dalhousie will be implementing the full 3% increase for this upcoming year.

We're providing more financial aid than ever before, recognizing the impact of the current pandemic on the financial means of many of our students. We’re doubling financial aid bursary funding, adding an additional $3 million for domestic and international undergraduate students who need financial support. This financial assistance is above and beyond the scholarships, bursaries and other student assistance Dalhousie offers from the operating budget totalling more than $36 million per year.   

We're waiving or modifying many student fees. For many students, these savings will offset the tuition increase for the fall.

  • Athletics and recreation fees for all students will be waived for the fall term ($110 in Halifax, $75.29 in Truro), as will fees related to the Dalplex Fitness Centre ($90).
  • Student Services and Facilities Renewal Fees will be frozen at 2019-20 rates for the upcoming year. Our student services remain available and long-term investments into our facilities remain ever present.
  • Faculty-based fees are being reviewed and will be adjusted where possible.
  • A decision regarding UPass fees will be made at a later date once more details are available about both on-campus activity and Halifax Transit operations for the fall.

We’re putting more resources into supporting your academic experience. Our costs do not decrease when instruction moves online; in many cases there are new or different costs as we work to ensure courses are delivered with the world-class academic quality you expect from Dalhousie. That’s why we’re spending $1 million on technology development, additional online instruction training and increased online supports for students.

International tuition will increase as planned for students who began their studies in September 2019 or later. As previously approved last year, international tuition for students who started studies at Dal in September 2019 or later is increasing by an additional $1,473 annually through 2022-23 — an adjustment to bring our fees more in line with our Canadian comparators. Dalhousie’s international tuition is still among the lowest of our peer research universities across Canada. International students will receive the same support through the reduction in student fees and increased financial aid

We’re doing our part to reduce costs. Steps are being taken across the university to reduce costs and limit non-essential spending to ensure our overall financial stability during this pandemic. This includes limiting new hiring (except those roles deemed essential to our mission) and other human resources related costs, acting with significant spending prudence, and deferring maintenance and facilities work where possible.

The full operating budget for 2020-21 is still actively in review and will be considered by the Board in June. For more information, visit dal.ca/budget. Recommendations for tuition and fees for 2020-21 were developed and consulted through our usual Budget Advisory Committee process, however, we deferred moving final recommendations forward for approval to our Board of Governors earlier this spring to allow us to fully consider the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dalhousie is committed to your success, and we are all here to do whatever we can to keep you safe and help you complete your studies during a very difficult time. Over the past two months, the university has provided emergency financial aid to nearly 1,000 students. Additionally, with the support of generous donors through our projectDal campaign, we will continue to assist those in need. If you are having challenges, please reach out — there are resources available to you. Learn more at dal.ca/financialresources.

Sincerely,

Deep

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor
Dalhousie University

Provost and Vice-President Academic


May 26, 2020

I write to advise that Dr. Teri Balser will no longer be serving as Dalhousie’s Provost and Vice-President Academic effective May 27, 2020. I am grateful for the service she has provided to Dalhousie as Provost and for the months she served as Interim President. 

I look forward to continuing to work with Dr. Balser as she takes up her role as Full Professor in the Department of Plant, Food, and Environmental Sciences in the Faculty of Agriculture, with a cross appointment in the College of Sustainability, following a short administrative leave through December 31, 2020. I am confident she will continue to contribute to the university in meaningful ways.

In the immediate future Dr. Frank Harvey, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, has agreed to serve as Acting Provost and Vice-President Academic. Dr. Roberta Barker will serve as Acting Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. I am grateful for their leadership and their willingness to serve Dalhousie during the months ahead.

Sincerely,

Deep

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor
Dalhousie University

Support and condolences following Canadian Armed Forces crash


April 30, 2020


During an already challenging time, with both the current pandemic and last month’s shootings weighing heavily on all Nova Scotians — indeed, all Canadians — another tragedy has befallen our close-knit communities: the crash of a Canadian military helicopter off the coast of Greece last week.

This, too, hits home for our university community, as one of the six crew members on-board was Captain Maxime Miron-Morin. An air combat systems officer originally from Trois-Rivières, Québec, Captain Miron-Morin recently graduated from Dalhousie, completing the Masters of Science in Oceanography last year. The Canadian Armed Forces has announced that he and the other four remaining missing crew members are presumed deceased.

During his studies at Dalhousie, Maxime was a leader, a hardworking student who was able to solve equations in the classroom and engineering problems in the field with equal speed and skill. He worked full-time at Shearwater while completing his studies — a testament to his work ethic — and his dream was always to serve in Canada’s military.

We offer our condolences to Maxime’s family, his loved ones and friends, many of whom are part of our Dal community, as well as all those affected by this terrible tragedy. I encourage anyone in need of support to please reach out. Student Health and Wellness services are available and students can make an appointment for same-day services online or by calling 902-494-2171. There also are a variety of supports online. Resources for faculty and staff can be found at Dal’s Remote Working site.

Sincerely,

Deep 

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor
Dalhousie University

Dalhousie University Community Report 2019-2020


April 30, 2020

A university is only as strong as its community. Our successes depend on one another, and our challenges are shared challenges.

That is especially true this year. As part of the Nova Scotia community, we have grieved unfathomable, heartbreaking loss resulting from senseless violence. And through our collective response to COVID-19 we have demonstrated our community’s strength, its resilience and its sense of common purpose.

I am pleased to share with you this year’s edition of the Dalhousie University Community Report. It showcases the best of what is possible when we work together, across sectors, to achieve shared goals. The stories you will find within speak to the same sense of partnership and collaboration that are guiding us through these difficult times.

You will read about the diverse perspectives and achievements of our students, faculty and staff. You will discover how we are building a community of belonging, sharing research, leading with compassion, helping our students excel and supporting our community, on campus and beyond.

Let us acknowledge these accomplishments, even within difficult times, so that we can move forward together to build a stronger future for our region and beyond.

A connected community — now more than ever.

Sincerely,

Deep 

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor
Dalhousie University

COVID-19 update #10: An update on the road ahead


April 27, 2020

Today, we are providing updates on:

  • Fall term planning
  • Research update
  • Update on university operations
  • Spring celebrations for our graduates
  • Tightened financial management practices

We have reached the end of a winter term truly unlike any in Dalhousie’s history. Over the past several weeks, we have all worked through a great upheaval and while it has not always been perfect, we have come through it as best as possible by focusing first and foremost on our students, and remembering to lean on our empathy and understanding towards one another.

We owe gratitude to our students for their patience and commitment, our faculty for their ingenuity and steadfast dedication, our researchers for their flexibility and focus, our frontline healthcare members who work hard to keep our broader community safe and our staff for their resilience — including those essential workers who remain on-campus to support vital operations. On behalf of all of Dalhousie: thank you.

We know you have many questions about what comes next. This message is intended to share what we know at this point. We will continue to keep you updated as this situation evolves. Please know that leaders and teams across our institution are hard at work planning for various scenarios in response to the impacts the last several weeks have had on our community.

Fall term: Planning for uncertainty

We know everyone has many questions about the fall, in particular, about what courses and campus operations will look like. I know this uncertainty — which extends beyond Dal to our society at large — is an extra burden at an already challenging time.

We can assure you that degrees, courses and instruction will continue, whether online, in person, or some combination of both. Students will continue to receive high-quality instruction from our outstanding faculty and teaching staff, and we will continue to explore and invest in our online learning platforms to enhance the learning experience. We will heed the lessons learned from this winter term and apply them in support of our students and their academic experience whether our students are on-campus, learning remotely or involved in a blended approach.

Equally, we understand the financial impacts these last several weeks have had on students, their families and our community as a whole. We are thankful with the news of enhanced student financial assistance programs by the Government of Canada and Dalhousie is also pleased to have helped hundreds of students through this period with emergency bursary support. We continue to fundraise for student financial assistance through our ProjectDAL student initiatives. With planning underway for the fall, we will ensure we keep financial challenges top of mind.

Our fall term will be largely dictated by public health protocols and the impact they have on instruction, campus operations and student mobility. Continued social efforts to “flatten the curve” over these next several weeks will help us to be able to return to on-campus operations, but there may still be significant restrictions required. There are many potential scenarios that are possible depending on how the public health situation evolves.

Ultimately, it is still early in this pandemic to know much about the fall, but we will work together to ensure that no matter what September looks like, our students are supported with high quality instruction and our mission-critical work continues. Provost Teri Balser is leading a set of cross-university working groups focused on core aspects of our academic mission, helping develop university-wide approaches to support our students, our faculty/instructors, and with our academic units to assist in instruction planning for the fal.

As we know more about the fall term, we will keep you updated. We hope to be in a position to share more on our plans with you in June.

Return to research

A Research-led team is determining how our research will resume in a phased approach once it is feasible and safe to do so. We know this is particularly relevant to our researchers, research staff, post docs, graduate and undergraduate students, many of whom have not been able to continue their work due to COVID-19 restrictions. Researchers can expect to hear more about these plans and a phased approach to resuming research operations shortly from the Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation.

University operations: Extending restrictions until at least July 2

In alignment with broader public health protocols in our province, we are extending some of the current restrictions in place around university operations and activities until at least July 2. Previously, some of these restrictions were set to expire on June 1 or earlier. These include: on-campus facilities and services that are currently closed or operating remotely (including the Libraries, Dalplex and fitness facilities, etc.) and university in-person events.

A cross-functional working group has been established to develop a comprehensive re-opening plan for all areas of the university once it is determined safe to do so. We will continue to evaluate the situation, update should these restrictions change, and communicate plans for re-opening when we have more details to share.

Spring graduation: Celebrating our newest alumni

As you are all aware, we are not able to conduct Spring Convocation ceremonies as usual this year. We have committed to ensuring all students who wish to cross the stage will be able to do so at a future ceremony. At the same time, we want to ensure the Class of 2020 has its well-deserved recognition this spring.

We’ve brought together a team, led by the Registrar’s Office, to develop a plan that will celebrate our graduates. These celebrations will provide members of the Class of 2020 an opportunity to take pride in what they’ve achieved and show our newest alumni just how much they mean to us, even though we cannot gather to do so in-person. Stay tuned for more details in the near future.

Financial management: Doing our due diligence

A significant uncertainty we have to prepare for is not knowing how this pandemic will affect our enrolment. This is particularly relevant to budget planning, as revenue from tuition fees funds over 40% of the university operating budget, and understandably, given the broad impacts of this pandemic, the stability of our other operating revenues is also uncertain at this point. We are hopeful that with instruction continuing (see “fall term” information below), and with strong recruitment numbers at this point in the year, our enrolment will remain relatively stable. That said, we don’t yet know the full implications of how this pandemic will affect student mobility, access and interest for the upcoming academic year.

This challenge is not unique to Dalhousie – it is shared across the higher education sector in Canada and, indeed, much of the world — but it requires caution in our budget planning. We have taken the following measures:

Budget reviews: Faculties and support unit leaders have been asked to review budgets to ensure only the most efficient and required new spending is undertaken and to identify measures to reduce costs where possible, in preparation for a potential budget scenario in which revenues are lower than forecast. Operating expenditures will be significantly reduced in a number of areas including travel, utilities, on-campus supplies and materials, externally contracted services, non-essential recruitment and renewal of casual and temporary employment. Significant reductions in these costs will help us to prevent or delay future layoffs.

Recruitment and Travel: New hiring is temporarily paused excepting those deemed critical in moving immediate university priorities forward. Searches for limited-term academic appointments (instructor stream or professoriate) needed to fulfill teaching requirements may continue. Approved career-stream faculty searches must be reviewed with the Provost and VPA before posting. For further information on hiring protocols, review the COVID-19 Guide to Employment (NetID/password required). In addition to these measures, we will be limiting university travel by faculty and staff until, at a minimum, December 31, 2020, as a cost-reduction measure. Exceptions will only be permitted with approval of your respective Vice-President.

Capital projects and renovations: Facilities work that can be safely moved to a later date is being deferred.

Looking ahead

Moving forward as a community in a time such as this is a shared challenge and responsibility. We can take confidence, though, in all we’ve achieved and done thus far. We did so by bringing out the best in ourselves and our Dal community: our resilience, our creativity, our commitment and empathy towards our students and towards one another. We worked together as one team, one community — One Dal.

As we move forward together, let us continue to bring out the best in ourselves, in each other, and the collaborative spirit of this great university.

A final note, to our faculty and staff: a reminder of the planned Community Check-In virtual event scheduled for this Thursday. Please refer to the email invite sent to you on Friday for full details.

Sincerely,

Deep  

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor
Dalhousie University

Condolences and support following this weekend’s tragic events


April 20, 2020

It is hard to find words to express the shock and sadness we are all feeling following this weekend’s events with this senseless act of violence in our province. Many lives have been cut short — an unfathomable, heartbreaking loss during an already difficult time. In our close-knit Truro-Bible Hill community, near where many of these events appear to have happened, I know these feelings are especially pronounced.  

On behalf of Dalhousie University, I express our condolences to all who have lost someone close to them and we all grieve as part of the larger Nova Scotian community. We share our thanks to the RCMP and first-responders for their courageous efforts to keep us safe, and offer support for all who are reeling in the wake of these distressing events. Flags have been lowered on our campuses to honour those whose lives have been lost.

If you need support during this challenging time, please reach out.

Provincial mental health crisis line

1-888-429-8167

Student supports

Students who require immediate support should contact Student Health and Wellness by phone to book an appointment: 902-494-2171 (Halifax); 902-893-6369 (Truro). Additional e-mental health options for students are available, including Good2Talk – free and confidential counselling for post-secondary students (dal.ca/good2talk); Ask a Nurse – confidential answers to your health questions within 72 hrs; and TAO – an online mental health library.

Faculty/staff supports

Faculty and staff resources are available through our Employee Family Assistance Program, which can be accessed at workhealthlife.com or at login.lifeworks.com. In addition, Morneau Shepell has opened its 24/7 bilingual crisis support line to help anyone in need of emotional support. The toll-free number is 1-844-751-2133. Employees are also reminded that our Blue Cross medical coverage for mental health benefits was increased to $1500 effective April 1, 2020. Please also visit our remote working site for employees for additional mental health resources.

Rather than recording my usual podcast, I spent some time this morning reflecting on this terrible tragedy, which can be listened to here. In the days and weeks ahead, let us remember and rely upon the bonds that unite us as Nova Scotians as we hold each other up through these difficult times.   

Sincerely,

Deep 

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor
Dalhousie University

Thoughts and reflections for the week: Challenging our assumptions

April 14, 2020

It has now been just over a month since in-person classes at Dalhousie were suspended. So much has happened since then, both in our university and in our broader community, that one could be forgiven for feeling as if we’ve been working this way for much longer. Yet here we are, one month later, with the completion of the winter term in our sights. I hope our students and faculty are all doing well during this exam period.

As we begin to plan for a variety of potential scenarios for the fall, we do so with the understanding that, short- and long-term, COVID-19 represents a major upheaval to postsecondary education, both in Canada and worldwide. Its impact on student mobility is unprecedented, and we are likely to see major reconfigurations ahead for the university sector, ones that some institutions will navigate more successfully than others. The past month has brought out some of the best in our Dal community — how do we build on that energy to emerge from this situation even stronger? What assumptions should we challenge?

I discuss these themes, with a few insights from my past growing up in India, in this week’s episode of my podcast, which you can listen to here. Moving forward, you can find new episodes of my podcast each week on the One Dal website and my own website, in Today@Dal, my Twitter and Facebook accounts and in the Dal News Weekly. Soon, you’ll also be able to subscribe via your favourite podcast app. (Stay tuned.)

A couple of additional notes:

  • As I do on my podcast, I want to take a moment and provide special thanks to our frontline essential workers who remain on campus on a regular basis: custodians and security patrol staff, staff and clinicians at Student Health and Wellness and the emergency dental clinic, and on campus residence staff. We are committed to recognizing the work you do under these circumstances with more information to follow shortly from your manager in terms of Dal’s appreciation for your efforts. Thank you again for all you do — your care for others in our community is widely noticed and appreciated by all of us.

Take care and stay well,

Deep

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor
Dalhousie University

End-of-term well wishes and my latest podcast


April 6, 2020


In our academic calendar, today marks the final day of classes for the winter term. Although we are not able to approach the end of classes with the usual fanfare, given it is an end-of-semester quite unlike any other, it is still worth taking the time to celebrate the incredible work undertaken this term.

In just a few short weeks, we have moved 2,500 courses for this winter term and the upcoming spring and summer term into a distance education format. The scale is truly enormous, and our faculty and staff have done an amazing job. While things may not be perfect — quite understandable, under the circumstances — I’ve been very impressed by our collective ability to adapt to this new way of learning. To our students, as you approach the finish line of this semester, or for some of you the finish line of your degrees, know that our entire Dal community is united in cheering you on.

Last week, the Government of Nova Scotia announced Dalhousie’s involvement in two key COVID-19 response programs. We will provide expertise and extra capacity to the Small Business COVID-19 Impact Grant (supporting small businesses ordered to cease or substantially curtail operations) and the COVID-19 Worker Emergency Bridge (supporting Nova Scotians who’ve lost work and are unable to access Employment Insurance). These challenges require us all to work together, across sectors, and we are pleased to be collaborating with our government colleagues to support these important initiatives.

I’m also pleased to see that, even in trying times, we’ve had more than 250 donors who’ve stepped up and donated to the various fundraising campaigns underway through our projectDal fundraising site — initiatives to support students in need and researchers on the front-lines of the COVID-19 effort. Learn more about these at projectdal.ca.

I discuss these initiatives and more in the new episode of my podcast series, which you can listen to and download here.

A reminder to visit dal.ca/coronavirus for more information on Dal’s overall COVID-19 response, and visit dal.ca/onedal for stories and highlights of how our community is doing great things in support of one another during this exceptional time.

Sincerely,

Deep

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor
Dalhousie University

Sincerely,

Deep

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor
Dalhousie University

Dean, Architecture and Planning


April 1, 2020

I write to advise that Dr. Joseli Macedo has resigned from her role as Dean of the Faculty of Architecture and Planning, effective today, April 1, 2020.

Dr. Macedo joined Dalhousie in 2018 as a Professor in the Faculty of Architecture and Planning. Prior to her arrival at Dal, she was Professor and Head of the School of Design and the Built Environment at Curtin University in Australia. Dr. Macedo will continue in her role as Professor in the Faculty’s School of Planning and looks forward to dedicating more time to the classroom and on her research.

The current circumstances under which we are all operating prevent us from initiating a search for Dr. Macedo’s successor immediately. A further announcement about the appointment of an Interim Dean for the Faculty of Architecture and Planning will be forthcoming shortly. In the immediate future, Dr. John Newhook, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, has agreed to serve as Acting Dean and will provide strategic counsel and leadership to the Faculty in the short term.

Please join me in thanking Dr. Macedo for her service as Dean. I look forward to working with her and her continued contributions to Dalhousie as a member of the faculty.

Sincerely,

Deep

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor
Dalhousie University

A caring and compassionate community


April 1, 2020

While crises like the current COVID-19 pandemic present many challenges, they also sometimes bring out the best in people. This is absolutely true of our Dalhousie community, both on-campus and beyond.   

We have all been doing what we can to help our students in this unprecedented scenario — as an institution, and as community. The impacts of COVID-19 are vast, and present immediate hardships for many, including students. Some are experiencing extreme financial constraints because of job losses. Others cannot return home because of travel costs or restrictions. Food scarcity and housing concerns are increasingly common. And some lack the access to technology necessary to continue their studies remotely.

In recent days, many of our alumni, friends and partners have reached out to ask how they can help our students during this trying time. Their compassion and generosity are a testament to the strength of our community and of their commitment to our students. In response, we have launched new crowdfunding campaigns on ProjectDAL today.

There are three ways people can help. Supporting the Student Emergency Relief Fund will help students facing urgent financial hardships. The money raised will go towards travel, housing or food costs for students. The Student Technology Fund will ensure all students have access to the technology they need to continue their studies remotely. It will help mitigate the cost of equipment, such as laptops, computer rentals or mobile internet devices for those without internet access. And lastly, the Community Connection Project will enable the Dal community to offer support by means of jobs, mentorship or housing solutions.

I will be making a personal gift to this campaign and I encourage you to help if you’re able, whether it’s through a one-time gift, monthly payroll deduction, or by spreading the word online.

Thank you,

Deep

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor
Dalhousie University

A community of common purpose: One Dal


March 30, 2020

As we enter our second week of remote teaching at Dalhousie, I continue to marvel at how our community has responded to COVID-19, and the measures we have had to take in such a short period of time. The word “extraordinary” doesn’t even begin to describe it — nor does a simple “thank you” begin to fully express the appreciation I have for your efforts. Know that your work is seen, and we are all thankful for it.

I wanted to share some words of thanks and appreciation — more than can fit in an email — and so I’ve recorded a short podcast, one I plan to continue with on a regular basis in the weeks to come. You can listen to the first episode here.

Today was originally supposed to be my presidential installation, and one of the ideas I had planned to share with all of you was about the power of community and common purpose — an insight that seems almost self-evident based on what’s transpired these past few weeks. For all our diversity and complexity as a university, and in the face of an urgent, all-encompassing challenge, we’ve come together to accomplish truly exceptional but also difficult feats: moving our teaching and learning online, students moving out of residence, the postponement of convocation and year-end rituals, all the while supporting those who remain with us. As we find new ways to continue our daily work remotely, finding our footing in this new reality, we do so with a sense of common purpose and community that becomes even more important.

Though our work is now conducted at desks and on devices spread across Canada and around the world, the bonds that unite us — our commitment to learning, to knowledge and discovery, to bettering our communities — remain strong. At the same time, members of our Dal community are also stepping up to do their part in the broader COVID-19 effort, from research for vaccine development to those front-line staff continuing to support those in need. Our collective efforts in common purpose unite us as One Dal, ensuring our mission continues — more vital than ever.

We want to tell more of these stories — your stories — of how you’re working through, responding to and helping one another in this unprecedented time. We’re launching a new webpage today to do just that: dal.ca/onedal. I’ll be joining in this effort with my podcast, and encourage everyone who has a story, photo, video or even a quote or anecdote worth sharing to send it along to us so we can share it with everyone. Let’s continue to celebrate our achievements, our resiliency and our Dalhousie community spirit, persistent as ever in the face of this adversity.

Please continue to access resources available to you through dal.ca/coronavirus. We’ve also made updates to the dal.ca homepage to make these resources easier to locate.

Thank you and continue to take care of one another — as One Dal, we are stronger.

Deep

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor
Dalhousie University

COVID-19 update #8: Change to immigration measures to help international students and faculty announced by Government of Canada


March 21, 2020

We understand this is a trying time and we are writing today to share a bit of positive news that will benefit international students and faculty at Dalhousie and other post-secondary institutions in Canada.

Late yesterday, the Government of Canada announced that it will be making a number of important exemptions to travel restrictions. These exemptions have special importance for international students and faculty.  

The Government of Canada's immigration measures now include exemptions for the below criteria to allow entry back into Canada:

  • international students who held a valid study permit or had been approved
  • for study permit, when the travel restrictions took effect on March 18
  • permanent resident applicants who had been approved for permanent residence before the travel restrictions were announced on March 16, but who had not yet travelled to Canada

The government is advising that those who are affected by these exemptions should not try to travel to Canada immediately. A further government announcement will be made early next week when the exemptions are in place.  

Please note that health screening protocols will be followed before travel and all individuals entering into the country from abroad will be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

Read the government’s full announcement here.  

We hope that this announcement helps to ease the uncertainty for those international students or faculty in the middle of their work, course of study or who have been approved to study but who were abroad when the travel restrictions went into effect.

As a reminder, Dalhousie’s International Centre is open today Saturday, March 21 until 6 p.m. and re-opens Monday at 8:30 a.m.

These are extraordinary times and I’m so thankful to the Dalhousie community and beyond for continuing to be resourceful, compassionate and supportive.  

Take care, be safe and stay healthy.

Sincerely, 

Deep

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor
Dalhousie University

A Message from President Deep Saini


March 19, 2020

Dear Dalhousie community,

Late yesterday we learned of a presumptive positive COVID-19 case connected with the Dalhousie community. If you have NOT been contacted directly by Public Health, you are not considered to have been exposed. Respecting both privacy and public health matters, that is as much information as we can share broadly. We wish to share support and thank this individual for taking the proper, proactive steps to minimize transmission.

Nova Scotia Public Health monitors anyone who is confirmed with COVID-19 and provides advice on what people can do to minimize transmission and take care of themselves. We have no indication of any case within our residence locations. The health and safety of our community is top priority. Public Health has already been in contact with individuals that may be affected through contact tracing and provided instructions to self-isolate. Again, if you have not been contacted directly by Public Health, you are not considered to have been exposed. As a matter of process, Public Health takes the following actions:

  • Consults with the individual to understand contact points and directs the individual to self-isolate for 14 days.
  • Contacts those who were in close proximity with the individual to inform them of the potential connection and that they should also self-isolate for 14 days.
  • Recommends that those contacted continue to monitor their health for symptoms and take appropriate action if concerns arise by calling 811 for assessment. 

I recognize the anxiety and uncertainty that this news creates for members of our community. This reinforces the importance of looking after ourselves and “flattening the curve”: reducing contact with other people (“social distancing”), practising good hygiene and other measures that help slow the spread of the virus. Most of all, be supportive and understanding of one another as we work through this difficult time for our university and broader community.

I acknowledge that we do not have all the answers. I appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through this unprecedented situation. We will be reassessing the situation ongoing while continuing to provide communication updates as they become available. Please monitor your health, and that of others within your family, and take appropriate action if required. Visit invalid link: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/novascotia.ca/coronavirus/ should you have concerns.

Please continue to check your university email regularly in the days and weeks ahead. We will continue to share updates through our dal.ca/coronavirus webpage and Dalhousie social media channels.

Take precautions. Be compassionate. And together we will get through this.

Sincerely,

Deep

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor
Dalhousie University

A Note of Gratitude and Appreciation


March 15, 2020

Hello everyone,  

This has been an extraordinary weekend. As I reflect on the decisions we’ve had to make together as a shared community, the gravity, impact and consequence of this moment hit home.

Today, the first presumptive cases of COVID-19 were reported in Nova Scotia. On Friday, Dalhousie and King’s made the decision to suspend in-person courses, labs and exams for the remainder of the term and move all instruction to distance to allow students to complete the semester — a decision many of our peer universities across our region and across Canada are also making. While students who cannot return home are able to stay on campus, most are making plans to depart as soon as they can. We’ve cancelled or postponed all non-essential events and suspended all non-essential university travel.

While Dalhousie remains open, there will certainly be people for whom today’s news about the closure of schools and daycares in Nova Scotia may affect their ability to report to work. Please consult with your director, department chair or supervisor if you have questions or concerns.

As communicated yesterday, we are also cancelling Spring Convocation. With Public Health asking organizations to limit social gatherings, cancelling a mass celebration like Convocation may seem an easy decision. Yet it weighs heavily on all of us — faculty, administrators and, of course, students — who believe our academic mission and the culmination of our students’ experience here is worth celebrating. Rest assured that not only will we make sure all students are still awarded their degrees/credentials, but we will work to develop a plan so that students who wish to cross the Convocation stage in the future can do so, potentially in the fall. Every graduate should have the “hurrah” they’ve rightly earned.

Moving courses to distance and cancelling large university events like Convocation are the kinds of sacrifices, compromises and weighty choices we all have to make if we hope to “flatten the curve” and limit the spread of COVID-19. Doing so will help protect those for whom COVID-19 represents a life-threatening predicament, lessen the burden on our health-care system, and hopefully prevent the disease from becoming truly overwhelming for our society at large.

Like my colleagues on our senior leadership team, I’ve been reading your emails, tweets and messages as best as I can. It’s quite reasonable to feel anxious about this fast-moving moment of great uncertainty. But mostly I’ve been incredibly impressed by the sense of community and support I’ve seen as we pull together under unprecedented circumstances. This next week, as we begin the process of figuring out how to work together quite differently than ever before, I encourage everyone to take a moment and thank others for what they contribute to Dalhousie — especially in a moment like this.

Perhaps I can start with just a few…

  • Thank you to the students who are making their way home to complete their term remotely — especially those who may be graduating this year. I hope your Dalhousie experience has exceeded your expectations — thank you for your contributions to our community. For those students who are unable to leave, and are staying here with us in Halifax, Truro or elsewhere: please reach out and let us know how we can help with anything you need.
  • Thank you to faculty who are about to enter uncharted waters in their own teaching journey. For many of you, this may be your first time engaging with your students via distance teaching. I know you will take on this challenge with the same unwavering commitment to our students that you bring to the classroom each and every day. 
  • Thank you to front-line service staff who are stepping up to support our community in these complex times. You’re the ones who get the most difficult questions — the ones that may not always have easy answers — and who put in the hard work to solve problems, one person at a time. Your work is invaluable. An extra note of thanks to our janitorial services staff across the university for going above-and-beyond and taking extra measures to keep our spaces clean.  
  • Thank you to our deans and academic and administrative leaders across the university, who experience the complexity of a situation such as this up close and have to figure out how these circumstances impact our vast and diverse academic community.

I could go on and on and on, but I will leave it there and hope others carry on this wave of thanks in the days ahead. There will be challenges to come, without a doubt, but together we will move forward in support of our students, our research and our academic mission.

A reminder to all to continue checking your dal.ca email for updates in the days to come. For more detailed information, including frequently asked questions, visit dal.ca/coronavirus. If you have questions you can’t find the answers to, email COVID19@dal.ca and we will attempt to address your questions as best we can. And remember to do your part and follow public health advice.

Thank you, and stay well,

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor
Dalhousie University

COVID update #4: In-person classes suspended next week, university remains open, update on residences and travel


March 13, 2020

In the interest of ensuring alignment between our affiliated institutions, we are sending this update jointly to our respective Dalhousie and King’s communities in Halifax, Truro and elsewhere. Please review this entire message carefully as there are several new developments.

Over the past several weeks, we have been preparing diligently for the impacts of COVID-19. We know our community is large and complex, with significant mobility of our people. Given the current public health situation, and in consultation with both Nova Scotia Public Health and government officials as well as our other postsecondary partners, it is time for our institutions to take concrete measures to encourage social distancing and limit the spread of the virus. The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff is highest priority, and it is vital we do our part to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. These measures reflect our unique circumstances for Dalhousie and King’s. We recognize the situation for other institutions may be different and those institutions may need to respond differently.

We have taken many measures to date and are announcing additional measures today in response to the latest information from Public Health. We ask your patience as we work through additional details and decisions and will share more next week.

In-person classes suspended next week

In-person classes and labs for Dalhousie and King’s students will be suspended next week (March 16-20) as a preventative measure to increase social distancing and allow instructors time to shift to alternative means of teaching.

We are working to ensure that, despite these disruptions, students will be able to complete their academic year. Our intention is to begin transitioning classes into a temporary remote teaching environment (such as online, etc.) for the remainder of the term. We expect classes will be suspended at least a week before they recommence. Instructors will receive further instructions through their Deans or Program Directors in the coming days. In-person exams will not take place on campus. More details to come next week. We will be consulting with CONSUP (Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents) and NS Public Health on next steps.

Clinical placements, research activities and co-op work placements are continuing.

Residences — those who can move out are encouraged do so

Residences remain open. We request those students who are able to move out to do so by Sunday, March 22. Please be assured that anyone who cannot return home for reasons such as international travel restrictions, serious personal reasons, or university obligations will continue to be provided accommodation. Those who move out by March 22 will receive a prorated refund (room and meal plan) deposited to their student account. Please note, for students’ continued safety we reserve the right to move students to another residence. Students in residence can expect to receive additional information by email shortly.

University remains open

University offices and buildings remain open. Our decision to suspend classes represents a measure to reduce large gatherings of people in line with public health advice. Research operations will continue.

Further information on HR procedures for employees are being provided to leaders across the university shortly. Please consult with your director, department chair or supervisor for more information.

Cancellation of events and activities

In line with Public Health advice, non-essential university-sanctioned events must be cancelled or postponed at this time. The Dalhousie Presidential Installation (March 30) is also cancelled and may be rescheduled to a later date. The situation with campus events will be reassessed as we go forward.

All non-essential university travel suspended, self-isolation for travellers

All non-essential student, faculty and staff travel for university purposes is now suspended. Any exceptions must be approved by the Provost, or in the case of King's, the Vice-President.

In line with Public Health advice, all those who have travelled internationally or from any provinces with confirmed cases of COVID-19 should self-isolate upon their return for 14 days. For employees, this time will not be taken from an employee’s vacation or sick leave bank; employees are expected to work from home, where possible.

Final thoughts

A reminder that the Public Health Agency of Canada and invalid link: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/Nova Scotia Public Health remain the best source for up-to-date public information on this rapidly changing situation. More information related to Dalhousie can be found at dal.ca/coronavirus and related to King's at ukings.ca/coronavirusIn the coming days we will continue to update our Frequently Asked Questions on those sites to address common concerns.

These are exceptional times, unprecedented in the modern history of our institutions. We know these measures represent a significant disruption to our operations. No aspect of our mission is unaffected. We are, truly, all in this together.

To our students… we are doing everything we can to limit the impact on your studies, and we are here to support you. We know this is a stressful time. Practise empathy with your peers and reach out if you need support of any kind.

To our faculty, staff and instructors… your commitment to our students and their academic experience is what makes Dalhousie and King’s such great institutions. We know that commitment remains strong. We’re here for what you need in making this difficult situation work for our students.

To everyone in our shared community… Ours is a strong community — and that strength is grounded in our compassion for one another. Now is the time to draw on that strength as we come together and prepare to come through this situation even stronger and more compassionate. Be kind to each other.

Sincerely,  

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor
Dalhousie University

William Lahey
President and Vice-Chancellor
University of King’s College

Invitation to Dalhousie's 3 Minute Thesis Competition - Wednesday, March 11


March 9, 2020

The Dalhousie community is encouraged to attend the finals of our annual 3 Minute Thesis competition this Wednesday, March 11 from 6:15 to 8:00 p.m. in the McInnes Room in the Dalhousie Student Union Building.

Discover the groundbreaking scholarly work our graduate students are conducting, as they present their research in just 180 seconds.

The evening will be MC'd by CBC’s Brett Ruskin. The audience will select the winner of this year’s People’s Choice Award, and after the 10 finalists have presented, we will have the opportunity to discuss their presentations over a reception. It promises to be a wonderful evening.

If you are unable to attend the final, you may take in some of the preliminary heats tomorrow, Tuesday, March 10, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Student Union Building.

Best of luck to this year’s competitors, and I hope to see you on Wednesday.

Sincerely,

Dr. Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

African Heritage Month kicks off at Dalhousie


January 31, 2020

African Heritage Month begins on Saturday, and I encourage you to take part in upcoming events happening on campus and in our broader community.

In particular, I invite you to join me at Dalhousie’s African Heritage Month launch event and flag-raising on Monday, February 3 from 12-1:30 p.m. in the LeMarchant Place atrium.

This year, we celebrate milestone anniversaries of several Dalhousie initiatives that build important bridges between the university and historic African Nova Scotian communities. These include the Transition Year Program in our College of Continuing Education; the Indigenous Blacks & Mi’kmaq Initiative in the Schulich School of Law; and our Black Student Advising Centre — all marking three decades of vital service in expanding outreach, access and support to People of African Descent pursuing higher education.

In the International Decade for People of African Descent, we reaffirm our commitment to supporting all People of African Descent in our community. Informed by the recommendations of the Lord Dalhousie scholarly panel, we continue to move forward in addressing our dual responsibility to reconcile with the legacies of anti-Black racism and slavery while building a better present and future for individuals and communities of African descent. Learn more about the work on campus stemming from the Lord Dalhousie Panel on Dal News.

For an overview of Dal and community events happening during African Heritage Month, visit the Human Rights & Equity Services website.

I hope to see you on Monday.

Best regards,

Dr. Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

Nominate your star students for an IMPACT Award


January 29, 2020

On March 26, the Dalhousie community will celebrate some of our outstanding students at the ninth annual IMPACT Awards.

The IMPACT Awards recognize students and student societies from across the university for their exceptional extracurricular contributions, not only to Dalhousie, but to local, provincial, national, and global communities.

If you have worked with a student, or students, whose contributions deserve to be recognized, I encourage you to nominate them for an IMPACT Award by February 7.

Information about all the awards, along with nomination forms, can be found at dal.ca/impact.

Please help us celebrate our incredible students and share their inspiring stories.

Sincerely,

Dr. Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

Canada-wide moment of silence Wednesday for Iran disaster


January 13, 2020

Last week’s tragedy in Iran has impacted communities across Canada, especially our collective academic community. At Dalhousie, we mourn the loss of one of our students, Masoumeh Ghavi — as well as her sister, Mandieh — and one of our instructors/alumni, Dr. Sharieh Faghihi. We share our grief with Saint Mary’s University, who lost two students of their own last Wednesday morning, and with the family and friends of three other individuals with ties to Halifax who lost their lives. We are joined by more than 20 other Canadian universities who have reported that members of their communities — be they students, faculty, staff or alumni — were killed on board Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752.

To share our solidarity and support all those affected by this tragedy, and to recognize the unprecedented and far-reaching impact on our peers at institutions from coast to coast, universities across Canada will be holding a nationwide moment of silence on Wednesday, January 15. The moment of silence, organized by Universities Canada, is set to begin at 2 p.m. Atlantic Time and will last for approximately one minute.

We encourage Dalhousie faculty, staff, students and others in our community to take this moment on Wednesday to reflect, to recognize and to remember.

Sincerely,

Dr. Teri Balser
Provost and Vice-President Academic

Dr. Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

Update on tragedy in Iran


January 9, 2020

We continue to have an immense sense of grief over yesterday’s news. The deaths of those aboard Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 represent a huge loss: to Halifax, to Canada, to our broader academic community across the country and beyond, and, most of all, to the family, friends and colleagues of those who lost their lives.

We can now share that there were two known Dal individuals on the flight

Masoumeh “Masi” Ghavi was a master’s student in Internetworking in the Faculty of Engineering, who moved to Nova Scotia from Iran last summer. She also working locally with a Bedford-based I.T. company. She was travelling with her younger sister, Mandieh, who was coming to Halifax to begin studies of her own.

Sharieh Faghihi came to Dal in 2014 as a Qualifying Program student in the Faculty of Dentistry. Born in Tehran, she obtained her DDS from Tehran University followed by a masters in periodontology. With her husband and two children, Sharieh immigrated to Canada in 2011. After graduating from Dal in 2016, she returned to the Faculty to teach in the Division of Periodontology in 2017 and also worked in private practice in Halifax. She loved Nova Scotia and her colleagues at Dal and described dentistry as “my career of passion all my life.”

Two additional individuals on the flight were headed for Halifax: Saint Mary’s University students Maryam Malek and Fatemeh Mahmoodi. Other Canadian universities are recognizing members of their communities who were killed as well. We share in their grief. This is truly a Canadian tragedy.

On behalf of Dalhousie University, we express our condolences and reaffirm our support to all those impacted, especially the family, friends and colleagues of Masoumeh and Sharieh. We stand beside you in this moment of grief and loss.

The Iranian Cultural Society of Nova Scotia and Dalhousie Iranian Students Society, together with the DSU and the broader university and community, are planning a local vigil this Saturday.

  • Date: Saturday, January 11
  • Time: 2:30-4:30 p.m.
  • Location: Dalhousie University Club, 6259 Alumni Crescent

We extend an invitation to attend to all from Dalhousie, Saint Mary’s and our communities who wish to be part of sharing condolences and remembering Masoumeh, Sharieh, Mandieh, Maryam and Fatemeh and all others who lost their lives in Wednesday’s tragedy. In light of the broad community impact of this tragedy, please note there will most likely be other vigils and commemoration events taking place in Halifax and elsewhere for people to gather and grieve.

Finally, a reminder that resources for students are available through Dalhousie’s Student Health & Wellness Services, including Multifaith Services. Staff and faculty resources are available through Dalhousie’s Employee & Family Assistance Program. Morneau Shepell, which provides this program, has also opened up a Crisis Support Line for anyone in the community (not just employees) in need of emotional support in relation to these events. The Crisis Support Line is open 24/7 and can be reached at: 1-866-885-6540. Additional outreach is being made to our communities in Dentistry and Engineering regarding available supports.

With sincerest condolences,

Dr. Teri Balser                                                              
Provost and Vice-President Academic

Dr. Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

Beginning our work together


January 15, 2020

I am honoured and humbled to begin my service today as Dalhousie’s 12th president and vice-chancellor. Thank you to all who have offered such a warm, inspiring welcome to me and my wife, Rani. I look forward to meeting many more of you in the days, weeks and months to come.

My thanks, as well, to our leadership team for its guidance during my first introductions to the Dalhousie community, and for its impressive work over the past year of transition. Teri Balser deserves particular recognition for her service and leadership as interim president — her extensive engagement with our students, staff and faculty have been noted by many, and I have no doubt that her thoughtful and collaborative approach as provost will continue to serve our community well. I would also like to thank Peter MacKinnon for his willingness to take time away from his family and other commitments to serve as Dalhousie’s interim president before Teri.   

I’m truly excited about what lies ahead for Dalhousie University.  

Across my academic career, in Canada and abroad, I’ve long admired Dalhousie. In blending the comprehensiveness of a major research university with the intimacy and community of a smaller institution, Dalhousie’s intellectual environment is rich and inspiring. It attracts a pan-Canadian student body, and a growing number of international students, through a student experience immersed in a deep tradition of research and scholarship. Dalhousie’s founding idea of a university “open to all” resonates particularly close to my heart and offers a beacon of a more inclusive vision for higher education’s future. And perhaps most impressive of all is how Dalhousie plays an anchor role in the economic and social development of Atlantic Canada while increasingly, and rightfully, claiming its place on the world stage.  

Working together across this great university, I am confident we will find ways to not only build on the impressive gains of Dalhousie’s recent past, but also raise our sights boldly higher. Dalhousie has all the ingredients to truly become a global institution, with all that entails, and to grow, strengthen, and transform our region in the process. For a university with two centuries of achievement behind it, there is nothing old or stodgy about where Dalhousie’s mission sits at the dawn of this new decade: Dal is more connected, more vibrant, and more impactful than ever before. It has evolved to include new faculties, new departments, and new campuses. Yet, for all that growth, Dalhousie remains a community united by a shared pride in what we achieve and contribute together. I dare say that the next chapter in the Dalhousie story — the one it is my privilege to join you in writing — might just be its most compelling one yet.  

Best regards,  

Dr. Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor