Memos

Latest memo from the president's office:


Invitation to Summer Convocation ceremonies for returning 2020 and 2021 graduates  

June 15, 2022

After the pandemic forced us to move Convocation celebrations online for our 2020 and 2021 graduates, we are excited to welcome these alumni back to campus for one of six special Convocation ceremonies that will take place in early July.

Ceremonies in Halifax will be held in the Dalhousie Arts Centre’s Rebecca Cohn Auditorium on Tuesday, July 5 and Wednesday July 6, while the ceremony at our Agricultural Campus in Truro will take place on Friday, July 8.

We encourage you to attend Convocation whenever possible. It will mean a great deal to these returning graduates to see you there and finally be able to share in this important, long-awaited moment. Faculty or staff who wish to attend Convocation as part of the platform party should be sure to reserve a hood and gown through the Online Academic Dress Reservation Portal no later than June 27 at 11:59 p.m. The Gowns Room will be located in Room 1198 of the Marion McCain Building for Halifax ceremonies, and the Langille Athletic Centre for Truro ceremonies. If you are unable to attend, the ceremonies will be available for public viewing via webcast.

For more information on Convocation ceremonies, visit the Convocation website.

July 5 at 9:00 am: Faculties of Science and Graduate Studies

July 5 at 12:30 pm: Faculties of Computer Science and Graduate Studies

July 5 at 4:00 pm: Faculties of Arts & Social Sciences, Management, Schulich School of Law and Graduate Studies

July 6 at 9:00 am: Faculties of Architecture & Planning, Dentistry, Health, Medicine and Graduate Studies

July 6 at 12:30 pm: Faculties of Engineering and Graduate Studies

July 8 at 2:00 pm: Faculties of Agriculture and Graduate Studies

If you have any questions concerning Convocation, please contact Crystal Bona in the Registrar’s Office at crystal.bona@dal.ca.

I hope you will join us in recognizing and celebrating Dalhousie’s graduates, their perseverance, and their achievement.

Sincerely,  

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor   

2022 Archives  

Invitation to Third Century Promise: Annual Progress Report and Strawberry Jam


June 7, 2022

Please join me and members of Dalhousie’s senior leadership team on Thursday, June 23 for the Annual Progress Report on Dalhousie’s 2021-2026 strategic plan, Third Century Promise. We are thrilled to be hosting this year’s Progress Report in tandem with the university’s annual Strawberry Jam, which will take place immediately following.

This combined, in-person event will serve as our annual June update, where we report on progress made over the past year. It will also be a chance to celebrate our successes from the past year, as we have done at previous Strawberry Jam events.

The Annual Progress Report will take place in the Ondaatje Theatre of the Marion McCain Arts & Social Sciences Building (6135 University Avenue) on Thursday, June 23 at 10:30 a.m. Questions can be shared via email (president.messages@dal.ca) or onsite during the event, and we will aim to address as many as we can. The Annual Progress Report will also be livestreamed for those who are not able to attend in person or who would prefer to participate from home.

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, we are pleased to bring back the annual Strawberry Jam this year. This event will take place in the Studley Quad in front of the Henry Hicks Building (with a rain location of the LeMarchant Place Atrium) immediately following the Annual Progress Report, at 12 p.m. As in previous years, there will be a strawberry-themed menu and live entertainment.

We look forward to seeing you on campus for both of these important annual events.

Sincerely,  

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor  

Changes to Legal Counsel Office and University Secretariat


April 28, 2022

I am writing with two updates regarding the University Secretariat and our Legal Counsel Office, including the roles of University Secretary and General Counsel.  

Retirement of Susan Brousseau 

Last year, Susan Brousseau, University Secretary and Director of the University Secretariat, informed me of her plans to retire this coming June.  

To say Susan’s retirement is well-earned would be an understatement, given her incredible contributions to Dalhousie over a career that spans more than 35 years. A two-time alum (BA’81, LLB’84), Susan first served as associate legal counsel, after which she spent 12 years as sexual harassment officer, initiating an extensive review and revision of Dalhousie’s sexual harassment policy and procedures. In 2007, she was appointed to support Dalhousie’s Board of Governors and, soon after, brought Dalhousie’s Board and Senate offices together as a united University Secretariat, overseeing a team dedicated to providing professional and administrative support and advice to Dalhousie’s senior governance bodies as they perform their important oversight roles.

Under Susan’s leadership, the University Secretariat has become a vital resource to our Dal community, providing advice, resources and tools to encourage good governance practices across the institution. Her counsel has been valued by multiple presidents, Board chairs and Senate chairs over the years, while initiatives such as the creation of the University Policy Repository exemplify her commitment to clear, consistent and accurate governance information as Dalhousie’s size and scope of mission have grown through the years.   

Susan will be with us until the end of June, and I encourage everyone who’s had the privilege of working with her to find an opportunity to wish her well.   

Merger of General Counsel and University Secretary roles  

Susan’s pending retirement provided an opportunity for Dalhousie to explore a recommendation from the 2018 external review of the Legal Counsel Office: to consider combining the roles of General Counsel and University Secretary, resulting in one role responsible for the provision of legal, governance and policy advice to the President and the executive team. This model exists at several Canadian universities, including the University of Saskatchewan, Toronto Metropolitan University and Queen’s University.   

For the past academic year, John Hope, General Counsel, has worked closely with Susan and her team to carefully review the operations of the two units (Legal Counsel Office and University Secretariat) and consider how such a model could work effectively for Dalhousie while continuing to provide the high-quality service and support our community has come to expect from both offices. My thanks to John and Susan for their thorough, thoughtful work in this regard.   

I am excited to share that we will be moving forward with a new, integrated model for these important university functions. John Hope, currently General Counsel, will take on the newly merged role of General Counsel and University Secretary effective July 1, 2022. In this role, he will serve as Secretary to the Board of Governors and Secretary of Senate. John’s previous involvement and experience with all levels of the governance structure at Dalhousie will serve him well as he takes on this expanded role.   

John will oversee both the Legal Counsel and University Secretariat offices with the support of three team leads: Assistant General Counsel Melisa Marsman, Associate Secretary to the Board Cheryl MacDonald and Associate Secretary to the Senate Judith Ng’ethe. Under their leadership, the offices’ talented staff will continue to provide dedicated, quality service to our Dal community while providing advice on legal, governance and policy issues. To complement the existing 15-member staff and the reworking of some roles and responsibilities, two new positions (a clerk and a policy officer) will be hired in the coming months. Given that the two offices have worked closely for some time and the significant preparation work that’s been undertaken for this merger, we expect a relatively seamless transition in all levels of service to the Board, Senate and university administration.   

We are deeply appreciative of Susan’s exceptional leadership throughout her Dal career and her thoughtful planning to enable this transition. We are confident that John, in his new role as General Counsel and University Secretary will continue to provide excellent service, leadership and counsel to the Dalhousie community. Please join me in wishing both well as they embark on exciting new chapters, respectively.  

Sincerely,  

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor  

2021 Your Voice workplace survey results


March 16, 2022

Thank you to all faculty and staff who participated in the 2021 Your Voice workplace survey, which was conducted last November.

I am pleased to report that we had a 37 percent response rate this year, with 1,700 faculty and staff completing the Your Voice survey.  

This has been a difficult two years for many of us, and we recognize that it has significantly impacted the way we live, work and study. Based on the results from the survey, the majority of you continue to say that you are motivated in your jobs and get a strong sense of achievement from your work and reported improved recognition, meeting effectiveness and an increased sense of belonging. An inclusion score was added in the 2021 survey, which will help inform the university’s equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility work. However, burnout was cited for both faculty and staff, as well as concerns with psychological safety not being adequately addressed, and a decrease in how well you felt informed by senior leaders. I assure you that we take this feedback seriously, and we are committed to taking action to address these concerns.   

I invite you to attend a virtual presentation of the university’s institutional survey results hosted by the Human Resources department on March 22, from 2:30–3:30 p.m. via Microsoft Teams. Register here to attend.   

You can read the full survey report on the Your Voice survey page on the myDal HR site.  

Throughout the spring, leaders will receive their detailed results by faculty and large administrative department and will share those with their teams as they begin to develop 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.  

We are at a pivotal point in time as we begin to emerge from the pandemic, and together, we can make Dalhousie one of the best workplaces in Canada.

Sincerely,

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

Mental Health Awareness Week 2022


March 10, 2022

The last two years of living through a pandemic, and a myriad of other significant global challenges, have made us all the more aware of the importance of our mental health and well-being. We all have an interest in supporting the health and wellness of everyone who works and studies at Dalhousie — as peers, as colleagues, and as fellow human beings. As we look ahead to Mental Health Awareness Week, March 12-19, I wanted to share some of the important work that is currently underway:

National Standard for Mental Health

Dalhousie played a central role in drafting the Canadian National Standard for Mental Health and Well-Being for Post-Secondary Students, a framework developed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada that assists post-secondary institutions in supporting the mental health and well-being of students. The standard will further help us foster an inclusive community that prioritizes mental health and well-being.   

This student-focused standard is a complement to the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace and Dalhousie’s Workplace Wellness strategy. In the coming weeks, there will be an opportunity for all academic and non-academic units in the university, as well as students, to engage in exploring and implementing the recommendations from these Standards. Leaders and their teams will be contacted directly with information on how they can participate.

Workplace Wellness Strategy

Dalhousie’s second Work Well Strategy was launched in September 2021. It identifies strategic initiatives for furthering the university as a healthy workplace and is informed by the Your Voice survey. The 2021 Your Voice survey results will be shared with the Dal community later this month, with reporting for both the overall institution and for each Faculty and large administrative department. This survey measures the factors that form the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, as well as outcomes of healthy workplaces, like personal wellness and resilience.

Mental Health supports for students, faculty and staff

Throughout the year, we also have well-being supports for students available through Dal Student Health and Wellness, and wellness resources for staff and faculty available through the Employee Learning Calendar, a mental health section on the myDal HR site and the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP). Faculty and staff can also explore resources to assist them in supporting students on the Student Health & Wellness SharePoint site.

This important work would not have been possible without members of the Dalhousie community who shared their thoughts about mental health through student surveys, the 2021 Your Voice workplace survey, community self-study groups, and learning circles. This input was instrumental in recognizing community health and well-being as a core value in our Strategic Plan, Third Century Promise.   

A foundation of well-being is essential for us to support, inspire and educate, and to creating a healthy, inclusive, and sustainable future for Dalhousie. I encourage all students, faculty and staff to explore the various initiatives taking place throughout Mental Health Awareness Week.   

Especially in these challenging times, let’s continue our work to support one another.  

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

Invasion of Ukraine: Supports for our Community


February 25, 2022

This has been a difficult week in global affairs. Like many around the world, we are saddened and concerned as we watch terrible events unfold in Ukraine. Dalhousie shares our support and thoughts for those near and far within the Ukrainian community.   

While the international politics of an event such as this are complex — and we are grateful for our Dalhousie experts helping unpack them for us — the human costs and suffering are clear to all of us. As a Dalhousie community, we are united in our hopes for a more peaceful and immediate resolution to this conflict, in the same spirit that we wish for peace for all people affected by conflict and war globally.  

These circumstances add tremendous stress to all affected. If you need support, please reach out:   

Students may find support through Dalhousie’s Student Health & Wellness Centre, committed to providing quality primary and mental health care services. Appointments may be booked online or by calling 902-494-2171 in Halifax or 902-893-6300 in Truro.  

Additional student resources:

  • International Centre: Book an appointment or drop in to chat with an International Centre advisor. 
  • Multifaith Services
  • Mental health resources including same-day counselling, telephone and texting counselling, appointments with Dal’s social worker, online resources and peer support.  
  • Residence students (Halifax): Connect with your RA or call a 24/7 Residence Life Manager at 902-220-9038. Contact our Residence Support Coordinator at rsc@dal.ca to ask questions and get support connecting to resources.
  • Residence students (Truro): Contact an RA or the Residence office at 902-893-7519 or resdalac@dal.ca to ask questions and get support connecting to resources 
  • Students who are experiencing financial difficulty are encouraged to contact the financial aid team in the Registrar’s Office.   

Faculty and staff supports are available through our Employee and Family Assistance Program, which can be accessed at workhealthlife.com, or through the enhanced mental health benefit from Blue Cross, or contact Accessible Employment at accessible.employment@dal.ca for additional support or resources.  

Dalhousie Security is responsible for the safety and security of the Dal community and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Security Services can be reached by phone (902-494-4109 Halifax, or 902-893-4190 Truro), email (security@dal.ca), or via the DalSAFE app, which also includes a Chat with Security function. In addition, our colleagues in Human Rights and Equity Services are available for support at 902-494-6672.  

The Multifaith Centre is hosting “Prayers for Peace” on Wednesday, March 2 at noon in the LeMarchant Place Atrium. This event — open to all members of the Dalhousie community — is an opportunity to stand together on common ground and a time for contemplative reflection and prayer. More information is available through Multifaith Services and all Public Health guidelines will be adhered to on site.   

Let us continue to look out for one another.  

Sincerely,  

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor  

Nominate your star students for IMPACT Awards


January 25, 2022

This spring, the Dalhousie community will celebrate some of our outstanding students as part of the 11th 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. In order to properly recognize our stars, we need to hear from you.  

If you have worked with a student, or students, whose contributions deserve to be recognized — particularly during the collective challenges we have faced over the past two years — I encourage you to nominate them for an IMPACT Award before the Feb. 21 deadline.  

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

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

Sincerely,  

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor