Memos

Latest memos from the President's Office:


Celebrating the Class of 2020 

May 19, 2020


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

To the Dalhousie Class of 2020, 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, many of 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 spring, I am writing today to share details about how you may participate from wherever you are.

A special Class of 2020 page will serve as a virtual space to share in the excitement with our newest graduates. We will showcase some of the virtual Convocation activities happening in our faculties, departments, schools and units, as well as content submitted by graduates and supporters and stories about some of this year’s many impressive graduates. You will also be able to share congratulatory posts, photos, video and links easily here.

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 

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