Memos

Latest memo from the president's office:


A note of thanks and appreciation

November 15, 2022

Since the news broke yesterday afternoon that I will be leaving Dalhousie at the end of this year, I have been moved by the thoughtful messages of support and congratulations I have received. I wanted to take this moment to relay my gratitude to the entire Dalhousie community, and also to explain how and why this all came about.

The decision to leave Dalhousie at this point in my life and career was truly unexpected and comes with a great deal of emotion. I had planned to be part of this amazing university for some time to come — at the very least, through until the completion of my term, and hopefully beyond. So this was not something I had contemplated or deliberately sought out, but rather came about from a confluence of opportunities. First was that personal reasons for needing to be closer to my family had grown significantly over the past year. Second was the incredible respect and appreciation I have for McGill and what it has contributed to this country and to the world. And finally, the chance to return to Montreal — the city where my wife Rani and I raised our daughters and called home for close to 20 years.

Rani and I agreed that the opportunity to be closer to family was not to be ignored — but my love of Dalhousie and its people made this one of the more difficult decisions of my career. We have had an amazing journey together these past three years. Although the pandemic presented some of the greatest challenges in the modern history of this institution, we came through it with impressive results (in enrolment, research funding, fundraising and more) and renewed purpose in our mission. This was only possible because of the unwavering dedication of our people. This exceptional constellation of students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters is poised to accomplish truly great things in the next few years, and I am sad I won’t get to be an active part of it. At the same time, I know Dalhousie is so much bigger than its president. While I am proud of what we have accomplished during my time here, I am prouder that there is an entire institution of committed, inspiring people who will ensure Dalhousie continues its ascension into the ranks of the world’s most esteemed and impactful universities.

I am sure there will be more I’ll want to say before we finish our time together. For today, let me once again thank everyone for your kind words of support. I will always consider myself immensely proud to be associated with Dalhousie, and I am heartened to think of how the journeys of two of Canada’s greatest universities might continue to intersect in the years ahead — strengthening research and education in this country, together.

Sincerely,  

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

2022 Archives  

CUPE Strike Ends


November 12, 2022

I am writing to share with our Dalhousie community the welcome news that the CUPE strike is over.

Members of CUPE Local 3912 have voted in favour of the tentative agreement agreed to by the respective bargaining teams earlier this week. Pending approval by Dalhousie’s Board of Governors, a new collective agreement will be in place. CUPE members are now able to return to their important and valued work in support of our students and academic community more broadly. Classes/labs/tutorials will resume on their normal schedules Monday.

I know how difficult this disruption has been for so many of you. To be in limbo and feel uncertain about how courses will be completed has meant stress and concern. With the strike now over, time has indeed been lost, but we do have sufficient time to work together to bring this term to a successful conclusion. The approach to accomplishing this will be a little bit different in each Faculty, department and course, just as the impacts of this strike have varied across the university.

You can find an initial high-level summary of what to expect on the CUPE Strike Information Page. And you can expect to receive more specific instructions in the coming days from your Faculties, departments and programs.

As I said at the beginning of the strike, there has been alignment on the need to make significant improvements in how we support and compensate CUPE members’ vital contributions to our academic mission. What proved challenging was finding agreement on how best to advance those priorities within this next collective agreement.

On behalf of our entire Dalhousie community, I want to thank the members of both negotiating teams for their efforts to find common ground at the bargaining table. As is always the case, reaching an agreement has meant compromises on both sides. But I truly believe that, together, we have laid out a shared path towards a more supportive future for part-time and contract academic work at Dalhousie.

The past few weeks have shown just how much our Dal community relies on the work of our CUPE members to deliver the exceptional academic experiences that our students expect of us. My hope is that all of us — Board, Union, administration and employees alike — will keep that in mind as we take this moment to reflect, seek to better understand one another, and continue to work together towards our shared goal of a stronger Dalhousie for all who work and study here.

A genuine thank you to everyone for the work you do, each and every day, to make our university community a productive and positive environment for everyone.

Sincerely,  

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

Human Resources Search Update


November 1, 2022

As previously shared with our community, we are in the process of searching for our next leader of Human Resources and have been carrying out consultation sessions over the past month.

We also communicated that the Human Resources function at Dalhousie would shift from the Vice-President Finance and Administration’s portfolio to that of the President and Vice-Chancellor and that further consideration would be given to the title of the position. Based on this shift in reporting, feedback from consultations, and the ambitious mandate that lies ahead, we will be moving forward with the title of Vice-President, People and Culture. A title focusing on “people and culture” is in keeping with our partnership-oriented approach to human resources and our vision of inclusive excellence, and best represents the nature of the work ahead for our next leader.

Thank you to those who have already contributed to this search by providing their feedback through the online survey and/or participating in a consultation session. We look forward to providing further updates in the new year as our search process unfolds.

Sincerely,  

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

Launch of Employment Equity Plan


October 31, 2022

We are pleased to introduce the Dalhousie University Employment Equity Plan (2022-2026), a priority within the university’s strategic plan, Third Century Promise, Inclusive Excellence pillar. This comprehensive plan introduces seven priorities and over 50 actions that will help correct disadvantages in employment and introduce positive measures to promote a more representative and inclusive workforce.

The Employment Equity Plan has two major goals:

  • To increase the recruitment of employees from equity-deserving groups.
  • To enhance the experience of current employees from equity-deserving groups.

It is now viewable online and print copies are available upon request.

The Plan was guided by the Employment Systems Review conducted in 2021 that identified barriers in recruitment and retention for equity-deserving groups and proposed solutions to overcoming them.

To learn more, read the Dal News story and visit dal.ca/employment-equity.

If you have any questions about the Employment Equity Plan, please contact Huwaida Medani, manager, employment equity, at 902-444-9424 or Huwaida.medani@dal.ca.

Sincerely,

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

Chris Hattie
Co-Assistant Vice President (Acting), Human Resources

CUPE strike update - Oct. 19


October 19, 2022

As our CUPE members begin their first day of strike action, I wanted to take a moment to share withour entire Dal community some background and perspective on where we are and how we got here.

First, a reminder that if you missed yesterday’s message on the strike and its implications, please visit the CUPE Strike Information Page, which will continue to be updated with the latest information along with Q&As.

Finding common ground

A labour dispute is one of the more challenging experiences a university community can go through. It puts strain on nearly every facet of our university — most of all, on our students. In the case of a CUPE strike, it’s important to remember that many of those who are striking are also students themselves.

This group includes other important colleagues in our academic life. CUPE members — Part-Time Academics, Teaching Assistants, Markers and Demonstrators — play critical roles in the academic life of the university. They support nearly every department and Faculty. They teach. They tutor. They create memorable lab and fieldwork experiences. They ensure students get timely feedback on assignments and examinations. They are a key part of delivering Dalhousie’s outstanding academic experience and helping our students succeed in their academic pursuits.

We are disappointed that the negotiating teams for the University’s Board and CUPE Local 3912 were not successful in attempts to come to a tentative agreement. Part of that disappointment stems from the fact that all parties at the bargaining table share the same beliefs about the important roles CUPE members play in our community. One of our strongest shared beliefs is that CUPE members' compensation needs to be fair and commensurate with the important role they play in our institution.

We agree with CUPE’s commitment to bringing Dalhousie’s wages for Part-Time Academics, TAs, Markers and Demonstrators closer in line with similar roles at our national comparators. We want to find ways to account for the increased costs of living while we all hope that inflation can be brought under control. And Markers and Demonstrators, in particular, are CUPE roles where we need to address gaps in compensation.

The past two years of bargaining have included extensive work with a conciliator and one tentative agreement reached that was voted down by CUPE members earlier this year. Unfortunately, despite what we feel has been significant progress made at the table, the two sides have not been able to fully align on the particulars of how to achieve these shared goals. CUPE 3912 members have decided to exercise their legal right to strike action.

Dalhousie’s proposal

In the interest of transparency, the final offer presented at the table on behalf of Dal’s Board of Governors has been made publicly available on the Labour Relations website. The proposal is a three-year contract that, over the three years, would provide:

  • A 12 per cent wage increase to part-time academics
  • An 8 per cent wage increase to hourly paid instructors
  • A 17 per cent wage increase to Teaching Assistants
  • A 30 per cent wage increase to Markers and Demonstrators

We believe these increases are significant and would represent substantial progress towards our shared goals.

In addition to monetary considerations, there are two other issues raised by CUPE during negotiations where we feel an explanation of the university’s point of view would be helpful.

  • CUPE has requested that all TAs receive their offer letter of employment one week prior to the start of classes. This would require TAs for the fall term to be recruited in the summertime — when many, if not most, of the students who would be applying for these roles aren’t even on campus — and for all TAs to be hired when course enrolment is still uncertain. This means the amount of support a course may require, and even which courses will be offered or not, is still subject to change. For these reasons, we feel this CUPE proposal does not align with the realities of our academic calendar.
  • CUPE has also requested that we eliminate the Marker and Demonstrator roles entirely and classify all CUPE members as Teaching Assistants. Our academic community relies on CUPE members in distinct ways. Some Faculties, departments and programs need more support in labs or in grading and marking, while others require the more fulsome responsibilities of TAs. We strongly believe that having distinct roles within our CUPE membership, with distinct compensation appropriate for those roles, is a fair and accurate reflection of the duties being performed across the university. We do wish to recognize the importance of the work done by Markers and Demonstrators, which is reflected in the higher wage increase being proposed for these roles.

What comes next

Even though most Dal courses are continuing, we know these initial days of a CUPE strike will represent a significant disruption to our students and our entire academic community. While I have great confidence in our community’s ability to work through these challenges, there is no doubt the impacts will be felt across the university.

You have our assurance that Dalhousie is committed to exploring all options to reach an agreement with CUPE that will bring this strike to a swift conclusion. We believe strongly in the shared goals that came through the collective bargaining process — and that there is fair agreement that can be reached based on those goals.

Please continue to visit the CUPE Strike Information Page in the days ahead, and we promise to share any significant updates as soon as we are able to.

Sincerely,

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

Vice-President, Advancement transition plan


October 17, 2022

We are in the very early stages of our search to identify our next Vice-President, Advancement. An external search firm will be engaged to assist with recruitment and we will soon be identifying a committee in accordance with the Senior Administrative Appointments Policy.

While we undertake this search, an interim Co-VP model will be put in place with Ben McIsaac (Assistant Vice-President, Development & Campaign) and Sheila Blair-Reid (Assistant Vice-President, Alumni & External Engagement) assuming these roles. We anticipate this interim arrangement will be in place for approximately 9-12 months.

I extend my sincere appreciation to Ben and Sheila for taking on these increased responsibilities and would also like to acknowledge the steadfast support of the entire Advancement team during this time of transition.

Sincerely,

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

Invitation to provide input: HR leader


October 11, 2022

As you may be aware, Dalhousie University is launching a comprehensive search for its next leader of Human Resources. We have engaged the search firm Royer Thompson to assist with the search process and a search committee has been formed — the list of members is included below.

We are also undertaking a review of the position's title given the shift in reporting structure announced in the summer, which saw human resources move under the portfolio of the President and Vice-Chancellor.

Given the importance of the role, feedback from our community is essential to a successful search process. 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 HR leader.

The consultation process will continue over the next month and will involve one-on-one and group meetings with members of the community. In addition, all community members are invited to complete this electronic survey to share their thoughts about the priorities for the next HR leader and the experience and competencies candidates should possess. The survey is anonymous and should take less than 10 minutes to complete. We would appreciate if you could complete the survey by end of day October 28, 2022.

Finally, you may also provide confidential input into the search at any time by contacting Amy Reid, Partner and VP Recruitment at Royer Thompson at areid@royerthompson.com (902- 422-2099) or Laura Godsoe, Director, Executive Recruitment and Employment Equity at Dalhousie at laura.godsoe@dal.ca (902-800-1729).

Thank you for your contribution to this important process.

Sincerely,

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

Search Committee Members:

Deep Saini, President and Vice-Chancellor (Chair)
Gitta Kulczycki, Vice-President Finance and Administration
Barbara Hamilton-Hinch, Associate Professor & Assistant Vice-Provost Equity and Inclusion
Brenda Merritt, Dean, Faculty of Health
Jody Couch, Chief Information Officer & Assistant Vice-President, Information Technology Services
John Hope, General Counsel and University Secretary
David Gray, Dean, Faculty of Agriculture and Campus Principal, Truro
Judy MacDonald, Professor & Director, School of Social Work
Brent Young, Academic Director, Indigenous Health, Faculty of Medicine
Markus Sharaput, Senior Instructor, School of Public Administration and Senate Representative
Cheryl Fraser, Member of the Board of Governors

Dalhousie's Annual United Way Campaign


October 7, 2022

For more than 200 years, our students, alumni, faculty, and staff have made an impact in our region, our country, and our world. For close to 100 years, Dalhousie has supported the United Way — and our commitment is still going strong.   

Each year, the Dal community comes together to show their support for individuals and families in need, generously donating funds and volunteer hours to help fight poverty and build neighbourhoods. The pandemic, and most recently Hurricane Fiona, have further exposed inequalities and created new needs in our communities that we cannot ignore. The United Way has been there throughout to provide support.   

On Tuesday, October 11, Dalhousie’s annual United Way campaign kicks off, with the goal of raising $140,000.

The money raised through employee donations and fundraising events supports hundreds of important programs and resources in our communities. Your donation changes lives and it stays local. Donations made on our Agricultural Campus will go towards United Way Colchester; Carleton, Sexton and Studley donations are directed to United Way Halifax; and funds raised by Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick will go to United Way Saint John.   

I encourage you to get involved in this year’s United Way campaign in any way you can. If you have any questions about this year’s campaign or want to get involved, please contact a member of the Steering Committee or your Employee Campaign Coordinator.   

I hope you will join me in supporting the United Way and help us reach our goal of $140,000. To learn more about Dalhousie’s United Way campaign, get involved, or make a donation, please visit dal.ca/unitedway or contact Dal’s United Way co-chairs, Emily Huner or Trisha Estabrooks.

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

Invitation to Fall Convocation


October 6, 2022

The Dalhousie community will soon welcome our Fall 2022 graduates to one of four Convocation ceremonies that will take place on Tuesday, November 1 and Wednesday, November 2 in the Dalhousie Arts Centre’s Rebecca Cohn Auditorium.

We encourage you to attend Convocation whenever possible. Convocation ceremonies are one of Dalhousie’s most significant events, and it means a great deal to the graduates to see you there and share in this important accomplishment.

You do not need to RSVP to be part of the Academic Procession. However, if you do not own academic dress, please be sure to make a reservation through the Online Academic Dress Reservation Portal no later than October 19. If you are unable to attend, the ceremonies will be available for public viewing via webcast.

I would also like to encourage individuals to consider celebrating the achievements of our graduates with us by volunteering at one of our Convocation ceremonies. The success of Convocation relies on the contributions of faculty, staff and students across the Dal community. This year, we are opening up our volunteer pool to the entire university community, offering more people the opportunity to be part of making this special event happen. We would love to have you as part of Convocation. Please reach out to the Convocation Team to learn more about the various volunteer roles and the many ways you can help.

While masks will not be required at Convocation, they are strongly recommended. The university will continue to closely monitor the state of public health measures and communicate any changes to protocols if needed.

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

November 1 at 9:00 am: Faculties of Dentistry, Health, and Graduate Studies

November 1 at 12:30 pm: Faculties of Agriculture, Architecture and Planning, Engineering, Medicine, and Graduate Studies

November 2 at 9:00 am: Faculties of Arts and Social Sciences, Computer Science, Graduate Studies, and the Schulich School of Law
    
Honorary Degree Recipient: Mr. David Ainsley Woods

November 2 at 12:30 pm: Faculties of Management, Science, and Graduate Studies

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

I hope you will join us in recognizing and celebrating Dalhousie’s newest graduates.

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

Mi'kmaq History Month


October 3, 2022

Dear Dalhousie community:

Kwe'! For the past 29 years the month of October has been officially declared as Mi’kmaq History Month - Wi’kipatmu’k Mi'kmawey. In 1993, Premier John Savage and Mi’kmaw Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy designated October as the official month to recognize and celebrate Mi’kmaw culture and heritage. The month begins with Treaty Day (October 1) which speaks to the 1752 Peace and Friendship Treaty. When we acknowledge “we are all treaty people,” it is in reference to treaties such as this which to this day guide our relationships on lands the Mi’kmaq have called home for thousands of years. These treaties are part of a long tradition of relationship-making meant to protect Indigenous ways of life with reciprocity and respect.

Dalhousie’s faculty, staff, students and alumni join with other Nova Scotians to celebrate and build awareness of Mi'kmaq history and heritage, and to increase understanding of the rich Mi'kmaq culture. This is a month to learn, to reflect, to listen and to share.

On Wednesday, Dalhousie will host our 12th annual Mawio’mi in Halifax, one of our university’s most beloved annual gatherings. All are invited to attend and take part in the food and festivities.

Dalhousie proudly and permanently flies the Mi’kmaq Grand Council Flag on all campuses. Last week, as we marked the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (September 30), Dalhousie also raised the orange “Every Child Matters” flag to acknowledge the inter-generational impacts of residential schools.  The flag will continue to fly throughout Mi’kmaq History Month.

Every year, the Mi’kmaq History Month Committee selects a poster to commemorate the month.  This year it has chosen to highlight Mi’kmaw Beadwork & the Art of Beading as its theme:

“Mi’kmaw beadwork represents life and creation. Generations of hands, eyes, backs, and fingers have worked for balance in intricate designs and colour palettes. From wampum and bone beads to suspenders and peaked caps to contemporary medallions, beauty emerges from skill and love. Ceremonies have a special place to focus the intentions of artists’ hearts and minds. In kitchens and wikuoml masters have shared their practice with those who were dedicated. In turn, they were asked to share with the next generation. Agnes ‘Aggie Baby’ Gould told new beaders “share, please share.” We carry that teaching in our hearts as we celebrate this year’s poster.”

The message of the beadwork reminds us that despite the challenges faced by the Indigenous/Mi’kmaw peoples, they continue to thrive, celebrate and create. This is a powerful message for all of Dalhousie’s students, faculty and staff. It prompts us to strive to better understand the teachings of the Mi’kmaq and include these in our own teaching, research, learning (and unlearning) of Indigenous knowledge, practices, and culture. (For those looking for a good place to start this work, here is a listing of helpful resources.) This is important as Dalhousie continues its efforts towards reconciliation through its many Indigenous initiatives and engagement under the guidance and leadership of the Indigenous Advisory Council, our Elders-in-Residence, and through closer collaboration with the Mi’kmaw communities on whose territory Dalhousie sits.

M’sit Nokomaq / All my relations,

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

Theresa Rajack-Talley
Vice-Provost Equity and Inclusion

Catherine Martin
Director of Indigenous Community Engagement

Unsanctioned street parties near Studley Campus


October 2, 2022

Today, we share in the frustration of our community and partners regarding last night’s reckless behaviour and the organization of unsanctioned and illegal street parties near campus.

We were very clear in all communications to our students [September 16September 28] that organizing and attending an unsanctioned and illegal street party is unacceptable given the direct, disturbing and inexcusable impacts on our community and families living close to campus. This high-risk and destructive behaviour showed a complete disregard for laws promoting the safety and well-being of our surrounding neighbourhoods and included public intoxication and confrontations with the police — behaviour that is consistently being promoted and idealized by the Instagram account Canadian Party Life and its affiliates. As we have said in previous weeks, we are deeply concerned about this movement taking place across the country that forces communities and our partners to bear the brunt of this alarming trend without any sense of responsibility from the organizers and students engaged in these acts.

It is the jurisdiction of the Halifax Regional Police (HRP) to enforce the law in HRM. We also intend to investigate and determine appropriate consequences for the members of our Dalhousie student community who were involved in or helped to organize these dangerous parties.

We want to thank the vast majority of our students who answered our call to connect and celebrate in ways that took care of and respected each other and our shared communities. It is with these students in mind that we aim to build a richer and more vibrant student experience at Dalhousie, one that taps into the desire to connect, belong, and show how school spirit can uplift our entire community.

We also thank the many members of our Dalhousie community, including staff in residence, Security, Student Affairs, student volunteers with the Dalhousie Campus Medical Response Team, student leaders, and many others who worked tirelessly to promote the safety and well-being of our student and surrounding communities, and mitigate impacts of these events on our broader first-response community.

We are appreciative of our community partners, who worked with our staff to help prepare in anticipation of these events and keep people safe to the best of their abilities. We also want to express our gratitude to our neighbours who kept in close contact and continue to engage with us on strategies to address this complex challenge facing many communities across Canada.

To our neighbours, we certainly understand why you are disappointed and angry. Once again, you have been made to feel unsafe in your own home. We stand beside you in our commitment to continue to confront toxic and unsafe party culture. Important collaborative work began this year and we will continue that work this fall. While this is a complex issue that will not be solved overnight, we will continue to address the urgency of the situation while we ensure this longer-term work is strong and supported.

For more than 200 years, Dalhousie University has lived in concert with our Halifax community. Our ability to teach, learn, research, and contribute to the vitality of this city is founded and sustained by the goodwill and engagement of our community. You have our unwavering commitment to working toward a more enriching experience at Dalhousie and in our community.

Sincerely,  

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor, Dalhousie University

Advancement leadership announcement


September 28, 2022

I wish to inform you that Peter Fardy is no longer with Dalhousie University, effective today. Dalhousie thanks Mr. Fardy for his years of service as Vice-President, Advancement.

An interim Vice-President, Advancement will be appointed shortly and the search for a permanent Vice-President, Advancement will begin.

I would like to thank the entire Advancement team for their continued dedication and support during this time of transition.

As a matter of practice related to all personnel matters, we will not comment further to respect privacy.

Sincerely,

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

Caring for our community post-Fiona


September 28, 2022

Last weekend’s devastating storm, Fiona, has had many impacts on our students, faculty, and staff. I want to say a heartfelt thank you to the many Dal employees and teams who have been working tirelessly through the weekend’s events, spending time away from their own families and homes to ensure essential campus operations continued and that students had access to meals and other necessities. A special thank you to staff in Housing, our Residence Life teams, Dal Security, Facilities Management, and to Athletics & Recreation for opening their doors to members of the community who needed to access electricity or hot showers.

Thank you to our students for your patience and understanding and for the support you have shown one another and our community in getting through this storm. We recognize that, for many, this may have been their first significant weather event, and that it may have created stress in terms of meeting basic needs, while also navigating the normal stresses of university life.

As we work hard to resume campus operations, there are many supports available should you need them:

  • 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.  
  • Students can also reach out to their instructors for course-specific information regarding synchronous academic delivery, deadlines etc. that may have been impacted by hurricane Fiona and our campus closure.
  • 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.  

We ask that members of our community continue to show kindness, patience and understanding to each other in the days ahead. We have also heard indications of students considering attending an unsanctioned street gathering in Halifax this upcoming weekend, given last weekend’s interruptions. We want to remind students that organizing and attending an unsanctioned and illegal street party is unacceptable given our responsibilities to our shared Halifax community.

We ask students considering attending to be mindful of the fact that our community is still recovering from the devasting impacts of Fiona. This includes our emergency and essential workers who have been working tirelessly over the past week and whose capacity is very stretched. We must also remember that we are heading into a long weekend marked by reflection, learning and a commitment to Truth and Reconciliation. Please make responsible choices, and carefully and critically consider the impacts of your decisions as outlined in our previous memo on the matter.

We pulled together through the COVID pandemic, and we are pulling together after Fiona. It is a true characteristic trait of our Dalhousie community that we are at our best when we are helping one another. In the days ahead, please continue to take care of our yourselves, each other, and our collective community.

Sincerely,  

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor, Dalhousie University

Holiday on September 19


September 14, 2022

The Government of Canada and Government of Nova Scotia have both announced they will be recognizing Monday, September 19 as a holiday in honour of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral service. Government offices, public schools and regulated child care will all be closed.

Dalhousie University and the University of King’s College will follow the precedent set by our federal and provincial governments in recognizing this holiday on Monday, September 19.   

This means that on Monday:

  • Classes will not be held.
  • Most university offices and services will be closed.  
  • For employees, this day will be treated as a holiday in accordance with collective agreements and handbooks, and only employees designated as essential will be required to work that day. Please connect with your supervisor if you have questions.
  • Research labs and spaces will continue to be accessible to researchers.
  • Select libraries (Killam, CHEB, MacRae and King’s) will be open on holiday hours. Other library locations will be closed.  
  • Residence dining halls will remain open, but other Food Services locations will be closed.
  • Student Health and Wellness clinics will be open at reduced hours: Halifax - only for primary care and same day counselling appointments; Truro - for pre-booked appointments only.
  • Athletic and fitness facilities in Halifax and Truro will be open Monday with reduced hours. The Dalhousie Physiotherapy Clinic will remain open on normal hours.
  • The Student Union Building will be closed.  
  • This list of impacts is not exhaustive — if you have questions about a campus service or activity, please consult with the unit or department directly.  

In line with federal and provincial protocol, all campus flags are currently flying at half-mast to mark this period of mourning. They will remain so until the morning of Tuesday, September 20.

Sincerely,  

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor, Dalhousie University

Bill Lahey
President and Vice-Chancellor, University of King's College 

Beginning the New Academic Year


September 6, 2022

With today marking the first day of classes, it is my pleasure to welcome our students back to campus – with a special welcome to our cohort of new students at the beginning of their Dalhousie journey.

The start of the new academic year always brings a sense of enthusiasm and anticipation. After a challenging couple of years that have required many in our community to move to and from remote work, teaching and learning, I am thrilled that we are able to be together in person this fall.

While many of us are understandably caught up in the excitement of the moment, it is important to remember that we are all still living with the pandemic. Please continue to look out for one another and demonstrate respect and empathy in interactions with your peers, colleagues and neighbours. In addition, stay informed, and follow Dalhousie’s COVID-19 information, updates and guidance – including wearing your mask in all indoor classrooms and instructional spaces and staying home if you are sick.

In addition to the start of classes, today we will be hosting a “Welcome Fair” between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. in green spaces all around the Studley Campus, with games, food, and more. An outdoor induction event and reception will take place beginning at 11:30 a.m. in the Studley Quad, and all students, staff and faculty are welcome and encouraged to attend. It will be a wonderful chance to take in the festive atmosphere of the day and welcome our newest Dalhousie students to campus.

Please accept my very best wishes for the year ahead. I look forward to crossing paths on campus, and to working together to make this a truly exceptional year.

Sincerely,  

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

Call for Nominations – President's Awards for the Advancement of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility


August 4, 2022

At Dalhousie, we aspire to be a national leader in championing equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility (EDIA). Inclusive excellence is core to our strategic plan, Third Century Promiseand the efforts of our faculty, students and staff in advancing EDIA are vital to our collective success.  

Each year, we recognize individuals and groups across our campuses who have made outstanding contributions in this space with President’s Awards for the Advancement of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility – and we are now inviting nominations for the 2021-2022 awards.   

We encourage the nomination of individuals or groups (including units, departments, faculties, or campus organizations) and will be providing three awards: 

  • A faculty or staff individual award  
  • A faculty or staff group award  
  • A student individual or group award 

Nominees should demonstrate a commitment to dismantling systemically unjust structures and promote an inclusive campus community at Dalhousie, going above and beyond what would normally be expected in their everyday duties to accomplish these objectives.    

If you have worked with an individual or group who deserves recognition for their exceptional or creative efforts to advance Dalhousie’s EDIA work, please nominate them by September 14, 2022.    

More information about the nomination process, along with the nomination forms, may be found here.  

Please help us recognize and celebrate the extraordinary work happening across our campuses to make Dalhousie a thriving community where everyone belongs.   

Sincerely,  

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor   

Theresa Rajack-Talley
Vice-Provost Equity and Inclusion

Human Resources reporting structure 


June 12, 2022

In recognition of the strategic importance of the Human Resources function at Dalhousie and our commitment to campus culture, we have made the decision to shift the reporting structure of the Human Resources unit from the portfolio of the Vice-President Finance and Administration to that of the President and Vice-Chancellor. This change follows an environmental scan related to best practices across the post-secondary sector and consultation with key stakeholders. Additionally, having Human Resources represented at the President’s Executive table will be critically important as we continue to evolve our approach to work in a rapidly shifting sector.

As previously shared, we are in the very early stages of a search for a new HR leader. Comprehensive consultation with the university community is scheduled for the fall, and as part of that process, further consideration will be given to the title of the position. We hope to have this position filled by summer 2023, when this change in reporting and title will take effect.

In the meantime, we are extremely fortunate to have excellent interim leadership in place and extend our sincere appreciation to Chris Hattie and Laura Neals, who have seamlessly stepped into the role of Co-Assistant Vice-President (Acting) of the HR function. Their commitment to the Dalhousie community, their colleagues and principled leadership is noteworthy, and we are in excellent hands with their guidance and support.

Sincerely,

Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor

Gitta Kulczycki
Vice-President, Finance and Administration

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  

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