2016/17 Archives

Summer food drive for Feed Nova Scotia

July 11, 2017: 

Last summer, we learned that Feed Nova Scotia was critically low on food supplies and had to turn people away from food banks. In response, the Dalhousie community rallied together and donated more than one tonne of much-needed supplies. 

To avoid a similar situation this year, Feed Nova Scotia is proactively asking community members and organizations to host food drives and fundraisers throughout the month of July — and we’re hoping to show our support once again. 

On Wednesday, July 12, Feed Nova Scotia donation boxes will be in buildings on all four Dal campuses for individuals and groups to make their donations. You can find locations here. Our Facilities Management team will be collecting these donations on Friday, July 21 and delivering them to the Feed Nova Scotia warehouse that afternoon. 

Feed Nova Scotia, which distributes food to 146 agencies across the province, helps feed over 22,000 people each month. To avoid waste, we encourage donations of canned goods and/or food in plastic containers. They are looking, specifically, for the following items: 

• Canned meat and fish
• Peanut butter
• Canned beans
• Canned fruits
• Soups and stews
• Pasta and rice
• Cereal

My sincere thanks and appreciation to everyone sharing their time and resources to make this food drive possible. If you are able, I strongly encourage you to make a donation and continue our long tradition of giving back to our community. Alternatively, if you prefer to make a cash donation — as I’ll be doing myself — you can do so here


2017 Quality of Work Life Survey Results

June 22, 2017: 

Thank you to all faculty and staff who participated in this year’s Quality of Work Life (QWL) Survey, which was conducted from April 18 to May 5. The survey considers all aspects of our individual and collective experience. 

I invite you to attend a presentation on the survey results on Tuesday, June 27, 2 to 3 p.m., Theatre A, Tupper Building Link, Carleton Campus. Jasmine Walsh, Assistant Vice-President, Human Resources, will lead the presentation, along with a representative from Morneau Shepell, the survey provider. For those who cannot attend in person, the presentation will be webcast live via Adobe Connect [http://dal.adobeconnect.com/guest/] and subsequently archived. 

Based on the results from the 2017 survey, you said that you continue to take pride in your work at Dalhousie and you see positive changes being made on campus with diversity and inclusiveness. However, you also indicated that you are having challenges remaining physically active and that you would like to see a more respectful workplace. You can read more about the survey in this Dal News story. The full survey report is available on the Human Resources site on myDal.

Great organizations are built around great people, and Dalhousie is no exception. It takes all of us, together, to make Dalhousie a great workplace. The QWL results will inform efforts university-wide under our Work Well strategy, with particular focus on mental health, physical health and workplace culture. Our Human Resources team will also be working with faculty and department senior leaders to develop localized action plans to respond to their own results. 

I encourage you to attend the presentation on June 27 to learn more about our survey results and the connection between your health and the university’s overall health. Together, we can make Dalhousie one of the best workplaces in Canada.

Invitation to Strawberry Social on June 28

June 7, 2017:

This year will be our fifth Strawberry Social, an annual event held to celebrate our successes over the past year. 

Please join us on the Quad in front of the Henry Hicks Building on Wednesday, June 28 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. There will be a new menu (keeping with our Strawberry theme), live entertainment and lawn games.

Supervisors, please encourage your teams to attend this event; it's a great way to connect with colleagues across the university.

If it rains, we'll move into the Great Hall of the University Club.

I hope to see you there!

Dr. Ford Doolittle awarded Killam Prize in the Natural Sciences

May 2, 2017: 

I am very pleased to announce that Dalhousie's Dr. Ford Doolittle of the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology is the 2017 recipient of the prestigious Killam Prize in the Natural Sciences from the Canada Council for the Arts. 

The Killam Prize is one of Canada’s most prestigious scholarly honours. The $100,000 prize, awarded annually in five different fields, celebrates outstanding career achievement.

This marks the second year in a row that the Killam Prize in the Natural Sciences has been awarded to a Dalhousie researcher. Last year, Chemistry’s Dr. Axel Becke was the recipient. Past Dalhousie Killam Prize winners also include Dr. Susan Sherwin (Philosophy) and Dr. Brian Hall (Biology).

Dr. Doolittle and Dr. Becke are also recent recipients of the $1-million NSERC Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering. Together with this year’s recipient, Dr. Jeff Dahn, Dalhousie researchers have won three of the past four Herzberg Medals — a remarkable run of achievement recognizing three outstanding, world-leading researchers.

Dr. Doolittle is one of the world's top molecular biologists and has been working on the frontiers of research in evolutionary biology for more than 40 years. He has fundamentally altered our understanding of evolutionary biology, demonstrating that Darwin’s “tree of life” model of evolution failed to account for two-thirds of life on earth and proposing lateral gene transfer as the driving force in early evolution. Dr. Doolittle has received numerous awards and honours for his research, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a member of the US National Academy of Sciences. 

Dr. Doolittle will receive his Killam Prize in a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa later this month. (Learn more about Dr. Doolittle in our Dal News story on his award.) 

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Doolittle. We are deeply proud of his achievements and his commitment to examining some of the fundamental questions around evolution, genetics and the building blocks of life itself.

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

March 20, 2017 - 

On March 21, Dalhousie will observe the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. First recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in 1966, March 21 is the anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre, in which South African police killed 69 people during a peaceful protest against apartheid.  

At Dalhousie, this day is an opportunity to note the recent theft of the Pan-African flag, which we raised to celebrate African Heritage Month. This incident has been disturbing. Dalhousie is proud to have been the first Canadian university to raise the Pan-African flag on its campuses, an important step in creating a culture grounded in diversity and inclusiveness. To recognize the importance of the Pan-African flag as a symbol of our diversity and to highlight the significance of March 21, we are encouraging all students, faculty and staff to a wear Kente cloth pin. Pins will be available in the following locations: 

- Black Student Advising Centre
- Dalhousie Student Union Info Desk
- Global Health Office
- International Centre
- President’s Office
- Front desks at Dalhousie Residence Halls
- Community Outreach Office, Security Services (LSC)
- Dean’s Office – Faculty of Agriculture

We are also raising the Pan-African flag on our Studley campus on Tuesday, March 21 and every morning for the remainder of the week, as a symbol of our allegiance and strength.  

International Women's Week at Dalhousie

March 6, 2017:

Today marks the first day of International Women’s Week (IWW) at Dalhousie, with International Women’s Day falling on Wednesday, March 8. The week presents our community with an opportunity to celebrate the many contributions and achievements of women on our campus and worldwide.

The theme of International Women’s Day 2017 is ‘Equality Matters.’ It encourages us to reflect on progress towards gender equality and acknowledge the challenges that women still face in their quest for gender equality.

Students, faculty and staff will be hosting a series of events throughout the week to recognize and celebrate women, including a film screening of The Abominable Crime; HER-STORY: A panel discussion with Black Women in Health Careers; Women Reading Women with Dalhousie's Writer-in-Residence Sue Goyette; and an in-depth conversation with Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard. To learn more about events on and off campus during IWW, visit the Human Rights & Equity Services website.


As part of our Strategic Direction, Dalhousie has a collective commitment to fostering a culture grounded in diversity and inclusiveness. We encourage all members of our community to attend and contribute to these important conversations about why gender equality matters. I hope to see you throughout the week. 


Appointment of Acting Vice-President Research

February 21, 2017:

It is with pleasure that I announce the appointment of Dr. John Newhook as Acting Vice-President Research, commencing May 1, 2017.  

Dr. Newhook is currently Professor, Department of Civil Resource Engineering, and Director of the Centre for Innovation in Infrastructure in Dalhousie’s Faculty of Engineering. He has served in various administrative roles at Dalhousie at the department, faculty and university-wide level, including Associate Vice-President Research from 2011 – 2016. Dr. Newhook earned a PhD in Structural Engineering from Dalhousie and a MASc and BEng from the former Technical University of Nova Scotia.

He is active in a number of technical societies including the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (currently serving as Vice-President Technical Programs) and is a founding executive committee member of the International Society for Structural Health Monitoring of Intelligent Infrastructure (ISHMII), which includes leading experts from Canada, US, Europe, Asia and India. A registered engineer and consultant to the Canadian Highway Bridge Design Code, Dr. Newhook has served as Chair of the Buried Structures Technical Sub-Committee since 2012.

I thank John for agreeing to serve in this role and look forward to working closely with him over the coming months.

I also want to take this opportunity to once again thank Dr. Martha Crago for her many ongoing contributions to our University community. The search for a new Vice-President Research will commence in the coming weeks.

Impacts of U.S. travel restrictions

Dalhousie University, alongside universities across Canada, is deeply concerned with the executive order issued in the United States that prevents individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days.

The impacts of this executive order on universities vary, affecting students, faculty and staff, and researchers directly, as well as research partnerships, international studies, academic conference participation, field visits and, in some cases, family relationships of students, faculty and staff.

Together with Universities Canada, we support the call from the American Association of Universities for this ban to end as quickly as possible. We are also working closely with Universities Canada and other Canadian universities on ways we can support students, faculty, staff and researchers from these countries who have been caught up in the sudden implementation of the executive order. At Dalhousie, we are currently putting in place specific plans on how we can help accommodate these individuals.

We also know there are members of our university community who may be affected by these new travel restrictions and the impacts vary from individual to individual. We are here to help. We have set up a help line (902-494-1566) and email (UStravelbanhelp@dal.ca) to offer support and information for students, staff, faculty and researchers. Please contact us if you have any concerns.

Dalhousie welcomes students, faculty and staff from around the world, including those seeking refuge from violence and hardship. They strengthen all of our universities and our country by bringing new knowledge, talent and skills. We stand for diversity and inclusion. Please feel free to contact the Provost’s Office directly with any further concerns and suggestions.

African Heritage Month at Dalhousie

January 27, 2017:

February is African Heritage Month, an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the many contributions of African Nova Scotians, African Canadians and the diaspora on our campus and in our community.

This year’s provincial theme for African Heritage Month is Passing the Torch… African Nova Scotians and the Next 150. This theme encourages us to reflect on and honour past and present legacies, while looking ahead to future achievements. It is particularly relevant at Dalhousie, an environment dedicated to educating and supporting our future leaders, as we examine our own past in preparation for our third century.

There will be a series of events held on campus throughout the month to honour African history and culture, including an African Heritage Month kick-off celebration on Thursday, February 2 at noon in University Hall. All are welcome to attend and I hope to see you there.

To learn more about African Heritage Month and events happening on campus, visit the Human Rights & Equity Services website.

Invitation: Annual Dalhousie Carol Sing

December 5, 2016:

As 2016 winds to a close, and a new year approaches, the upcoming holiday season offers an opportunity for reflection and celebration. Accordingly, I invite you to join me at this year’s Annual Dalhousie Carol Sing on Tuesday, December 20th.

Jacqueline Warwick, Director, Fountain School of Performing Arts, will lead us in spirited renditions of classic carols, Hanukah songs and other holiday favourites. We are also very happy to once again have members of the All Nations Drum group join us for a traditional drumming welcome. I encourage you to bring your friends and family as we come together to enjoy what has become a highly anticipated holiday tradition.

Singing will begin at noon in the Sculpture Court of the Dalhousie Arts Centre on University Avenue. As in past years, a light lunch will be provided following the musical portion of the event, as well as fantastic door prizes, the United Way 50/50 draw and the presentation of the Healthy Workplace Award.

I hope you can take a few moments out of your busy day to participate in this wonderful event, and I look forward to seeing everyone there.

Important announcement re: Dr. Martha Crago

December 2, 2016:

It is with very mixed emotions that I share the news that Dr. Martha Crago will return home to Montreal and McGill University as Vice-Principal of Research and Innovation effective July 1, 2017. This news is bittersweet for me and for all of us at Dalhousie because we will miss her so very much, and yet we share in her excitement at moving home to Montréal to her family, and to her alma mater McGill University.
Dr. Crago joined Dalhousie University as Vice-President Research in 2008. Her tenure has been nothing short of historic, expanding the international scope and scale of Dal research while forging stronger bonds with cross-sector partners here in our region. Her vision, leadership and tenacity helped grow research funding by 28 per cent, acquire support for numerous large-scale research initiatives, and build key partnerships to fuel innovation and economic development.
Some of the many highlights of her time at Dalhousie include:

  • A successful application to the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, launching the Ocean Frontier Institute with the largest federal research grant in Dalhousie history ($93.7M).
  • A $25M Network of Centres of Excellence grant for MEOPAR (Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response Network).
  • Significant funding for Dal’s world-leading lithium-ion battery battery research from both the Auto Partnership of Canada program ($10M) and Tesla Motors ($10M).
  • Drafting and implementing Dalhousie’s Strategic Research Plan and our Institutional Framework for the Support of Research.
  • Welcoming German Chancellor Angela Merkel to campus in 2012.

Dr. Crago’s legacy stretches well beyond Dal’s walls. From serving on the One Nova Scotia Coalition to her vision and support for Atlantic Canada’s emerging ocean cluster, she has passionately worked to strengthen our province and region through research and innovation. Her impact on this university and its community will resonate for years to come.
Details on a search for her replacement as Vice-President Research will follow in the near future. For now, please join me in congratulating Dr. Crago on her exciting news, thanking her for nearly nine years of exceptional service, and wishing her the very best as she rejoins a great university and moves closer to her children, her grandson and her baby granddaughter.

Dalhousie Census - Be counted!

November 21, 2016:

Today we are kicking off our second annual Dalhousie Census. The census provides us with valuable information about our community, which helps improve programs, supports and services related to diversity and inclusiveness. 

The “Be Counted” campaign will run from November 21 – December 2. During that time, we encourage all Dalhousie faculty, staff and students to visit dal.ca/BeCounted and follow the steps to complete the Faculty/Staff Census. (If your primary affiliation is as a student, choose the Student Census). The census should only take a few minutes to complete and your information will remain confidential.

The aggregated data collected from the 2015 census was shared with the university community earlier this year, and the first Employment Equity Annual Report is now accessible on the Be Counted website

If you have any questions, please email Becounted@dal.ca or call 494-6672.

Measuring ourselves is critical to improving. I sincerely hope you will take the time to complete the Dal census, and thank you for helping us build a stronger and more inclusive university. 


Rhodes Scholar Class of 2017

November 21, 2016:

It is with great enthusiasm and pride that I share the news that Dalhousie student Maike van Niekerk has been selected as one of Canada’s Rhodes Scholars for 2017, making her the 90th Rhodes Scholar in Dalhousie’s history.

Originally from Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Maike is set to graduate in May with her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. Her academic record is outstanding, but what truly sets Maike apart is her commitment to helping others. She founded a charity (Katrin’s Karepackage) that has raised more than $100,000 to help cancer patients cover travel costs for treatment. Her volunteer efforts have been honoured with many university and community awards, and her CV is full of examples where she has gone above and beyond to support others.

At Oxford, Maike hopes to study Psychiatry, acquiring skills that will allow her to continue her work supporting marginalized populations and building healthier communities. You can learn more about Maike’s accomplishments on Dal News.

A Rhodes Scholarship is one of the most prestigious in the world. Each year, eleven outstanding students from across Canada are chosen to study at the University of Oxford, joining a class of 95 Scholars globally. Valued in excess of $100,000, a Rhodes Scholarship provides expenses for travel and study at Oxford University for two years, with an option for a third. Its recipients must demonstrate character, commitment to others and the potential to become a world leader.

Maike’s accomplishments are a source of pride for the entire Dalhousie community. Please join me in congratulating Maike, and thanking the staff and faculty colleagues who supported her throughout the application process.

Killam Prize recipient and Dal Professor Emeritus to give public lecture November 22

November 16, 2016

Dr. Axel D. Becke, Dalhousie Professor Emeritus and Canada Council Killam Prize Winner in Natural Sciences 2016, will be on campus on Tuesday, November 22 for a public lecture: Quantum Theory of Electrons in Matter: Notes, Chords, and Symphonies.

Dr. Becke will discuss his lifelong career in science and use musical analogies to explain the fundamentals of quantum theory.

This is a wonderful opportunity to hear from one of the most accomplished scientific researchers in Canada. Dr. Becke’s award winning contributions in chemistry have made waves in computational science all over the world. 

The lecture will be held in Ondaatje Hall of the Marion McCain Arts & Social Sciences Building. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. and the lecture will begin at 7:30 p.m., with a reception to follow. For those unable to join us in-person, the lecture will be streamed online at dal.ca/killamlecture.


Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard appointed to the Senate of Canada

October 27, 2016:

I am very pleased to share the exciting news that our own Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard, Professor in the School of Social Work and Dalhousie’s Special Advisor, Diversity and Inclusiveness, has been appointed to the Senate of Canada by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Dr. Bernard is the first African Canadian to hold a tenure-track position at our university and to be promoted to full Professor. A Dal alumnus (MSW’77), she is a founding member of the Association of Black Social Workers and is currently chair of the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women. 

Dr. Bernard has been with the Dalhousie School of Social Work since 1990, serving as its Director from 2001-2011, and teaches in the areas of anti-oppression, cultural diversity and research. Her research with Black men and the violence of racism — particularly in the criminal justice system — has had a significant impact not only in academia but in agency and community-based practice. Among her many awards and honours are the Nova Scotia Human Rights Award, the Order of Nova Scotia and the Order of Canada.

It has been a privilege to work with Dr. Bernard and to learn from her incredible expertise and experience in our efforts to better support diversity and inclusiveness at our university. I have no doubt she will be as passionate and dedicated a voice in our country’s upper house as she has been at Dalhousie. Her appointment is an inspired choice for our university, our province and our country. (Read more about Dr. Bernard's appointment on Dal News.)

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Bernard and wishing her well as Senator. Congratulations, as well, to her fellow appointee Dan Christmas. Dr. Christmas, senior adviser for the Mi'kmaw First Nation of Membertou and Dalhousie honorary degree recipient (2005), is a similarly inspired appointment to the Senate. 

Dalhousie & United Way - Investing in our community

October 5, 2016: 

For more than 90 years, Dalhousie employees have shown their commitment to the communities where we live and work by supporting the United Way.

This year’s United Way campaign kicks off on all four Dal campuses on October 11 — just after Thanksgiving, when many have spent time with family and friends reflecting on all we have, and how we can give back. The money raised through employee donations and fundraising events supports hundreds of important programs and resources in our communities. These programs change lives and build hope.

Watch for the United Way launch video on October 11th, which features many familiar faces, and help spread the word by sharing it with colleagues and friends. To stay informed about this year’s campaign and how to make a donation, visit the Dalhousie United Way web page. The team also has a new blog this year that will feature regular updates and profiles of the many people who help make Dal’s United Way campaign a reality.

If you have any questions about this year’s campaign, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Steering Committee, or, the Employee Campaign Coordinator nearest you.

I hope you will join me in supporting the United Way and making this year’s campaign the most successful yet.

P.S. I’d also like to invite you to join me for the President's Fun Run/Walk on Saturday, October 15. I’ll be there in support of the United Way, and I hope you will be, too.