2018 Archives


December 31, 2018

As both 2018 and my presidency draw to a close I want to share this message of reflection and thanks. It truly has been an honour and a privilege to serve as the 11th President of Dalhousie University.

In recent weeks I’ve been asked to recall my most memorable moment at Dal, and each time the same image comes to mind: shaking hands to congratulate every student as I present them with their hard-earned degree after they cross the stage at Convocation. Sometimes they are there surrounded by their family and friends, and other times they are entirely alone, but I am always struck by the joy and pride in their eyes. 

The moment lasts less than thirty seconds yet reflects years of hard work, study and investment by the student and their family. I’ve experienced it thousands of times, and it is always electric. That moment is a testament to the power of higher education to transform lives, and to the continuing importance of Dalhousie’s mission.

I hope you share my pride in what we have achieved together in strengthening that mission over the past five and a half years. Enrolment, research income and fundraising are at all-time highs. We strengthened academic programs and infrastructure across all four of our campuses. We built bold new partnerships like IDEA, the Ocean Frontier Institute and Ocean Supercluster that attracted hundreds of millions of dollars to support teaching, research, innovation and entrepreneurship at Dalhousie and across Atlantic Canada. And we made significant, measurable gains in diversity and inclusiveness, towards a Dalhousie where all truly belong.

Together we showed that we could do well while also doing good. We strengthened our university while also making advances vital to our region and the world.  These truly were collective achievements, made possible by all of us working together. As I am so fond of saying: nobody does anything alone. I would therefore like to share my sincere thanks to all of our students, faculty, staff, retirees, alumni, members of the Board and Senate, donors and supporters. Look at what we have achieved together. Thank you Dalhousians, for these collective accomplishments.

Like our proud graduands crossing that Convocation stage, we should be confident in our continued success but not take it for granted. We must continue to think big, fulfilling our responsibility and potential as the leading research university in Atlantic Canada. We must always strive to bring people together in new ways, with kindness, respect and shared purpose.  We must live up to our special responsibility to the people of Mi’kma’ki, and to the African Nova Scotian community.  And we must always be guided by our mission and values, both in seizing opportunities and in rising to our challenges.  

As I offered in my Bicentennial Address earlier this year, Dalhousie must continue to strive to be intelligent, inclusive and inspiring. To be a place that develops ideas, knowledge and talent to build a better world. Where we reconcile our past and draw on the diverse strengths of all people. Where creativity, courage and compassion are inspired. Where the best of our region connects with the best in the world, for the benefit of all.

In a world of complex challenges and opportunities, the mission of Dalhousie University is more important than ever. I have the utmost confidence that our extraordinary leadership team, faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors and partners will work tirelessly to propel us forward and ensure our continued momentum. With your exceptional talent and commitment, the best is yet to come. 

With sincere thanks and best wishes,


Annual Dalhousie Carol Sing: Thursday, Dec. 20th

December 6, 2018

As our 200th year winds to a close, and the start of our third century approaches, the upcoming holiday season offers an opportunity for reflection and celebration. I invite you to join me at this year’s Annual Dalhousie Carol Sing on Thursday, December 20th from 12-1:30 p.m.

Jacqueline Warwick, Director, Fountain School of Performing Arts, and I will lead spirited renditions of classic carols, Hanukkah songs and other holiday favourites. 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 door prizes and the United Way 50/50 draw.

I hope you can take a few moments out of your day to join me for my final Dalhousie Carol Sing. I look forward to seeing you there.

Happy holidays!


Public discussion and engagement session with Scholarly Panel to Examine Lord Dalhousie's History on Slavery and Race

December 3, 2018

Senate Chair Kevin Hewitt and I invite and encourage all members of the university community to attend a public discussion and engagement session with members of the Lord Dalhousie panel.  

Monday, December 10 | 7p.m.
Marion McCain Building, Scotiabank Auditorium

Dr. Afua Cooper, chair of the Lord Dal panel, will share preliminary findings and draft recommendations for discussion and input. This initial public consultation is to review the panel’s findings and gather feedback from the community.   

Guided by scholarly inquiry and dialogue with the community, it is our hope that the panel’s work will both shed light on our history and help us respond to this legacy in order to build a stronger, more inclusive university that fully reflects our history, values and aspirations.

To learn more about the Scholarly Panel to Examine Lord Dalhousie’s History on Slavery and Race, view the Terms of Reference here and visit Dal News.  

I hope you will join us for this important conversation. 



Dalhousie Census - Be counted!

November 19, 2018

Today we are kicking off our fourth annual Dalhousie Census. The census provides us with vital information about our community, which helps improve the university’s programs, supports and services related to diversity and inclusiveness.

The “Be Counted” campaign will run from November 19-30, encouraging all Dalhousie faculty, staff and students to complete the census. Watch the census video to learn more.

You can complete the census by visiting dal.ca/BeCounted and following the steps to fill out the Faculty/Staff Census or the Student Census. (If your primary affiliation is as a student, choose the Student Census.)  

Your information will be confidential. The census data is not shared with your manager/supervisor and it is not attached to your employee or student record. If you completed the census since 2015, and you have no changes to your self-identification, you do not need to complete it again.

The data collected from this year’s census will be compiled in early 2019 and will be made available as part of the Employment Equity Annual Report on the Be Counted website.  

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

Thank you in advance for taking the time to complete the Dalhousie Census, helping us build a better Dalhousie. Be counted! 



Welcome reception for Dr. Teresa C. Balser, Provost and Vice-President Academic

November 8, 2018

On November 1, Dr. Teresa C. Balser began her role as Dalhousie University’s new Provost and Vice-President Academic. It is my pleasure to invite you to a reception welcoming her to our community:

November 20, 2018
4:00-6:00 p.m.
Steele Ocean Sciences Building Atrium
1355 Oxford Street

Dr. Balser was most recently Dean of Teaching and Learning and a John Curtin Distinguished Professor in the Faculty of Science and Engineering at Curtin University in Perth, Australia. She has more than a decade of experience in senior leadership roles at the faculty, university and U.S. national levels.

Dr. Balser achieved her PhD in soil microbiology from the University of California, Berkeley. Her awards and honours include a Fulbright-Nehru Distinguished Chair, the USDA National Excellence in College and University Teaching Award and being named U.S. Professor of the Year for Doctoral and Research Universities from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Please join me on November 20 to welcome Dr. Balser, learn about her vision for Dalhousie and have the opportunity to ask us questions.

I hope to see you there. 



Invitation to IDEA Project Grand Opening Event

October 3, 2018

All members of the Dalhousie University community are invited to attend the grand opening of the IDEA Project on Wednesday, October 10th, a historic transformation of our Sexton Campus in the heart of Halifax’s emerging innovation district. 

In two short years, almost half of our Sexton Campus has been either renewed or expanded. New construction includes the Emera IDEA Building and the Design Building, made possible through partnership with donors, industry, students and the Government of Canada. These critical updates to teaching and learning spaces will inspire the next generation of students and researchers to make a lasting impact on our region and our world.

This $64-million investment supports Dalhousie’s threefold mission of teaching, research and service and sets a new standard for engineering, architecture and planning education. 

Program starts at 10 a.m. / Tours of renewed campus to follow
Design Building, 5257 Morris Street

Please be advised that this event will begin with a traditional Indigenous prayer and smudging, which involves the ceremonial burning of sacred medicines.  

For those unable to attend in-person, please consider joining us online at https://www.dal.ca/livestream.html.  



Mi'kmaq History Month

October 1, 2018

Today is Treaty Day, which recognizes the anniversary of the 1752 Peace and Friendship Treaty. Treaty Day also marks the beginning of Mi’kmaq History Month, promoting public awareness of Mi’kmaw culture and heritage for all Nova Scotians.

On Thursday, October 11, two events will be held on our Studley Campus:

At 9:30 a.m., the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Legacy Space will be officially launched at Dalhousie’s Killam Memorial Library. Legacy Spaces are dedicated to providing accurate information regarding Indigenous history and our journey of reconciliation. All members of our community are welcome and encouraged to attend the opening of this special space. 

Following the launch, the ninth annual Mawio’mi will be hosted on Studley Quad (or in the case of rain, the McInnes Room in the Student Union Building) beginning at 11:00 a.m. I hope that you will join this great celebration of culture, diversity and heritage, which includes a feast as well as Indigenous drummers and dancers.

In Dalhousie’s 200th year, in which we are celebrating our “Year of Belonging,” it is particularly important to recognize and celebrate the legacy of the land on which our university sits, and our relationship with and responsibilities to the Mi’kmaq. Earlier this year, Dalhousie’s Board of Governors approved an Indigenous acknowledgement statement that reads:

Dalhousie University is located in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq. 
We are all Treaty people.

These words reflect both our past and our future, as we work to incorporate Indigenous education, research and support into the life of our institution. Consistent with these commitments, Dalhousie has adopted the Universities Canada Principles on Indigenous Education (endorsed by both Board and Senate); launched our Indigenous Studies minor and its associated Elders in Residence program; enhanced supports at the Indigenous Student Centre, including the hiring of a new full-time advisor; permanently raised the Mi’kmaq flag in Halifax and Truro; and significantly increased the hiring of Indigenous staff and faculty (nearing full labour-market representation of Indigenous employees). 

Let’s continue this important work in the months and years to come. We are all Treaty people.



Pink Day at Dalhousie: Fostering Inclusion, Together

September 25, 2018

Later today, faculty, staff and students will once again come together to promote a respectful campus community as we celebrate our ninth Pink Day at Dalhousie.

While Pink Day originated from a situation of bullying in a Nova Scotia high school, Dal has broadened the focus of our Pink Day to be about promoting respect and inclusiveness for all of us who are connected to this place of working, living and learning. Having made “Respect” a pillar of my time here as President, I urge each of us that help shape the university to reflect on how we can enrich the experience of being here.

On this Pink Day, I encourage you to contribute to our shared experience by performing acts of kindness.  Gestures small and large make an impact.  Share your thoughts and actions online with hashtag #DalBeKind.

I hope you can attend one of the Pink Day events happening across our campuses today:

  • Agricultural Campus: Cupcakes and apples, Student Commons, MacRae Library, 10-11 a.m.
  • Carleton Campus: Cupcakes and apples, Tupper Link, 10-11 a.m. 
  • Sexton Campus: Cupcakes and apples, Alumni Lounge, 10-11 a.m. 
  • Studley Campus: Barbecue, Lower Studley Quad, 12-1 p.m. (rain location: Studley Gym)

Let’s continue the important work of creating a respectful environment we can all be proud of.



Invitation to Homecoming 2018 & President’s 5th Annual Fun Run/Walk

September 24, 2018

Dalhousie’s Homecoming Weekend (September 27-30) is quickly approaching and as the first Homecoming of our third century, this year’s celebration is not to be missed.

Friday, September 28 – Ignite: Dal’s Third Century will be an evening of inspiration and discovery – bringing together change-makers and influencers passionate about new knowledge and ideas. Through immersive storytelling with three of our leading researchers, we’ll explore extraordinary perspectives on some of the greatest challenges facing humanity – food security, debilitating diseases and sustainable energy. For more information, please visit alumni.dal.ca/Ignite.

Saturday, September 29 - I invite you to lace up your sneakers, put on your black and gold and join me for the 5th annual President’s Fun Run/Walk – a three-campus walk, run, jog or stroll through Halifax.

There will be prizes, a post-run brunch, customized bibs, music and Dal 200th water bottles for the first 500 registrants.

REGISTER HERE by September 26th and participate in the run/walk to have your name entered into a draw to win a customized pair of Dalhousie sneakers!

Following the run on Saturday there will be a concert on the quad presented by the DSU, our annual Homecoming football game, a cruise on Tall Ship Silva and more. View the full roster of events on our Homecoming Website.  

I hope to see you at one or more of these events over Homecoming Weekend.



Provost and Presidential Transition Update

September 20, 2018

It has been a great start to a new academic year at Dalhousie, as we welcome a record number of students to campus and look towards the conclusion of our 200th anniversary year. I sincerely hope you are all enjoying a terrific start to the fall, and are feeling the renewed energy and spirit that our students always bring to campus at this time of year.

As the semester begins, I wanted to provide you with an update on the University’s transition plans for our new Provost and Vice-President (Academic), and a new President.

Provost Transition: Welcoming Dr. Teri Balser

On July 30, I was very pleased to inform you that Dr. Teri Balser has been appointed as Dalhousie’s newest Provost and Vice President (Academic). Dr. Balser is a highly experienced and inspiring academic leader, and you can read more about her background here

Teri has visited campus several times in recent months and will officially take office on Thursday, November 1. In preparation for her appointment, Acting Provost Dr. Chris Moore has done an outstanding job stepping into the role and overseeing the preparation of briefing materials to ensure Teri can hit the ground running. 

A priority of Dr. Balser’s transition is learning about our community and the issues and opportunities at Dalhousie University. She is committed to a listening plan in her first months here, which she and I have discussed, and which will involve engaging a broad range of faculty, staff and students. You should expect to hear more from her in November. On November 20, I will host a campus-wide reception to officially welcome Teri and give you all a chance to meet her in person. 

I am genuinely excited for you to meet Teri, and am certain that you will accomplish great things together in the years ahead. In the meantime, if you have any questions or suggestions on her orientation, please direct them to the Provost’s Acting Chief of Staff Jacquelyn Langille (jacquelyn.langille@dal.ca) who is coordinating the overall transition planning for our new Provost.

Presidential transition update

It has always been an honour and privilege to serve as Dalhousie’s 11th President. While I am excited about my return to physics, the decision is also bittersweet given my great Dalhousie colleagues and all that we have achieved together. In my final months I am continuing to focus on advancing our collective priorities, and that includes working with the Board of Governors and others to ensure a very successful transition to my successor. 

On September 5 you received a memo from Board Chair Larry Stordy that provided an update on the presidential search process. The presidential search committee has been identified, in accordance with the Senior Administrative Appointments Policy, and has held its first meeting. As the process continues, the search committee will share updates and consult with the Dalhousie community, and I encourage you to regularly visit the presidential search page here for further information.

To further support and plan the transition, the Board has also convened a presidential transition steering committee, chaired by Board Vice-Chair Candace Thomas. We have seconded Assistant Vice Provost of Planning and Strategy Leanne French Munn as Transition Project Manager to support and coordinate the work of this committee. Their overall goal is to ensure a successful presidential transition and orientation, and if you have any suggestions or input you would like to share, please contact Leanne at Leanne.french.munn@dal.ca

Finally, I hope you join me in looking forward to an exciting fall that includes the conclusion of our Coast to Coast alumni tour, our IGNITE gala focused on our third century, Fall Convocation, hosting the Royal Society of Canada’s annual Celebration of Excellence and Engagement, and the completion of the IDEA Project on our Sexton campus.

We have much to celebrate as we conclude our 200th Anniversary. Thank you all for your continued work and dedication to our great university.  With your outstanding contributions and support for our great new Provost and President, the best is yet to come.



On Track Microbursary Launch

March 23, 2018

Faculty and staff,

I’m excited to announce the launch of Dalhousie’s new On Track microbursary crowdfunding campaign.

This initiative will provide quick access to small emergency bursaries up to $500 for students when they need it most. We know that financial struggles are one of the most common reasons students fail to complete their degrees, and we want to help address this.

Currently, the On Track initiative seeks to improve student retention rates through coaching and study support. Now, with the addition of microbursaries, On Track will make an impact on student finances.

My wife Mona and I are pleased to announce that we will personally match every gift made to this project up to $50,000. Our goal is to raise $100,000 for upwards of 200 bursaries for the 2018-2019 academic year.  

We want students to have somewhere to turn when they need urgent support. Personally, from our own time as students, we remember the impact even small financial gifts had on our studies.

Student success, student retention and equity of access are core values at Dalhousie. The On Track microbursaries will help students who experience an unexpected financial crisis stay on the road to academic success.

Please join in supporting this campaign. To learn more and make your own gift, please visit projectdal.ca.