Following each meeting of Dalhousie’s Board of Governors, Dal News highlights some of the presentations and decisions made.
The Board of Governors is responsible for the overall conduct, management, administration and control of the property, revenue, business and affairs of the university. It represents the interests of the university, carrying out its responsibilities through a stewardship role (delegating day-to-day management to the president and senior administration). Its membership currently includes three ex officio members (the president, chancellor and chair of Senate), eleven Order-in-Council members and additional representatives appointed by alumni, students, faculty and the Board itself.
The Board has six standing committees: Academic & Student Affairs; Capital Projects and Facilities; Community Affairs; Finance, Audit, Investment and Risk; Governance and Human Resources; and the Board Executive. While these committees meet regularly through the year, the Board as a whole meets five times a year between September and June.
University operating budget approved
The Board voted to approve Dalhousie’s operating budget for 2017-18, as well as the 2016-17 operating budget report and audited financial statements.
The 2017-18 operating budget — discussed extensively through the Budget Advisory Committee process earlier this year — is balanced with revenues and expenditures set at $415.4 million. It includes $8.8 million in annual salary, benefit and pension contribution adjustments for faculty/staff; an $820,000 increase in student assistance (adding to Dal’s total of more than $65 million spent on student assistance annually); $1.1 million more for campus renewal and $600,000 for IT infrastructure.
With only a $1.9 million increase in Dal’s provincial operating grant (1%), the budget incorporates a 3% tuition increase (approved at April’s Board meeting) and a 1.8% budget reduction to Faculties and service units to balance the budget. This reduction was lowered from the earlier BAC reports — which recommended 1.9% — due to improved revenue and investment income forecasts. Also modified due to improved forecasts is the amount of strategic initaitive funding, which has increased by $400,000 — $250,000 specifically earmarked for mental health initiatives for students, improved supports for Indigenous and African Nova Scotian students and academic undergraduate program initiatives.
The 2017-18 operating budget is now available on the Financial Services website. The annual financial report for 2016-17 is expected to be posted next week.
Agricultural Campus capital projects
At April’s meeting, the Board approved funding for design work on two capital projects for the Agricultural Campus in Truro: a student learning commons in the MacRae Library, and a replacement for the Ruminant Animal Centre’s (RAC) feed barn, which was partially destroyed by a fire in August 2015. Both projects were brought back to the Board at its June meeting for “Board 2” approval — approval for the expenditures to complete the implementation of the projects.
In the case of the student learning commons, the project is budgeted at $3 million, all of which will be fundraised. (At this point, 75 per cent of that fundraising is complete). The space, which will occupy the library’s currently vacant top floor, was identified as a top priority in the Campus Master Plan due to a deficit of student-focused space for socializing or informal learning/networking/support. It is expected to be complete by Spring 2018.
The RAC project has two components: $1.8 million for the feed barn itself — of which most, if not all, is expected to be covered by insurance from the fire — and $1 million for a new donor-funded interpretative centre. Similar to the learning commons, construction is expected to be complete by next spring.
Matters from Senate
The Board signed off on several items recently reviewed and approved by the Dalhousie University Senate:
• The name change for the Faculty of Health Professions to the Faculty of Health
• A new Bachelor of Arts in Cinema and Media Studies (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences)
• A new Academic Syllabus Policy
• A revision to Dal’s Student Ratings of Instruction Policy and Procedures
In lieu of his standard report, Dal President Richard Florizone led the Board through a version of his Inspiration & Impact presentation from his year-in-review sessions earlier this month. You can read more about those sessions on Dal News.
Draft gift acceptance policy
The Board reviewed the draft gift acceptance policy for Dalhousie. The first of its kind at Dal, the policy aims to formalize practices around gift acceptance to ensure they meet the university's high ethical standards and commitment to institutional autonomy and academic freedom, as well as compliance with any applicable legislation or regulation.
After discussion, the Board decided to return the document to its Community Affairs committee so that some additional revisions could be considered and incorporated prior to Board approval.
As this was its final meeting of the 2016-17 academic year, the Board approved a number of new appointments and bid farewell to some current members.
- Lawrence Stordy (partner, Stewart McKelvey) was reappointed for a second two-year term as Board chair. He is set to remain as chair of the Board until June 30, 2019.
- Robert Hanf (executive vice-president stakeholder relations and regulatory affairs, Emera) was appointed vice-chair of the Board for a one-year term. He will continue as chair of the Board’s Academic & Student Affairs committee as well.
- Ian Klugman (president and CEO, Communitech) was appointed to the Board for a three-year term. He replaces Wadih Fares as one of the three Board-appointed positions on the Board of Governors.
- Two new appointments nominated by the Dalhousie Alumni Association (DAA) are joining the Board: Brian Johnston (Saint John-based thoracic surgeon and incoming DAA executive vice-president), appointed to a two-year term; and Brenda Hogan (senior investment manager, Ontario Capital Growth Corporation), appointed to a three-year term. Ian Bezanson (president, bits.co and incoming DAA president) was re-appointed for a two-year term. Departing the Board is outgoing DAA President Courtney Larkin.
- Michelle Awad (partner, McInnes Cooper) is departing the Board after completing three three-year terms as an Order in Council appointee. Beginning July 1, the Board will welcome Eleanor Bernard (executive director, Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey) for a three-year term. Bernard’s appointment was approved for recommendation to the Governor in Council at April’s Board meeting, alongside Candace Thomas’ reappointment for a three-year term.
The Board also approved chairs and memberships for each of its standing committees; updated its by-laws to align with current committee structures and officer positions; and pulled out procedures for appointments of Board chair, vice-chair and university chancellor into a separate procedures document. These updates will be added to the Board of Governors website in the near future.
Environmental Health and Safety Award
The Board saw the presentation of this year’s Environmental Health and Safety Award to the Facilities Management (FM) Rescue Team. A group of volunteers from various trades within the FM Operations Group, the team has undergone extensive training and runs weekly practice drills to be able to respond rescue situations. Look for more on the team in a forthcoming Dal News story.
Approved minutes for Dalhousie Board of Governors meetings are published on DalSpace. Learn more about the Board at its website.
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