Dal announces former USask President Peter MacKinnon as incoming interim president and vice‑chancellor

- October 16, 2018

Peter MacKinnon. (University of Saskatchewan photo)
Peter MacKinnon. (University of Saskatchewan photo)

Dalhousie has announced the appointment of R. Peter MacKinnon, OC, QC, as interim president and vice-chancellor, effective January 15, 2019 and continuing through June 30, 2019.

Approved by Dalhousie’s Board of Governors at its meeting Tuesday afternoon (Oct. 16), the appointment brings Mr. MacKinnon and his deep experience in university leadership to Dalhousie as the university continues the search for Richard Florizone’s successor as President and Vice-Chancellor.

“We are grateful Peter has agreed to leave his home in Alberta to return to his alma mater as Interim President,” says Dal Board Chair Larry Stordy. “Having someone of his calibre, experience and reputation in the role will help ensure continued momentum as we begin the dawn of our third century of academic excellence.”

MacKinnon, past president and vice-chancellor of the University of Saskatchewan, is a Dalhousie alumnus (BA’69, History and Political Science) with Maritime roots, having grown up in Prince Edward Island. He served as a faculty member, dean of the College of Law and acting vice-president academic at the University of Saskatchewan before serving as president from 1999 until 2012. Under his leadership, the university rose to new heights in research and innovation, and underwent a significant restoration of campus and its facilities to better meet the needs of its students and researchers.

There, he also worked closely with current Dal President Richard Florizone, who was his vice-president finance and administration for much of that time — adding “a welcome layer of continuity to this transition,” according to Stordy.

“I am thrilled to return to Dalhousie and Halifax,” says MacKinnon. “It’s an exciting time for the university, as it celebrates 200 years of achievement and so many successes in recent years. I’m looking forward to joining an excellent team in advancing Dal’s strategic plan and continuing that success through to the appointment of a new president.”

Since leaving the University of Saskatchewan, MacKinnon became the inaugural Prime Ministers of Canada Fellow at the Public Policy Forum in Ottawa and served for two years as interim president of Athabasca University. He chaired the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences Expert Panel on team science and was commissioned by the Premier of Saskatchewan to review and report on sovereign wealth funds.

A past chair of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (now Universities Canada), Mr. MacKinnon has written or co-edited five books including sole authorship of two recent volumes on universities published by University of Toronto Press: University Leadership and Public Policy in the Twenty-First Century (2014) and University Commons Divided: Exploring Debate and Dissent on Campus (2018). His awards and honours include Officer of the Order of Canada, Queen's Counsel and several honorary degrees, including one from Dalhousie in 2012.

The search for Dalhousie’s 12th President and Vice-Chancellor is well underway, with the committee expecting to announce an appointment sometime in the new year. For more information, visit the Presidential Search website.


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