Board Highlights: October 16, 2018

- October 31, 2018

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.

Research & Innovation Strategic Direction

Although there were no items for decision in the public portion of October’s Board of Governors meeting, there were several presentations for the Board’s information. The first of these was from Alice Aiken, vice-president research and innovation, on the university’s new Research Strategic Direction.

Impact Together: Dalhousie’s Research and Innovation Strategic Direction, 2018-23, was developed over the past 8-10 months in collaboration with researchers across the university: in total, more than 400 faculty members, students, staff and external partners were engaged in its development, from impact sessions and summits to surveys, submissions and consultations. The plan is meant to serve as a guide for the allocation of Dal’s research and innovation resources in the years ahead and ensure that the university’s research activities have an even stronger influence on the local, regional and global landscape.   

“It’s about the researchers,” said Dr. Aiken. “That’s who we’re here to support.”

Subtitled “Local Advantage. Regional Leadership. Global Impact,” the strategic direction identifies Dal’s research vision, mission and values as well as five signature research “clusters” aligned with both the university’s research strengths  and the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. The five clusters are:

  • Sustainable Ocean
  • Healthy People, Healthy Communities, Healthy Populations
  • Clean Tech, Energy, the Environment
  • Culture, Society, Community Development
  • Food Security

These clusters are also informed by two cross-cutting themes: Big Data and Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

The full Impact Together document can be reviewed at

University Sustainability Programs and Progress/Climate Change Plan

The second presentation was from Rochelle Owen, executive director of the Dalhousie Office of Sustainability, on the university’s ongoing sustainability programs.

The Office of Sustainability, which reports to the Vice-President Finance and Administration, works collaboratively across the university on Dal-wide sustainability initiatives, including in policy and planning, building and retrofit projects, and operations. The office works with over 100 students each year on projects through independent research, classwork and volunteer opportunities.

Owen noted that earlier this year Dalhousie received, for the second time, a Gold rating from AASHE STARS — the preeminent international sustainability rating system for universities and colleges, which considers not just operations but academic programs and research. Since 2009, over $93 million has been invested in sustainability projects between Dal and its partners.

Owen shared highlights from the Sustainability Progress Report for Campus Operations (2014-17), noting targets achieved in greenhouse gas reduction (20%), diversion of waste (65%) and increasing renewable energy supply (5%). She also discussed future directions for the office’s work, including strategies to meet a 50% reduction in carbon emissions, a reduction in water use, improvements in food and procurement and broadening engagement across the university.

For more on the Office of Sustainability, visit its website.

Fundraising Report and Advancement Growth Strategy

The final presentation of the meeting was from Peter Fardy, vice-president advancement, on the university’s fundraising efforts.

In Fiscal 2018, Dalhousie attracted $42.5M in new commitments. Fardy positioned this success in light of the broader historical trends, noting how Dalhousie’s fundraising has seen sustained growth in the years following the Bold Ambitions capital campaign of 2007-2013.

Fardy explained that Advancement’s mandate is to attract resources to support Dalhousie’s mission — and that the alignment between the dollars raised and Dal’s mission is critical to their work. Over the past 10 years (2009-2018), Dalhousie has raised $376 million, of which 30% ($113.4M) went to student support, 27% ($101.5M) went to academic programming, 20% ($75.2M) went to research and 15% ($57.7M) went to infrastructure. Fardy noted that Advancement has brought in $7 for every dollar spent over that timeframe.

Though one might suspect that many gifts the university receives are from alumni or corporations, nearly a third (31%) come from non-alumni individuals. “They’re not giving to Dal, but through Dal,” said Fardy, stressing the importance of connecting donors with opportunities at Dal for their dollars to make a difference on causes they care about.

Fardy concluded his presentation saying that all evidence suggests there is opportunity for Dalhousie’s fundraising efforts to grow in the future.

Other business

  • Board Chair Larry Stordy offered a brief report, saluting some of the activities of the fall including the Ignite dinner and the opening of the IDEA Project.
  • President Richard Florizone spoke to his efforts to ensure Dal’s momentum continues through the fall and towards his departure from the university at year’s end.
  • DSU President Aaron Prosper provided the Board with an overview of the union, its executive and its operations.

Approved minutes for Dalhousie Board of Governors meetings are published on DalSpace. Learn more about the Board at its website.


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