Board Highlights – November 26, 2019

- December 20, 2019

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.

Incoming Dal President Deep Saini introduction

Incoming Dalhousie President Deep Saini attended the meeting and introduced himself to the Board. He started his remarks by thanking members of the Board for giving him the opportunity and honour to serve Dal as its president.

Dr. Saini said he and his wife are looking very forward to returning to Canada, where they have spent much of their lives. They have been living in Australia since 2016, where Dr. Saini has been serving as vice-chancellor and president of the University of Canberra.

“I’m looking forward to getting to know this community and to becoming part of this community. And to helping advance this community through the engine of this community that is Dalhousie.”

International Student Support Rapid Task Force – Interim Report

Interim President Teri Balser presented an overview of a new working group being set up at Dalhousie that will provide ongoing oversight of programming and new projects aimed at supporting the university’s growing international student population. The working group arose out of a recommendation from the International Student Support Rapid Task Force (ISSRTF), a group struck earlier this year by the Provost’s Office to provide quick input on how the university can build further capacity to support international student success. The working group, to be led by the Office of the Vice-Provost Student Affairs, will oversee the rollout of a number of pilot projects recommended by the task force in its report submitted over the summer. The report followed an increase in international tuition fees in the 2019-2020 Operating Budget and was prepared to ensure the university is putting its resources to best use in supporting its growing international student population.

Annual Fundraising Report

Peter Fardy, vice-president of advancement at Dal, provided an overview of his office’s work and its total fundraising up to fiscal year-end (March 31, 2019). He also provided a snapshot of performance over the past 20 years or so. “For a dollar invested in the Advancement enterprise, somewhere between $5 and $7 in new commitments are made every term,” he said.

He also used his presentation to help clarify what he sees to be the mission of his office, which is to attract external resources to support Dalhousie’s mission. “What we do is not ask people to give to Dal. That’s not what we’re endeavouring to do. What we ask people to do is give through Dal,” he explained.

He said philanthropy is about building relationships with individuals, corporations, and foundations who care about societal issues, the human condition and who want to make a difference and have the capacity to make a difference through their good fortune and hard work but cannot on their own. “They recognize in the case of Dalhousie that we have some capacity, some expertise, we have the ability to help them make the kind of impact they’d like to make. And it happens to line up with the impact we’d like to make.”

Capital Projects and Facilities Committee items for decision

Robert Richardson, chair of the Capital Projects and Facilities Committee, presented three motions for approval from that committee. The first was a motion to adopt a revised Facilities Renewal Budget approval process. The motion, which was approved, covers everything from when the committee should be provided with a schedule identifying major areas of planned spending for the coming year and information on significant individual projects (more than $1 million) to the authorization of Facilities Management to spend and enter into contractual commitments totalling no more than $10 million prior to the following June to support the implementation of the approved Facilities Renewal projects.

The Board then passed a second motion approving the list of significant Facilities Renewal projects (greater than $250,000) for 2020-2021.

Finally, the Board passed a motion approving a new funding plan for the Ruminant Animal Centre Expansion Project on Dalhousie's Agricultural Campus, which will include a replacement for a feed barn destroyed in a fire in August 2015 as well as the construction of an adjoining Interpretive Centre.

Governance & Human Resources Committee items for decision

Sherry Porter, chair of the Governance & Human Resources Committee (GHRC), presented two motions, both approved at the meeting. One was to support proposed amendments to the GHRC Terms of Reference, including that the appointment of Board representatives to search committees constituted under the Senior Administrative Appointments Policy and Procedures for positions below the level of Vice-President be delegated to the committee. The other was for a proposed change in position title for the University Librarian to Dean of Libraries.

Chair’s Report

Board Chair Candace Thomas acknowledged VP Finance Ian Nason’s many contributions to the university over nearly 40 years of service to the university ahead of his coming retirement next summer. “You’re one of the longest-standing and most valued senior leaders in this institution and you’ve never ceased to amaze.You always have the answer whenever someone turns to you with a question,” she said. Thomas also recognized Janet MacMillan for her service in 2019 as interim AVP of Communications and Marketing. Thomas applauded Dal for its role as a sponsor of the Barack Obama speaking engagement this past fall and for being part of launching the Future Leaders program that helped send a number of youth to the event for free. She also congratulated Chancellor Anne MacLellan on her appointment as an advisor for PM Justin Trudeau. “Thank you for your continued commitment and dedication to Canada.”

President’s Report

In her final report to the Board as interim president, Teri Balser also thanked Nason for his years of service and MacMillan for her work with C&M. She spoke about phase three of the strategic planning process that is based around eight self-study teams. She said each team’s work will result in a set of thought papers with high-level recommendations for Dr. Saini to use as Dal enters into the final phase of strategic planning. Dr. Balser also touched on other highlights from across the university, including the success of a forum on embedding EDI (equity, diversity and inclusiveness) across the curriculum. She gave a shout out to all the Dal recipients at this year’s Discovery Awards for their outstanding accomplishments and to Dal faculty members Elaine Craig, Shauntay Grant and Matthew Herder on becoming members of the Royal Society of Canada.

Dal Student Union report

Aisha Abawajy, president of the Dalhousie Student Union, spoke about her executive team’s efforts to engage with fellow students in Halifax and on the Agricultural Campus in Truro. She highlighted some of the mental-health initiatives the DSU has been involved in, including a Movember benefit concert at The Grawood to raise money for men’s mental health and cancer research.


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