In others' words: Colleagues, old and new, on Dal President Deep Saini

- January 15, 2020

New President Deep Saini. (Nick Pearce photo)
New President Deep Saini. (Nick Pearce photo)

Dalhousie President Deep Saini has built a reputation as a respected post-secondary leader, educational visionary and distinguished scientist through a career that includes stints at four of Canada's U15 universities and as vice-chancellor and president of the University of Canberra in Australia.

With Dal's new strategic plan nearing completion, and a strong leadership team across the university, Dalhousie enters its third century under Dr. Saini's leadership with tremendous momentum.

We asked a few of his past colleagues and peers and a few new ones to shed some light on Dalhousie's 12th president.

Teri Balser, Provost and Vice-President, Academic

“We live in an increasingly uncertain world, where empathetic and human-centred leadership is critical. Dr. Saini is such a leader. He is compassionate, humane, and fully present in all he does. We are truly fortunate to have him joining us as we take the next steps in our collective journey.”

Candace Thomas, Chair of Dalhousie's Board of Governors

“At the end of the interview process, every member of the diverse group representing the Board of Governors, Senate, students, faculty and senior administration that comprised the search committee had made the same choice — Dr. Deep Saini would be Dalhousie’s next leader, as its 12th President. Deep appreciates the university’s 200-year-old history, understands Dalhousie’s significance in this region, cares about teaching, learning, research and people; and believes Dalhousie is well positioned to attain goals that will have a global impact, while maintaining local relevance in the communities it serves.  I am privileged to have the opportunity to work with Deep as his first board Chair.”

Ivan Joseph, Vice-Provost, Student Affairs

"The chance to work with an experienced leader like President Saini who brings grace, humility and a rich depth of experience to the role of president at Dalhousie is such a great opportunity for our community. I look forward to welcoming him to our campus and being a part of his team. I have always admired a leader who makes you feel comfortable right away.  Deep walks into every conversation centered on the needs of the individual and group — I couldn’t help but feel like I mattered."

"I couldn’t be prouder to welcome President Saini to our Dalhousie community. To have the leadership of Dal reflect the diversity of all things great about Canada makes me proud to be a part of this great community."  

Eric Wells, general counsel and university secretary, University of Canberra

"Everyone who comes to know Deep is impressed by his ability to communicate his vision in a thoughtful, engaging and always considered manner. As a person, Deep has great empathy for those working with him and one of his greatest skills is in building a high functioning team to support the implementation of his vision.  Deep’s leadership style is inclusive and respectful of diversity of opinion and views."

David Naylor, former University of Toronto president

"Deep Saini has already excelled in one university presidency on the other side of the world, and before that had a stellar academic and administrative career bridging four institutions, three provinces and the two official languages here in Canada. Professor Saini’s inspiring life story reflects his first-class mind, wide-ranging intellectual curiosity, industriousness, determination, and, not least, adaptability and resilience. His academic journey is also one that was enabled by public educational institutions on three continents. As a result, Dalhousie is getting a president who is at once a proven leader with remarkably varied experience, and a passionate champion of post-secondary education and advanced research."

"He was just an exceptional leader in many ways. Deep built great relations with students, faculty and staff alike, managed to grow enrolments while raising academic standards, supported innovative academic programs, worked effectively with the local community and civic government, fostered partnerships with industry and won over donors while safeguarding academic freedom, and was a great contributor at the University of Toronto cabinet table."

Amit Chakma, former provost at University of Waterloo and former president of Western University

"He is deeply committed to the intrinsic values of education and has broader understanding of contemporary issues facing higher education. He is a seasoned academic leader with experience in multiple institutions with varying mandates and institutional cultures."

Caroline Gouws, PhD student, University of Canberra

"Knowing Deep as the university council student representative, I’ve grown particularly fond of him due to his ability to be wholesome and friendly, an absolute family man to the core — but also firm and capable of making difficult high-levels decisions, for the best of everyone. This balance is quite challenging to achieve when, honestly, many people in a university setting don’t quite understand the ‘high-level’ business and strategy required for the position, who must also by nature genuinely care about the community."

More on Dal's new president


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