President's Corner is a regular column from President Deep Saini.
Dear Dal Community,
Last week, the provincial government announced that elementary and high school students would continue learning virtually for the remainder of the school year in response to the third wave of the pandemic in Nova Scotia.
While this may have come as a relief to some, it also adds further complication to the situations of faculty, staff and students who have their children home all day as they continue to teach, learn, work and study. Many in our community have had to pull their children out of daycare, rush to make alternate child-care arrangements, or balance watching small children with the competing demands of their workdays. Meetings with my own team have sometimes featured guest appearances from the young children of colleagues, and it has served as a powerful reminder that while we all continue to adjust to an evolving work environment, those providing care to others are maintaining notably complex juggling acts.
We know that nobody can do it all and that there will be times where work must come second. Please reach out to Accessible Employment in Human Resources if you need support.
May is also Caregiver Awareness Month in Nova Scotia, which acknowledges those providing care to a friend or family member, such as an aging parent, or a child or spouse with chronic health issues. May 19 has been designated as Caregiver Appreciation Day at Dalhousie. Last week, I had the opportunity to speak with Dalhousie’s Caregiver Support Group, which Human Resources has facilitated since 2012. I felt honoured to have the opportunity to thank these group members for their perseverance and ongoing dedication, even during such trying times.
The pandemic has blurred the lines between our work and home lives. It has often provided a window into our colleagues’ responsibilities outside the university. While I recognize we still have work to do at Dalhousie and as a society to make workplaces more family friendly and compassionate, I have also been heartened by the way our own culture at the university has adapted throughout the pandemic. I have seen more empathy, greater consciousness around boundaries, and increased recognition that regardless of whether we are students, staff or faculty members, we are human beings first, with our own unique personal challenges.
In this context, Thursday's announcement about the appointment of Dr. Frank Harvey – widely recognized as a caring and compassionate member of our Dalhousie family – as our next Provost and VP Academic is quite propitious. As we look ahead to Dr. Harvey’s leadership in helping to re-open our campuses and resume in-person learning, and as we once again anticipate the joy of seeing one another face-to-face rather than just screen-to-screen, I am confident that we will continue with the nuanced approaches in relating to one another that we learned during the pandemic. The past 14 months have required a perspective shift – one that we would be remiss to forget.