Promise and progress: Dal leadership team hosts annual update

- June 29, 2022

President Deep Saini (left) speaks to attendees in the room along with those online at the Annual Progress Report event. (Nick Pearce photos)
President Deep Saini (left) speaks to attendees in the room along with those online at the Annual Progress Report event. (Nick Pearce photos)

Last Thursday morning (June 23), members of the Dal community gathered to hear from President Deep Saini and other members of the senior leadership team about Dal’s progress towards the goals of its strategic plan, Third Century Promise.

And the significance of gathering together on campus for the event was not lost on anyone.  

“It is first time in three years — and the first time since my arrival at Dalhousie in 2020 — that we’ve been able to hold this event in-person,” said President Saini, to applause from the many attendees gathered in Ondaatje Hall.

President Deep Saini

“We have been able to complete two full academic years under COVID’s shadow and, may I say, weight — which is a true testament to the dedication, commitment and creativity of our faculty, our staff and our students. And what we have learned through this experience about ourselves and about one another will be vital in shaping our path forward.”

Plans and priorities

The event, which was livestreamed online for those not on campus, featured Dr. Saini and other members of the president’s executive team offering an overview of how Dalhousie is moving forward on the priorities of Third Century Promise, its strategic plan launched last June.

Watch: Annual Progress Update event - archived livestream

“It’s about accelerating Dalhousie’s ascent to a much higher level of achievement, inclusion, service, and excellence on the global stage,” said President Saini, describing a planning framework that is, “integrated sustainable, collaborative, aligned and anticipates changes we might need as we move forward.”

The plan is built around five pillars: Exceptional Student Experience, Inclusive Excellence, High-Impact Research, A Civic University with Global Impact, and A Foundation for Inclusion and Distinction. At the event, members of Dal’s senior leadership team provided snapshots of what’s been accomplished under each pillar this past year, what’s underway and what’s to come.

For example, Provost Frank Harvey discussed how Dal is growing scholarship and bursary support for students and actively promoting and engaging in the National Standard for Mental Health and Well-being for Post-Secondary Students. He also highlighted Dal’s efforts to close employment equity gaps, with 72% of faculty searches and 58% of staff searches last year resulting in hiring an equity-deserving candidate.

Clockwise from upper right: Provost Frank Harvey, Assistant Vice-President Research Services Marlies Rise, Vice-President Finance and Administration Gitta Kulczycki and Vice-President Government and Global Relations Matt Hebb.

Vice-President Government and Global Relations Matt Hebb shared insight into Dal’s approach to strengthening its global partnerships and developing an impact charter to document Dal’s commitments as a civic university. Among other topics, Vice-President Finance and Administration Gitta Kulczycki discussed the considerable investment underway in Dal’s physical campuses, including $111 million in major projects and nearly $24 million in classroom and campus space renewal.

And Assistant Vice-President Research Services Marlies Rise — speaking on behalf of Vice-President Research & Innovation Alice Aiken, who was unavailable to attend the event — shared news that, for the first time, Dalhousie’s total research funding surpassed $200 million last year.

“To put that in context, a 10.4 per cent research funding increase since last year brought us to $214 million, and research funding increased by 37% in the last five years,” said Dr. Rise, numbers which include both Dalhousie and partners in Nova Scotia Health and the IWK Health Centre. “I think that’s a true testament to the energy, creativity and talent of our wonderful researchers here at Dalhousie.”

A promising future

The morning’s presentations also featured short videos highlighting a prominent initiative under each of the five pillars. The videos profiled the new “Truro Start” program expanding academic programming on Dal’s Truro campus; the university’s new Accessibility Plan; the Transforming Climate Action research proposal; the Here We Code collaboration with Nova Scotia’s technology sector; and Dal’s Digital Strategy.

Afterwards, attendees in-person and online had the opportunity to ask questions of the leadership team. Topics discussed included efforts to improve the student experience after two tumultuous pandemic years; improving supports for faculty and staff with disabilities; and insights on some of the problems or challenges Dalhousie faces.

‘The only way to achieve great things is by doing them together,” said Dr. Saini, encouraging members of the Dal community to focus on opportunities and, while working through challenges, do their best to avoid being weighed down by them.

Third Century Promise is a shared plan, and it is an ambitious plan, but look at what we have been through together these past two years. Look at what our graduates — graduates who walked across the Convocation stage earlier this month — have gone through, and how all of you worked so, so hard to get them there.

“You did all of this together and, in exactly the same way, I am certain we will also meet our Third Century Promise together.”


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