A day for firsts

President Kim Brooks and Chancellor Rustum Southwell installed this week at Convocation

- October 4, 2023

Newly installed President Kim Brooks helps Chancellor Rustum Southwell don his ceremonial robes immediately following his own installation at fall convocation. (Nick Pearce photos)
Newly installed President Kim Brooks helps Chancellor Rustum Southwell don his ceremonial robes immediately following his own installation at fall convocation. (Nick Pearce photos)

A new academic year always brings change on campus. This year is no exception as Dalhousie welcomes a change in leadership.

While Dr. Kim Brooks and Dr. Rustum Southwell began their new Dalhousie roles earlier this year, this week they were officially installed as president and chancellor, respectively.

The ceremony, which took place during the first fall convocation on Tuesday morning (October 3), served as a formal welcoming of each leader into their respective roles. That it took place at the same time as Dal’s newest class of graduates celebrating their big milestone made it a day of introductions and conclusions, beginnings and endings.

The day’s proceedings opened with Provost Frank Harvey and Elder Ann (Annjij) LaBillois who delivered a traditional Mi'kma'ki welcome. Where some would expect to be asked to look around and take in the accomplishments around the room, graduates and guests were asked to close their eyes, embrace the energy and breathe.

What followed, in place of silence and shuffles of feet across the stage, were shared moments of togetherness and laughter throughout the ceremony.

Cheryl Fraser, chair of Dalhousie’s Board of Governors, invested Drs. Brooks and Southwell with their new responsibilities.

Dr. Brooks, the 13th president in Dal’s 200-year history, took her pledge first: “I, Kim Brooks, pledge myself to perform the duties of the president and vice-chancellor of Dalhousie University as prescribed by law and the statues of the university; and I promise to defend the rights, and to promote the welfare of the university and the members thereof.”

In lieu of a traditional installation speech, Dr. Brooks chose to hand the Convocation stage over to Sherry Pictou, faculty member from Management and Law, who spoke to graduates about the Indigenous concept of seven generations of impact. Dr. Brooks plans to share remarks of her own — ones that build on ideas from other convocation speakers — at an event scheduled for this Friday.

Dr. Southwell, Dalhousie’s ninth chancellor, followed his pledge with a moving speech and powerful statement: “After a lifetime this long, we do so many things. However, for the very first time, I believe, I am the first of anything in my life of such consequence – the first Black chancellor of Dalhousie University.” Watch the recording (1:10:54).

Many students who crossed the stage are celebrating their first degree. For some, it's about celebrating their first venture into the post-academic world. Dalhousie now celebrates a few firsts of its own — installing its first female president and its first Black chancellor — knowing that it, too, is the sign of a new era of possibilities and opportunities.

Left to right: Provost and Vice-President Academic Frank Harvey, President Kim Brooks, Chancellor Rustum Southwell, Board Chair Cheryl Fraser.

Faculty, staff and students in Halifax are invited to join President Brooks for coffee in the University Hall in the Macdonald Building between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. on Friday, October 6 where she’ll share her installation remarks. On the Agricultural Campus, faculty, staff and students are invited to coffee with the Dean at the same time in the Landscape Architecture Gallery in the Extension Engineering Building. Learn more.


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