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After a nine-month search, Dal's new president starts in eight months

Dr. Deep Saini will be coming from the University of Canberra to take command at Dalhousie.

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Let this be the first of many "Dal goes Deep" puns. - SUBMITTED
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  • Let this be the first of many "Dal goes Deep" puns.

Dalhousie University’s Board of Governors announced Thursday that Dr. Deep Saini has been elected as the university’s new president and vice-chancellor. He will be only the 12th president in the history of the 200-year-old school.

Saini is not the first Dalhousie president to be born outside of North America; he follows inaugural president Thomas McCulloch (Scotland) and Howard Clark (New Zealand). But having grown up in India, a generation removed from poverty, his path to Dalhousie is unique to past presidents.

Born in India, Saini earned a PhD in plant physiology from the University of Adelaide in Australia and is fluent in English, French and three South Asian languages. He is currently  president of the Australian University of Canberra—a young university of comparable size and international ranking to Dalhousie—where he led the development and implementation of a new strategic plan that positions the school as a national leader in professional education and experiential learning.

"I am honoured and humbled," Saini says in Dal's announcement. "The university’s students, faculty and staff are proudly devoted to the synergy between world-class education and a rich tradition of outstanding research and scholarship. I am thrilled at being given the chance to be part of writing the next chapter of this compelling story.”

Saini succeeds Dalhousie’s 11th president, Richard Florizone, who served from 2013 until 2018, and Peter MacKinnon, presently serving in an interim capacity.

The search to find the new president took nine months, and Saini doesn't begin his five-year term until January 1, 2020—nearly eight months from now—making for a potential leadership gap because MacKinnon’s term is set to conclude at the end of June. As the Board of Governors considers options for getting through the remainder of the year, plans are underway for Saini's first campus visit as president-elect in June.

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