Dr. Peter J. Ricketts was appointed Acadia’s 16th President and Vice-Chancellor in April 2017, beginning his six-year term in July 2017. Born in Harrogate, Yorkshire and raised in Bournemouth on the south coast of England, Dr. Ricketts earned his BA (Honours) degree in Geography at the University of Nottingham in 1974 and his PhD from the University of Southampton in 1982. He is internationally-recognized for his expertise in coastal zones and ocean management.
Dr. Ricketts’ appointment at Acadia brings him back to Nova Scotia, where he began his full-time academic career as an Assistant Professor of Geography at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax in 1979. Before his appointment at Acadia, Dr. Ricketts served as Provost and Vice-President (Academic) at Carleton University in Ottawa from 2009 to 2017, where he was also Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies. He has extensive experience as a senior university administrator, having also served as Vice-President (Academic and Research) at Nipissing University, in North Bay, ON (2006-2009); Vice-President, Academic and then President of Okanagan University College (2000-2005) in Kelowna, BC; Dean of Graduate Studies at Dalhousie University (1995-2000) in Halifax, NS, and the first Director of Research at Saint Mary’s University (1989-1994). Ricketts served two terms as President (1998-99 and 1999-2000) and one term as Vice-President (1997-1998) of the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies.
Dr. Ricketts is a passionate advocate for internationalization of university education, and he served as the inaugural Chair of the Internationalization Leaders Network of the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE), during which time he led the development of CBIE’s Internationalization Statement of Principles for Canadian Education Institutions. He also served for five years (2012-2017) as Director of Ontario Universities International, a provincially-funded scholarship program under the Ontario Council of Academic Vice-Presidents that supports international exchanges between Ontario universities and four regions in France, Germany, China, and India.
Dr. Ricketts also has an academic appointment at Acadia, as Professor of Earth and Environmental Science. He has published extensively in the fields of coastal and ocean management, strategic environmental assessment, the applications of geographic information systems and information technology to support decision-making in coastal and ocean resource management, maritime boundary delineation, international coastal and ocean issues, and the management of coastal erosion. He has acted as a consultant for the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Fisheries and Oceans, and Environment of the Government of Canada and for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the US federal government. From 1990 to 1998, he served as a ministerial appointed member of the Nova Scotia Environmental Trust. Dr. Ricketts worked as part of Canada’s scientific team during the Gulf of Maine boundary dispute in the United States that was adjudicated by the International Court of Justice in 1984.
In 1993, Dr. Ricketts co-founded the Coastal Zone Canada Association (CZCA) and served as its President from 2002 to 2008, and again from 2012 to 2016. The CZCA is Canada’s major organization for researchers, public policy practitioners, and community stakeholders in coastal and ocean management. In June 2016, Dr. Ricketts was awarded the H. B. Nicholls Award by the CZCA in recognition of his leadership and significant contribution to integrated coastal and ocean management in Canada. He remains active in his areas of scholarly interest, and is currently a member of the Global Oceans Forum, which works to develop ocean and coastal policy options in the implementation of the United Nations Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Dr. Ricketts is married to Maryann and has two teenage children, Sean and Danielle, and a rescue poodle named Willy. He is an avid soccer fan, supporting his home team of Bournemouth and was still regularly playing soccer with colleagues at Carleton up to his departure (he scored a goal with the last kick of his final game!). In addition to soccer, Dr. Ricketts enjoys all kinds of sports, music (especially classical and folk), playing the guitar, painting, hiking, and family vacations.
Dr. Ricketts is delighted to be back in Nova Scotia, where he spent most of his professional career and where the ocean and coast are never far away.