Dr. Peter J. Ricketts,
President and Vice-Chancellor

From the President's Desk

Break the bias, celebrate women and girls

Dear campus community,

Today, Tuesday, March 8, is International Women’s Day (IWD) – a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality.

International Women’s Day has occurred for well over a century, with the first gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. The celebration is not specific to any country, group, or organization.

While Acadia University acknowledges and is working towards long-term policy and action in the name of equity – we all must work together to make a better future.

Acadia is one of 17 institutions taking part in a national pilot program called Dimensions. The program seeks to increase equity, diversity, and inclusion in research at post-secondary institutions. In the Acadia 2025 Strategic Plan, Transforming lives for a transforming world, the tenets of diversity, inclusivity, equity, and respect are paramount in our values. An inclusive and supportive community is also a fundamental part of our Strategic Direction, Caring for our students and employees.

Initiatives like these can help address discrimination and unfairness, but it is in everyday encounters that we can best support our colleagues, students, and community members. Please take a moment to learn more about this year’s international theme – Break the Bias. Because whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead.

Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough, action is needed to level the playing field. It is important to call out gender bias, discrimination, and stereotyping when we see it so we can help one another know better and do better.

From the top, clockwise: Libby Burnham, Lauren Muzak Ruff, Dianne Elliott, and Lalia Halfkenny.
From the top, clockwise: Libby Burnham, Lauren Muzak Ruff, Dianne Elliott, and Lalia Halfkenny.

At Acadia, we have many trailblazers to celebrate – first female graduate Clara Belle Marshall (1884), first black female graduate Lalia Halfkenny (1889), the first female Student Union President Dianne Elliott (’61), and Libby Burnham (’60), the first woman to graduate from Acadia to pursue a law degree, who later served as Acadia’s first female Chancellor from 2011-2018. And more recently, we celebrated our first MSc in environmental science graduate Lauren Muzak Ruff (’20).

Yet, we live in a province with the highest rates of human trafficking in Canada, and we know that women and girls are overwhelmingly the victims of this horrific crime. Even as we celebrate progress, we cannot be complacent. There is still much to do to eliminate gender bias, discrimination, incarceration, and violence. We all have a responsibility to act.

I hope you will remember and celebrate the women and girls in your life on International Women’s Day and every day and do your part to #BreaktheBias on #IWD2022.



Dr. Peter Ricketts
President and Vice-Chancellor

Dr. Ricketts strikes the #IWD2022 #BreaktheBias pose

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