Today we celebrate Founders’ Day with exciting news about three new partnerships that demonstrate our emerging strategic plan, Acadia 2025, in action, and strengthen the values on which Acadia was founded in 1838.
The three partnerships detailed below provide innovative ways in which Acadia is committing to working with external partners to advance and support our Indigenous students, Black students, and enhance equity, diversity, and inclusion.
The story of Acadia's founding remains relevant today and worthy of remembering each year. Our roots date back to 1838 when our leaders resisted convention by committing the University to a policy of inclusiveness.
When facilities were needed, and the University had no funds, Professor Isaac Chipman travelled throughout the Maritimes to request donations of money, building materials, and hard work. The community volunteered time and donated building materials to construct the first version of University Hall, which opened in 1843. That same year, Acadia granted its first Bachelor of Arts degrees, making it one of the oldest post-secondary institutions in Canada.
There was a time when education was for the select few. Acadia’s leaders changed that by introducing practical courses in agricultural chemistry and navigation to encourage farmers and fishers to attend. Today, we offer more than 200 degree combinations in the faculties of Arts, Pure and Applied Science, Professional Studies, and Theology. Hands-on learning and co-operative education options are part of the curriculum. Our students are immersed in their research and education, and collaborate with their professors and the community.
Acadia was among the first in the British Empire to open its doors to women and people of African descent. Today, our campus community includes students from more than 70 countries, and the Mi’kmaw Grand Council flag flies permanently from the rooftop of University Hall. We are proud to provide nearly $5 million in scholarships and financial aid each year to help ensure that deserving students can experience an Acadia education no matter their circumstances.
Last weekend Acadia University celebrated the first powwow held on campus organized by the Indigenous Student Society of Acadia.
Chief Sidney Peters and I signed an historic memorandum of understanding that makes Glooscap First Nation and Acadia University partners in how we support Indigenous students and travel the path of reconciliation together.
It is an exciting partnership that adds a new Coordinator of Indigenous Affairs, Zabrina Whitman, to our student service delivery team. She will also be providing advice on Indigenisation to me and the University community. We will be sharing more news about this soon.
Acadia University recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Valley African Nova Scotia Development Association (VANSDA).
VANSDA Executive Director Robert Ffrench ('04) and Chair Dr. Geraldine Browning (HON '14) joined members of our leadership team to discuss the partnership. It adds Paulo Santana as the Black Student Employment and Cultural Navigator on our student services team. This new role will strengthen support for students of African Nova Scotian, African, and Black descent as they transition to and from university. There will be a formal announcement released soon.
The University has signed the Dimensions Charter, a tri-agency initiative, supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).
The Charter invites post-secondary institutions across Canada to demonstrate a commitment to recognizing that equity, diversion, and inclusion strengthen the research community, the quality, relevance and impact of research and the opportunities for the full pool of potential participants.
Acadia signed the Dimensions Charter in October, committing to principles and actions that will address systemic barriers in research faced by women, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, members of visible minority and racialized groups, and members of the LGBTQ2+ communities.
Please join me in celebrating Acadia and appreciating the vision of our founders. It is an honour to serve as your President and Vice-Chancellor and to work alongside you to sustain the Acadia of today and build the Acadia of the future.
Dr. Peter Ricketts
President and Vice-Chancellor