Dr. Jeff Hennessy named Acadia University’s 17th President

Acadia University’s Board of Governors today is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Jeffrey J. Hennessy as the University’s 17th President and Vice-Chancellor.  

"I am excited to name Dr. Jeff Hennessy as Acadia University’s next President and Vice-Chancellor," says Henry Demone, Chair of Acadia’s Board of Governors and its Presidential Search Committee. "Jeff is passionate about Acadia, has outstanding academic and administrative leadership experience, proven collaboration skills, and expertise in the unique and meaningful liberal arts education Acadia provides its students." 

Dr. Hennessy will begin his six-year term on September 1, 2023. He follows Acadia’s 16th President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Peter Ricketts, who served from 2017 until 2023, and Mr. Ray Ivany, presently serving in an interim capacity as President and Vice-Chancellor until August 31, 2023. 

Hennessy comes to Acadia from Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, where he is the Interim President and Vice-Chancellor. Previously, since 2020, he served as Mount Allison’s Provost and Vice-President Academic and Research. He chaired the Maple League of Universities, an academic consortium of Acadia, Bishop’s, Mount Allison, and St. Francis Xavier universities, dedicated to building critical thinkers and leaders by delivering an extraordinary 21st-century liberal education. He also served as Chair of the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission. 

“I am excited and humbled to return to Acadia University as the next President,” says Hennessy. “The world needs more critical thinkers, problem solvers, creators, leaders, and communicators. The personalized liberal arts education provided by Acadia is vital and increasingly rare, and it is upon us to work together to deliver the Acadia promise to our students so they can be prepared to confront the challenges of an increasingly complex world.” 

A proud Acadia graduate, Hennessy has been a faculty member and administrator on the Wolfville campus for more than 20 years. Notably, he served as the Director of the School of Music from 2007-2013, where he led initiatives that resulted in a reimagining of the music curriculum, an over 30 percent increase in the department’s full-time student enrolment, and an elevation of the program’s regional and national reputation. He served as Dean of Arts from 2014 to 2019, helping to lead Acadia’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action around education and laying the foundation for the University’s decolonization strategy. 

Hennessy holds a Doctor of Philosophy (University of Toronto), a Master of Arts (University of British Columbia), a Bachelor of Music (Acadia University), and a Bachelor of Science (Trent University). 

As an academic and music practitioner, Hennessy has distinguished himself with an extensive record of creative performances and commissioned compositions for music festivals, orchestras, and theatres. He has also published in several peer-reviewed journals, including MusiCultures, Perspectives of New Music, and the Journal of Mathematics and Music.​  

As a higher education thought leader, Hennessy advocates the transformative power of a liberal education, most recently presenting the idea that valuing and trusting people and collaborating on a shared purpose will lead to a thriving university model and demonstrate to students the type of organizations they will seek out and lead in their futures. 

Hennessy is married to Dr. Erin Hennessy, a Wolfville dentist, Acadia graduate, and former president of the Nova Scotia Dental Association, and they have a son, Rory.  

The Presidential Search Committee comprised Board, student, faculty, staff, and alumni representatives. The process included community consultation, interviews, an on-campus presentation, and group meetings with campus and community members. 


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