President Peter Ricketts bids farwell to Acadia
Acadia University President and Vice-Chancellor to step down at the end of his term, June 30, 2023.
Dr. Peter Ricketts’ last day at the helm of Acadia University is fast approaching.
“On behalf of the Board of Governors, I would like to thank President Ricketts for his leadership over the past six years,” said Board Chair Henry Demone. “He worked tirelessly to advance Acadia’s academic mission and strengthen our impact in the community, across the region, and beyond.”
An accomplished board member with extensive experience, Ricketts serves multiple organizations, including the International Coastal and Ocean Organisation and EduNova Co-operative Ltd. He is also involved in various educational organizations, such as the Maple League of Universities, Universities Canada, and the Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents. Additionally, he is the Past President of the Coastal Zone Canada Association. In 2022, he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal.
Ricketts will step down as the University’s 16th President and Vice-Chancellor on June 30, when he completes his six-year term. But his commitment to the campus is undeniable. Just days before taking his leave, Ricketts delivered his final budget update to the Board of Governors, presented a Town Hall on the University budget, and hosted a General Assembly for faculty and staff to celebrate milestones and retirements.
“The last few weeks have been particularly bittersweet for me,” said Ricketts. “My term as Acadia’s leader has been the honour of my lifetime, and it’s hard to imagine a day when Acadia is not the first and last thing on my mind. I will miss the spirit of this special community and the incredible people who choose to be a part of the Acadia family.”
Acadia Students’ Union President Sadie McAlear said she will miss working alongside Ricketts, who always showed a genuine passion for student life. “He consistently checked in with students and advocated for their success and well-being," McAlear said. “I feel grateful for the community-focused atmosphere of Acadia’s campus. It allows us to establish professional and personal connections with senior administration. The relationships we build, like the one I have with Peter, are what I treasure most about my time here.”
A STRATEGIC LEGACY
Since Ricketts joined Acadia in 2017, he has been instrumental in helping the University overcome challenges and achieve significant milestones. These include successfully completing the Campaign for Acadia fundraising initiative, leading Acadia's response to the global pandemic, establishing strategic partnerships with the VANDSA (Valley African Nova Scotia Development Association), Glooscap First Nations, and renewing the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the University, Town of Wolfville, and the Acadia Students' Union.
Under his watch, Acadia became a signatory to the Scarborough Charter and Dimensions Charter and delivered the President’s Anti-Racism Task Force Report. The University also appointed Acadia’s first Vice-Provost for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and has completed cluster hiring to add three African Nova Scotian/Black faculty and three Indigenous/Mik'maw faculty.
Additionally, Acadia became the first Canadian university to sign the UN (United Nations) Sustainable Development Goals. Significant investment has been made in enrolment and retention strategies to improve Acadia’s financial stability and enhance the academic core. In fall 2023, Acadia will offer a new program, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, through a partnership with Cape Breton University.
Ricketts also played a leading role in establishing the University’s strategic plan, Acadia 2025: Transforming Lives for a Transforming World. Developed over two years with input from the Acadia community and beyond, the plan seeks to ensure that the University's education model remains relevant and impactful well into the next century.
"In light of the rapid changes affecting society, the premise of our strategic plan appears to have been prophetic," says Ricketts, who just completed the Strategic Plan Midway Review. “The world is transforming at an incredible pace, and we need our graduates to be prepared. Acadia2025 will serve as a guideline to lead Acadia toward a sustainable future.
A FOND FAREWELL
During Convocation ceremonies in University Hall this May, Ricketts delivered his final address to graduates in the Arts, Pure and Applied Science, Professional Studies, and Theology faculties.
“You are the Class of 2023 – the epitome of Acadia’s motto – in pulvere vinces - because through hard work, you have prevailed,” Ricketts said, expressing his gratitude for the resilience students demonstrated over the course of their studies at Acadia.
He praised them for the challenges they faced and the milestones they achieved. The most significant of these was undoubtedly the global pandemic, which caused the campus to shut down in March 2020, during the Winter Term of their first year.
Despite this setback, the University was able to offer a combination of in-person and hybrid learning options for the remainder of their studies, making Acadia one of the few Canadian universities to achieve that.
Ricketts spoke about the importance of academic excellence but also emphasized the value of the Acadia community and the bonds forged between students, faculty, and staff.
The audience was captivated as he shared a poignant memory of his first Convocation when he presented a degree to Jeremy Ingham in 2017. Ingham was battling a terminal illness, and the Acadia community rapidly pulled together an early ceremony just for him.
Ricketts spoke highly of Ingham, saying he will always remember him. He encouraged the Class of 2023 to follow Ingram’s example and be “a person of substance” by making a positive impact wherever the future takes them. He also reassured the Class of 2023 that he will always remember them, leaving them with words of wisdom that now apply to him.
“Always remember the words of Confucius – ‘Wherever you go. Go with all your heart.’ And when you can return to Wolfville, please do because Acadia is, and always be, home.”
Ricketts’ last day on the job is June 30, 2023. Acadia is conducting a presidential search, and interim plans will be announced shortly.