Type of entity
Authorized form of name
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Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules
Other form(s) of name
Identifiers for corporate bodies
Dates of existence
The Board of Governors is responsible for the overall conduct, management, administration and control of the property, revenue and business of Dalhousie University.
On 11 December 1817 Lord Dalhousie made a submission to his Council proposing the establishment of a college in Halifax, naming an interim Board of Trustees made up of the lieutenant governor (himself); the chief justice, the Anglican bishop; the provincial treasurer; and the Speaker of the Assembly (later adding the minister of St Matthews Church).
Two years later, in the face of mounting building debt, it was expedient to incorporate the governors of the college, which comprised Lord Dalhousie (now the Governor General of North America); Sir James Kempt (the current Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia); the Anglican Bishop of Nova Scotia; the chief justice; the treasurer of the province; the Speaker of the Assembly; and the president of the college (who was yet to be named). The 1821 Act was passed, incorporating the governors of Dalhousie College and beginning Dalhousie’s legal existence.
By August 1838, due to deaths, resignations and absences, the board was reduced to three: the lieutenant-governor, the treasurer of the province and the Speaker of the House. Despite disagreement and opposition, the board appointed three professors for the college’s first term, including Thomas McCulloch as president. In 1840 the Dalhousie Act reconfigured the board established by the Act of 1821. The Governor General of North America, the chief justice and all other ex-officio members were dropped, with the exception of the lieutenant governor and the president of Dalhousie College. Twelve new members were named and it was decided that future vacancies would be selected by the Legislative Council, with two members chosen by the Assembly and one by the Council. If cumbersome, the new 17-member board was more representative across political and religious spheres than earlier renditions. In 1842 the board drew up rules of governance, including age of admission and requirements for the Bachelor of Arts, and laid down principles of liberality with regard to religious affiliation. They reduced professorial salaries and tried to clarify their rights to the Grand Parade. Despite their renewed efforts, Dalhousie closed its doors in 1844 following the death of Thomas McCulloch.
The 1848 Dalhousie Act reduced the Board of Governors to between five and seven members to be appointed by the governor-in-council, and William Young, Joseph Howe, Hugh Bell, James Avery, William Grigor, Andrew MacKinlay and John Naylor were named to the board. Their efforts to make Dalhousie useful and solvent included opening it first as a collegiate school, then as a high school, and finally as a small university in union with Gorham College in Liverpool, England. None of these was successful and by 1862 the Board was down to four members and had not met in two years.
Three new appointments were made to the board along with amendments granting it greater authority, and in 1863 a new Dalhousie College Act was passed that gave the board power to appoint all college officers, including the president and professors, and, while internal governance was the responsibility of an academic senate, their rules were subject to board approval. The college was reconstituted as a university, conferring bachelors, master and doctoral degrees. In November 1863 Dalhousie College opened under the new board.
Functions, occupations and activities
The Board of Governors is responsible for the overall conduct, management, administration and control of the property, revenue and business of Dalhousie University, including the appointment of the university chancellor and the president.
The Board of Governors holds regular meetings at least four times each year, including an annual meeting usually held in June. The Board comprises an Executive Committee and five standing committees: Academic and Student Affairs Committee; Capital Projects and Facilities Committee; Community Affairs Committee; Finance, Audit, Investment and Risk Committee; and Governance and Human Resources Committee.
Approved minutes of Board of Governors meetings may be accessed on DalSpace. These archived minutes, dating from 1820, were created in several different formats, including handwritten, typescript and electronic. Minutes from earlier years have been scanned to provide online access.
Mandates/sources of authority
The basic statute relating to Dalhousie University is Chapter 24 of the Acts of 1863. This statute replaced earlier statutes, and the 1863 statute itself has been amended and supplemented several times over the years. The provisions of these various statutes provide for the establishment and regulation of the university, the membership of the Board of Governors and its rights and powers, the authority of senate for the internal regulation of the university (subject to the approval of the board), and various other matters.
The By-laws of the Board of Governors set out the operating procedures for the Board, including powers, membership, meeting procedures and committees. The By-laws are interpreted in accordance with the Statutes of Nova Scotia relating to Dalhousie University which specify the powers, rights, authorities and privileges of the Board.
The president and vice-chancellor of Dalhousie University is directly responsible to the Board of Governors, as is the University Secretary and Director, University Secretariat.
The Board of Governors is made up of three ex-offico members—the university chancellor, president & vice-chancellor, and the chair of Senate—fifteen order-in-council members, including a chair and vice chair; three board-appointed representatives; four alumni representatives; three student representatives; two faculty representatives; a Dalhousie Faculty Association observer; and the university secretary.