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Les Haley was the ninth principal of the Nova Scotia Agricultural College and a former professor of biology at Dalhousie University. He began his post-secondary studies at the agricultural college in Truro, Nova Scotia, serving as secretary-treasurer of the student council and graduating in 1958 with a degree course diploma. He pursued further studies at the Ontario Agricultural College before earning a BSc in agriculture from the University of Toronto. He returned to the Ontario Agricultural College to study genetics and animal breeding before completing a PhD at the University of California, Davis.
After a brief stint teaching at the University of Saskatchewan, Haley returned to Nova Scotia in 1970 with a job in the Department of Biology at Dalhousie. His research activities included investigations on the genetic variations of oysters, lobsters and mussels; he was also an enthusiastic teacher, serving as a student advisor, supervising graduate students and playing a key role in developing the honours program in marine biology. In 1988 he took up his appointment as principal of the Agricultural College, where he remained until his retirement in 1996. For two years after that he served as deputy minister of Nova Scotia's Department of Agriculture and Marketing. In 2017 he received Dalhousie's Faculty of Agriculture’s Distinguished Alumnus Award.