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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Dalhousie’s longtime leader to become Brock’s interim president

One of Canada’s most experienced higher education leaders has been named as Interim President and Vice-Chancellor at Brock University.

Tom Traves served for 18 years as President of Dalhousie University, stepping down in 2013 after helping grow the institution’s stature as Atlantic Canada’s flagship research and medical university.

On Thursday (Sept 29) he was unanimously approved by Brock’s Board of Trustees as the person who will lead Brock for the next year while it conducts an executive search for a full-time President. The appointment takes effect Oct.1.

It was also announced that Traves will appoint Tom Dunk, currently Brock’s Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, to be Interim Provost and Vice-President Academic. A replacement for Dunk in Social Sciences is to be announced in the coming days.

Traves (pronounced ‘Travis’) takes over as Interim President from Brian Hutchings, who has served that role for the past three months and now returns to his senior role as Vice-President Administration.

Traves said he is honoured to get the opportunity at Brock.

“The idea that I can make a positive contribution in the short term is inspiring,” he said. “I’m familiar with the challenges facing the post-secondary education sector, and I know how to negotiate with government. I see Brock as an essential component to the strength and vitality of the Niagara region.”

Traves says he will not be making major changes in Brock’s direction, however he does want to identify two or three goals for the coming year and do them well, to ensure that Brock is set up for future success. But in his first days and weeks, Traves wants to learn about his new institution by listening to faculty, staff and students.

“I plan to spend a lot of time talking to people,” he said. “Leaders have to earn their position every day by being trustworthy and building relationships.”

During Traves’ presidency at Dalhousie, the Halifax institution experienced record growth in enrolment, increases in research funding and the establishment of several new faculties.

In 2014 Traves was named as a Member of the Order of Canada for his contributions to post-secondary education in Atlantic Canada, and was recognized for building stronger networks between Dalhousie, its students and the residents of Halifax, and for his leadership of local arts and business organizations.

Brock’s Board Chair John Suk said trustees had received input from Brock’s Senate and other University stakeholders, then established a shortlist of external and internal candidates. In the final analysis, they favoured the candidate with the deepest background to help Brock meet its strategic challenges in the next year.

“Dr. Traves is one of the most experienced university presidents in the country,” said Suk. “He has been a strong leader, has managed many different situations and helped his former institution become stronger and better resourced.”

Suk said this will be a busy year for Brock, with several major initiatives on the immediate horizon, particularly in working with the Province.

“Universities face significant issues and opportunities,” said Suk. “Brock needs to have the most experienced leader possible. Dr. Traves provides that experience, with an accomplished track record as a university president and a proven ability to work effectively with all stakeholders.

“Brock will be led by an exceptional senior team with a strong mix of strategic, operational and academic expertise.”

Suk expressed the Board’s heartfelt appreciation to Hutchings, who carried two senior portfolios for several months after agreeing to serve as Acting President when Jack Lightstone concluded his term on June 30.

Hutchings said “The over-riding objective during the transition period was to ensure the exceptional Brock student experience was not impacted in any way, and we accomplished that.”

“Dr. Traves now brings a record of success to what is already a great institution, and I expect the Brock and Niagara communities will look forward to working with him.”

Scott Henderson, Brock’s Chair of Senate and an associate professor in Popular Culture, said Traves “brings a fresh set of eyes that will help Brock as we develop our new Strategic Mandate Agreement and future strategic plans.”

“His understanding of the higher education landscape in Canada will help him quickly assume the responsibilities of Interim President at Brock. The combination of his experience, with the ability to see us anew, is a tremendous opportunity.”

Henderson said the addition of Dunk as Interim Provost gives Brock a strong academic leadership team.

“Dr. Dunk’s tenure as Dean of Brock’s largest faculty has been exemplary. His knowledge of the inner workings of Brock, and of the immediate challenges we face, will be indispensable as we move forward. This pairing of an experienced Interim President with a veteran internal appointment as Interim Provost ensures that the academic direction of the University is in good hands.”

Dunk, an anthropologist, joined Brock in 2008 when he was appointed Dean of Social Sciences.

“I’m looking forward to working with Dr. Traves and all of our colleagues to get us focused and moving forward on the many things we have to celebrate and need to accomplish at Brock in the next year,” Dunk said.





Tom Traves, Interim President and Vice-Chancellor

Born in Winnipeg, Tom Traves earned a BA from the University of Manitoba before receiving an MA and PhD from York University. He taught at York and served as Chairman of Social Science and then Dean of the Faculty of Arts there before moving to the University of New Brunswick as Vice-President, Academic.

Traves was appointed as Dalhousie University’s 10th president in 1995, and served in that office for 18 years before stepping down in 2013.

Over the course of his career, Traves has been a member of or served on the boards of many associations, companies, non-profits and agencies, including serving as Chair of the Board of Universities Canada, the national association of Canadian universities and colleges.

In 2014 he was named as a Member of the Order of Canada for his contributions to post-secondary education in Atlantic Canada, and on three different occasions was named to the Top 50 CEOs in Atlantic Canada. He was also awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and Golden Jubilee commemorative medals.

Traves also holds honorary degrees from University of King’s College, York University and Umea University in Sweden.


Thomas Dunk, Interim Provost and Vice-President, Academic

Thomas Dunk joined Brock University in July 2008, when he was appointed to his first term as Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. He was appointed to a second term on July 1, 2014.

Before coming to Brock, Dunk was at Lakehead University where he had been Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities and, earlier, Chair of the Department of Sociology.

He holds a BA from the University of Alberta and an MA and PhD in Anthropology from McGill University. Prior to Lakehead, he taught at Concordia University, McMaster University and the University of Toronto.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:  

Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970


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