Acadia’s 16th President and Vice-Chancellor
Dr. Peter Ricketts
As an internationally recognized expert in coastal zones and ocean management, Acadia’s 16th President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Peter J. Ricketts, welcomed his return to Nova Scotia in 2017. A person is never more than 60 kilometres from the sea here, and the Minas Basin with some of the world’s highest tides is only a short walk from campus.
Ricketts, who was born and raised in England, began his full-time academic career as an Assistant Professor of Geography at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax in 1979; he spent the next 23 years teaching and conducting research at Saint Mary’s and Dalhousie, where he was Dean of Graduate Studies. Before his appointment at Acadia, he served as Provost and Vice-President (Academic) at Carleton University in Ottawa from 2009 to 2017, where he was also Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies.
A passionate advocate for internationalization of university education – he served as the inaugural Chair of the Internationalization Leaders Network of the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) – Ricketts sees Acadia’s diversity as one of its key strengths.
“Although we’re small, we have a very diverse group of students both domestically and internationally, And because we’re small, all of those students intermix with each other,” he says. “Canadian students, international students, students of different backgrounds, are all thrust together and engage with each other. And I think that’s the beauty of an Acadia education.”
Diversity and inclusion were founding principles of Acadia in 1838, he points out. “It was founded to give access to education to people who were denied access into the universities that existed at the time,” Ricketts says. “Acadia was the first university to be established that was literally open officially to anybody with any creed, background, race, religion. There were no institutional barriers as to who could come into Acadia.”
“At Acadia we research through our teaching and we teach through our research, and that's what makes the Acadia education so unique, because our faculty engage their students directly in their research.”
Ricketts has an academic appointment at Acadia, as Professor of Earth and Environmental Science, and has published widely in coastal and ocean management and related fields. He has acted as a consultant for the Government of Canada and for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the US federal government.
“At Acadia we research through our teaching, and we teach through our research, and that’s what makes the Acadia education so unique,” he says, “because our faculty engage their students – and these are undergraduate students for the most part, but our graduate students as well – and they engage them directly in their research. Add to that our commitment to community engagement and service, and you have some of the ingredients that make Acadia such an extraordinary educational experience”
Ricketts is part of the Campaign Cabinet that is steering the Campaign for Acadia. “One thing our Cabinet members all have in common is a recognition that it was the unique education that they experienced at Acadia that allowed them to be successful,” he says. “Under the leadership of Nancy McCain (’82), the Campaign Cabinet constitutes really everything that is successful about Acadia and why we would want to make sure that this University is not just sustainable in the future, but that it has the resources to continue to grow and provide the kind of leadership that students need today when they are going out in the world.”