Rustum Southwell: Dalhousie’s 9th Chancellor and Inspiring Trailblazer of African Descent

In the realm of academia, rare gems of inspiration and trailblazing leadership have the power to leave an everlasting imprint on the hearts and minds of countless individuals. One such extraordinary individual who embodies these qualities is Rustum Southwell, the remarkable incoming Chancellor of Dalhousie University. His journey from a young international student to becoming a pioneering force in business and community development has been nothing short of inspirational.

Rustum Southwell’s selection as the ninth chancellor of Dalhousie was met with astonishment and immense honor. Hailing from the Caribbean island of Saint Kitts, he first set foot on Dalhousie’s campus in the early 1970s as a Psychology student. While his academic path diverged into the business world, he never lost sight of the vital role education plays in building stronger communities, especially for the African Nova Scotian and African diaspora communities.

Over the years, Rustum’s commitment to empowering the youth and fostering educational opportunities has been evident through his involvement in various scholarship programs and advisory roles. His advocacy for education and community development has been recognized with honorary diplomas and degrees from esteemed institutions, including Dalhousie.

As the Chancellor of Dalhousie, Rustum Southwell takes on a crucial ceremonial and ambassadorial role. Guiding the university’s future graduates through spring and fall convocations, he warmly welcomes them into the next chapter of their lives. Beyond that, he serves as a valued member of the university’s Board of Governors and becomes a passionate advocate for Dalhousie across the province, region, and country.

A beacon of inspiring leadership, Rustum is best known for his exceptional work with the Black Business Initiative (BBI). As the organization’s CEO, he played a pivotal role in creating over 1,500 jobs, providing business training for over 1,000 aspiring entrepreneurs, and supporting the growth of hundreds of Black-owned businesses across Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada.

Looking to the future, Rustum Southwell aspires to use his position as Chancellor to further empower and uplift marginalized communities, specifically during the UN Decade for People of African Descent. With a keen focus on education and community, he envisions a brighter, more inclusive future where everyone can achieve their full potential. As the legacy of his leadership continues to unfold, Rustum Southwell will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on the university, its students, and the wider community, inspiring generations to come.



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