The province is finalizing a partnership that will position Nova Scotia Agricultural College as an enhanced centre of excellence for applied research and a national leader in agriculture education. The province and Dalhousie University today, March 23, announced an agreement in principle to merge NSAC with Dalhousie in Truro-Bible Hill. “This is a permanent solution that will strengthen NSAC, benefit students and improve the economy of Bible Hill and Truro,” said John MacDonell, Minister of Agriculture. “Government understands the value of agriculture and related industries that help create jobs and maintain strong rural communities. A merger with Dalhousie will help NSAC fulfill its mission as a national and international leader in agriculture research, education and innovation.” Nova Scotia Agricultural College currently has an operating budget of $33.5 million. Dalhousie will receive the $17.1 million in funding for NSAC provided primarily by the Department of Agriculture. NSAC also currently receives $6.8 million in funding for its educational programs through the university memorandum of understanding with the Department of Labour and Advanced Education as well as revenues from other sources, including tuition and fees. The Department of Agriculture will increase its funding by $1.5 million in the coming fiscal year to cover some merger-related costs as well as provide a one-time allocation of $7.5 million over three years for transition costs, such as IT conversion and building maintenance. The effective date of the merger is July 1. NSAC faculty and staff will officially become employees of Dalhousie. Students will enter the merged institution in the fall. “Together our staff, faculty and students will build on the relationships, successes and traditions of each institution,” said Tom Traves, president Dalhousie University. “Students will benefit from new and innovative learning opportunities, industry will benefit from the knowledge and expertise that graduates and research scholars bring with them and we will benefit as this campus attracts students and investment that make our province and our region more competitive around the world.” NSAC will be a faculty within Dalhousie University on a distinct campus. The new Faculty of Agriculture will be led by Harold Cook as campus principal/dean. Dr. Cook, the former dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie and a distinguished NSAC alumnus, will begin his duties May 1. A national search will be launched immediately for a full-term campus principal/dean. NSAC employees will move with their collective agreements to Dalhousie University and will stay in the province’s Public Service Superannuation Plan. Future contracts will be negotiated with Dalhousie. The Department of Agriculture, Dalhousie and NSAC will collaborate on the transition until July 1. The merger is also intended to ensure benefits for the Annapolis Valley and Cumberland County. It is an opportunity for Dalhousie and NSAC to partner with Acadia University to capitalize on the Kentville Agricultural Research Station and for spinoffs for the Nappan Agricultural Research Station. The Nova Scotia Agricultural College was founded in 1905, providing Atlantic Canada’s only specialized, advanced programs in agricultural science. It employs about 300 faculty and staff and has enrollment of about 1,000 students.