Who’s Who: Dr. Peter Ricketts: The New Mr. Acadia!

Who’s Who: Dr. Peter Ricketts: The New Mr. Acadia!

By Mike Butler

Although I loved my summer vacation, I was one of those kids who was more excited about the return to school after the summer. I got to see my friends, learn new things, and school was always fun for me. In Wolfville, with the university, it’s always a treat to see the students hustle back into town and “take over” for the school year. There are new faces, cultures, experiences, and new friendships to be made with the latest school year commencing.To welcome the students back at Acadia, there is someone new and very special taking the helm. I’d like to introduce you to the 16th President and Vice-Chancellor of Acadia University: Dr. Peter Ricketts!

Peter Ricketts was born in Harrogate, Yorkshire and was brought up on the south coast of England, in the seaside resort town of Bournemouth. He attended St. Peter’s School for Boys, and went to university in Nottingham to study geography. After receiving his BA (Hons), He was awarded a doctoral scholarship from the UK Social Science Research Council to attend the University of Southampton for his PhD, also in geography. This is where his research interests in coastal geomorphology and coastal management were developed, and he wrote his thesis on the management of coastal erosion. He undertook a comparative study between the UK and the USA, and he won a travel scholarship to spend 3 months in the United States in 1976 to undertake research. It was also during that trip that Peter made his first trip to Canada, visiting Victoria and Vancouver, BC.

Peter’s mother was a teacher, and he’s always been attracted to the teaching profession. He also loves research, and his university education led him to the natural pathway of becoming a university professor.

He states “In 1978 I had the opportunity to take a nine-month academic position at the University of Windsor. During that year, I applied for another nine-month position at Saint Mary’s University, which I thought would be on the way home to England. In April 1979, after being interviewed and visiting Nova Scotia for the first time, I was offered the ideal position of teaching coastal geomorphology, coastal management, and physical geography. My initial idea of coming to Canada for 9 months turned into a lifetime commitment.”

Peter met his wife Maryann during his time in Windsor. She was attending university at Brock, and mutual friends introduced them. They have two children, Sean (20) and Danielle (19). In 2000, Peter left Nova Scotia to live and work in BC, and then Ontario in 2006. He was delighted at the opportunity to return to Nova Scotia to become the 16th President and Vice-Chancellor at Acadia.

On being a professor Peter comments, “What is most special about my chosen profession is the students. As a professor, you are in a very privileged position in being able to influence the lives and careers of the students who take your courses and graduate from the university. As a university administrator, you get the opportunity to influence a large number of students through working to build the entire university and improve the learning environment and career opportunities for all the students. There comes an enormous responsibility with these positions, but through all of the ups and downs of the job, it is the students who make it all worthwhile in the end. I have never lost sight of that, whether as a Dean, Vice-President, or a President.”

So what does Peter do in his spare time, when he’s not running a University and shaping young minds? He says, “Most of my spare time is spent with my family (including Willy, our miniature poodle), but I have a number of hobbies, some of which I haven’t been able to do for a while. I play guitar (mainly folk) but don’t get as much time to practice as I’d like, and I used to paint (mainly watercolor) but again haven’t done so for a long time. I enjoy listening to all kinds of music, hiking, and taking vacations with my family. Our next major upcoming project will be the construction of our new house in Wolfville.”


Besides having a love for the university and its academic standing, Peter fully embraces the beauty of the valley. Ever since leaving Nova Scotia in 2000, he had missed living by the ocean. The oceans define the province, physically, culturally, and economically. He especially loves the Wolfville area and the valley because of the striking coastal scenery, and the rural landscape that reminds him of his upbringing in the south of England. He says, “When I was at Saint Mary’s, I used to bring my geography students, as well as visiting professors and students attending conferences, on field trips to the area, learning about the geology and the coastal, glacial, and fluvial geomorphology of the region. The Minas Basin and its immense tidal flats, the Cornwallis and Annapolis Rivers, the Gaspereau Valley, Capes Blomidon and Split, the dykes and meadows, the beautiful towns and villages, and the fascinating history of the region plus the booming wine industry: what’s not to love about this area!”

As the school year commences, Peter is keeping his focus on being a successful President for Acadia University, and to make Wolfville a true home for his family, and to see his children be successful. To Peter, Acadia is the “jewel in the crown” of Canada’s university system, providing to its students the best education available anywhere in the world, and all in one of the most beautiful campuses in the world. He wants this fact to be known not only across Canada but internationally.

As he puts it, “To be successful citizens of Canada in the twenty-first century, our students must have a truly global education and it is my goal to ensure that Acadia provides the best opportunities possible for that to happen.”

Dr. Ricketts welcomes comments, concerns, and feedback, so if you wish to contact Peter he’s available through mail at:

Dr. Peter J. Ricketts
President and Vice-Chancellor
Acadia University
15 University Avenue, Room 216
Wolfville, Nova Scotia Canada B4P 2R6

And you can follow Peter on Twitter with the handle @acadiaupres

To me, it looks like another prosperous year ahead for everyone! Congratulations on your achievements Dr. Ricketts! Best of luck this year and thank you!