Honorary Degree: Dr. Rustum Southwell

S. I. Rustum Southwell, Doctor of Civil Law, honoris causa
Entrepreneur, Community Builder and Leader, Mentor


A mentor for a generation of entrepreneurs, Dr. Rustum Southwell believes in the power of entrepreneurship to build a stronger province. Originally from the island of St. Kitts, Dr. Southwell has called Nova Scotia home for more than four decades. As one of Nova Scotia’s first Black franchise operators, he understands the challenges of starting a business. In those challenges, he saw an opportunity to help others.

 Honorary degree recipient Dr. Rustum Southwell

Honorary degree recipient Dr. Rustum Southwell

 As the first and founding Chief Executive Officer of the Black Business Initiative (BBI), Dr. Southwell dedicated almost two decades of his life to helping new entrepreneurs. He has helped develop the entrepreneurial culture we see in Halifax and Nova Scotia today. During this time, he contributed to the creation hundreds of businesses and more than 800 jobs. Dr. Southwell is currently adding even more to his legacy with BBI, in his current role as interim CEO.

 The first chair of Hope Blooms, Dr. Southwell has also been co-chair of the African Heritage Month Committee and vice-chair of the Caribbean Association of Nova Scotia. He has worked closely with the Black Cultural Society and was a member of the Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children Strategic Planning Workgroup. Dr. Southwell has served on the boards of the United Way of Halifax, the Waterfront Development Corporation, and the Halifax Chamber of Commerce. He is a member of the Black Loyalist Heritage Society Board of Directors and is currently on the Board of Governors of the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) for his second time.  

An experienced and innovative administrator, Dr. Southwell has significant expertise in strategic planning, business and entrepreneurial development and corporate governance. He understands and champions the importance of entrepreneurship in building stronger, more vibrant communities.


Visit the Convocation page for more information about this ceremony.