Academic Plan Forum

Queen's University


Guidelines for commenting

This web forum is an opportunity for members of the Queen’s community to openly discuss the goals and recommendations of the Academic Writing Team (AWT) and academic planning as the process moves forward over the next several months.

This forum is intended to provide an opportunity for free flowing community discussion and will not be monitored as a Q and A.

  • All comments are the opinion of the contributor.
  • Contributors are asked to include their true name and e-mail address.
  • All comments will be automatically posted; they will not be moderated before publishing.
  • Comments will be reviewed daily by the site administrator. Any comments that contain personal attacks, offensive language or raise concern regarding campus safety and security will be removed.
  • The site administrator will not respond directly to individual comments, but may encourage specific community members to engage in the conversation as themes emerge.

Should you wish to send feedback anonymously, please use the Principal’s Feedback Form

2 Responses to “Guidelines for commenting”

  1. Tyler Johnston says:

    Firstly, thank you to the AWT team for what I am sure was an incredible amount of time and effort that was put into reviewing the submissions and preparing the document. Trying to synthesize the opinions of all the relevant stakeholders was undoubtedly a very difficult task. What you’ve done will help set the stage for another round of fulsome discussion regarding the future of Queen’s.

    The document covered a huge range of topics and my comments come only after a few hours of review of the most recent document, Principal Woolf’s “Where Next” and Faculty submissions. So, I am sure under further review I may better understand some of the AWT’s points of emphasis that I disagree with if we were able to discuss them in a more dynamic conversational way.

    Additionally, as an arts and science (05′) and public administration (07′) graduate of Queen’s now in healthcare (resident physician), I come with my own biases for the undergraduate Arts and Science programs, “the Queen’s undergraduate experience”, focused, well respected graduate programs such as the MPA and the field of healthcare.

    All that said … here goes:

    In terms of positive aspects of the most recent document, having just been through 3 different strategic planning / governance reviews with national medical organizations I think the emphasis on metrics is extremely important and had appropriate discussion early in the document and in each section (Well Done). I thought the comments around interdisciplinarity, better efficiency in terms of course offerings (e.g. stats in artsci is a big one), better degree flexibility, cultivating “life-long” learners, greater internationalization of Queen’s, and supporting innovation were all spot on. Also, I can remember professors “buying out” of their teaching responsibilities having a significant negative impact on my ability to attend a diverse set of courses given by high quality faculty (who often do high quality research that draws them away from the classroom) so I am glad this is being considered.

    Further, I thought one of the most important key questions for Queen’s was raised – Are all of our academic units sustainable??? – I think this question is a difficult one and the right answers to it may not be palatable to everyone. Ultimately, I think in an age of finite resources Queen’s needs to focus on fewer program offerings both at the undergraduate and particularly at the graduate level so that resources can be focused on cultivating the “outstanding undergraduate experience” that Dr. Woolf alludes to in “Where Next” as well as allowing for a more focused, well resourced approach to producing high quality graduate education and research. Perhaps, some of the areas raised by Dr. Woolf at the end of the “Where Next” document (e.g. environment, international development, public service, global health, ) along with those raised by each of the faculties could be viewed as a lens through which to evaluate which program offerings to retain and which might be less needed. Enrollment and resource considerations would obviously also have to play a role here.

    I had some concerns with the document including an overemphasis on high quality research as a focus for Queen’s. Interested in being an academic myself, I am in total agreement that Queen’s needs a high quality research program to continue to attract top level faculty and graduate students and maintain the high quality of the intellectual environment at Queen’s. However, I feel this emphasis on high quality research has led to a decreased emphasis on undergraduate programs in recent years which I believe to be the heart of Queen’s and I also believe that this emphasis on research has led to a fragmented set of graduate programs that don’t mesh neatly together or with the undergraduate programs. This would make integrating research and UG progams more difficult.

    With regard to the idea of reinvigorating both research and teaching/UG Ed by better integrating research into undergraduate programs I would offer significant caution in this area. I think that students get excited about research when they can research issues that are interesting and important to them and under the current departmental structure at Queen’s, or at least when I was there, students are too often drawn into the research interests of faculty supervisors, often areas they were not originally interested in, and they end up not liking their research experiences because they were somewhat dictated to them rather than developed out of interest. I think the emphasis on inquiry based education and interdisciplinary studies that Queen’s is considering could be a better way to stimulate and integrate research into undergraduate education that may better foster research skills and help facilitate positive experiences in research. Simply forcing students to do more research within their programs is simply not going to work and will lead to a further shunning of research as a component of their education.

    When Dr. Woolf released “Where Next?” back in January I was quite excited about all the innovative ideas he put forth in terms of reforming the learning environment at Queen’s, cultivating an “Outstanding” undergraduate experience, and focusing the University on pertinent real-world challenges (e.g. environment, international development, public service, global health). It made me feel like the new Principal “gets Queen’s” (quite possibly because he is an alumnus). However, I feel as though the latest AWT document does not fully capture some of these ideas (although it does well on some of the educational environment reforms) in terms of having to make difficult choices about
    de-emphasizing certain activities (e.g. expansive research base rather than somewhat more focused base) and I feel like the latest AWT document is a bit conservative in this regard and defends the status quo rather than embracing the changes that some in the Queen’s community feel need to be made.

    Overall, the AWT document will be quite helpful in moving Queen’s academic planning forward and the working group should be commended for that. Nonetheless, I feel that everyone should take another look at the “Where Next” document for its imagination and its willingness to ask tough questions.

    All in all, good luck with the rest of the planning process and if there are any other ways to potentially contribute please let the Queen’s community know.

    Tyler Johnston

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  2. Peter Bullock says:

    I have read the document and it is very wishy washy to say the least (harsher words should be uttered). I was expecting concrete goals and timelines, not open-ended transparent goals. The university needs to grow in both quality and student base, so please plan for that. I am a recent graduate and am a masters students at St. Francis Xavier University working towards a masters in Geology with specialization in Geochemistry. This university is very different but one thing i have appreciated and grown to love is their drive to constantly reinvent themselves and to grow. Every year they gut one or two older building and rejuvenate it with additions and upgrading the facility from top to bottom. When that is not possible they build a brand new building. Queens doesn’t easily have the room to build new building but could tear down old buildings (the 70’s building are just awful, esthetically disgusting and simply impractical) or re-do the insides of all the heritage building. Doing one or two building a year it wouldn’t be long to transform all the building into state of the are facilities. Beyond that the student population needs to grow! Build large new style first year residences behind the old women’s prison with facilities and classrooms/auditoriums and once complete tear down those temporary residences built for the olympics and replace them with towers. New style residences in universities are apartment style and can cost over $7,000/year plus a meal plan, add an extra 2,000 first years and see your money woes disappear. Build parking lot towers out on west campus to increase revenue and alleviate parking problems. Add solar panels to all building and see energy cost fall. the key points

    -either tear down building or rejuvenate them top to bottom
    -build new residences for both first years and upper years
    -increase enrollment of first years
    -build parking lot towers
    -Add solar panels and wind turbines

    What ever you do, do it now and not years from now, Queens is falling behind the times and should be leading them!

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