Principal's New Year's Message to Alumni

Principal Wolfe Message
On the philanthropic front, thanks to the generosity of our donors – many of whom are alumni like you – and prudent investment, the Queen’s Endowment reached the $1- billion mark.

Dear alumni and friends, 

Happy New Year!

In the Jewish tradition, 18 is considered an auspicious number. It stands for “chai” or life.  So as we begin what I sincerely hope will be an auspicious year for all of us, I wanted to share a few reflections on the latest year in the life of Queen’s University.

2017 was a good year for Queen’s, filled with reflection on our past, pride in our present, and hope for our future.

We wrapped up a year of reflection when we closed the book on our 175th anniversary retrospective, a marking of a history that predates Canadian Confederation and includes many truly exceptional contributors to our country and our world.

175 anniversary at queen's university

While our past is a continual source of pride, we can – and should—be equally proud of our more recent achievements. And 2017 was a year filled with achievements on many fronts. 

On the philanthropic front, thanks to the generosity of our donors – many of whom are alumni like you – and prudent investment, the Queen’s Endowment reached the $1- billion mark, giving Queen’s the largest per-student endowment among Canadian universities. Endowment income is critical to our university as it supports student assistance and student initiatives, and funds research through named chairs and professorships. 

Queen’s reputation is built on the accomplishments and contributions of its graduates, and our alumni continued to be a source of pride in 2017.

Two distinguished alumni made transitions in their stellar careers when David Johnston, Law’66, stepped down after serving for seven years as Governor General of Canada, and Piers Handling, Arts’71, announced plans to retire after 35 years at the helm of the Toronto International Film Festival. While their careers were winding down, Donna May Kimmaliardjuk’s was just getting started. Donna May, Artsci’11, made headlines last year as she became Canada’s first-ever Inuk-born heart surgeon. And 20 Queen’s alumni – and three Queen’s professors – joined the ranks of the Order of Canada in 2017.

Donna May Kimmaliardjuk, Artsci'11, Canada's first Inuk heart surgeon. 

We said goodbye to one of those Order of Canada recipients last year. Gord Downie, Artsci’86, LLD’16, beloved lead singer of The Tragically Hip, left us far too soon at age 53. Gord’s music and his tireless activism on behalf of Indigenous Canadians will ensure that his memory lives with us forever.

Like Gord, we spent much of 2017 envisioning a brighter future, both here at Queen’s and beyond. Last spring I received the final reports of both the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force and the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion (PICRDI). The thoughtful recommendations in both of these reports will serve as a basis for institutional changes in the years to come which, I fervently hope, will see the Queen’s community become a model of acceptance, inclusivity, and respect.

Members of the Tragically Hip accepting their honourary degrees. Notably missing here is Gord Downie who would announce his terminal brain cancer diagnosis just days later. 

And with the enthusiastic support of our alumni, we launched a series of global innovation nodes in San Francisco, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, which will enable us to spread the spirit of Queen’s innovation around the world.

Although 2018 is still in its infancy, we have already laid the groundwork for some of the accomplishments we hope to celebrate once it ends. The 17 newly appointed members of the University Council on Anti-Racism and Equity (UCARE) are beginning their first term, and I look forward to working closely with them in the weeks and months to come to turn the recommendations of the TRC Task Force and the PICRDI into reality.

I also look forward to the fall, when we will realize a dream that is almost a decade in the making, as we officially open our new Innovation and Wellness Centre. For several years now, we have been hard at work transforming the old Physical Education Centre into a campus centrepiece that brings past, present, and future together. Funded through the generosity of our benefactors and with major federal and provincial government support, the Innovation and Wellness Centre is one of the largest capital projects in Queen’s history, and by far the most ambitious in bringing together coherent elements related to teaching, research and student services.  The Centre will contain new laboratory and learning spaces for our Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, a hub for innovation among all academic disciplines, and a centralized space for Student Wellness Services that will make it comfortable for our students to seek help when they need it. 

The Queen's Innovation and Wellness Centre, currently under construction and scheduled to open Fall 2018.

And, of course, we will continue to cast our eyes outward and participate in our global community, bringing Queen’s to the world and the world to Queen’s.

Wherever in the world you happen to be, I hope that your 2018 is a year full of health, peace, prosperity, and success in every aspect of your life.

Cha Gheill!

Daniel Woolf, Artsci'80
Principal and Vice Chancellor
Queen's University