Informed respectful debate is central to academia

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The principles of academic freedom, expressed through thoughtful, informed and respectful investigation, are a central tenet of the values Queen’s holds, and which it strives to instill in our students.

Far too often universities, and university academics, have been attacked by increasingly polarized interest groups seeking to stifle thoughtful or respectful examinations of opposing ideas. Hate speech aside, failing to explore or confront ideas with which we disagree through disciplined and respectful dialogue, debate and argument, does society a disservice, weakens our intellectual integrity, and threatens the very core of what Queen’s, and any university, should be about.

Throughout my tenure as Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Queen’s has advanced the values of diversity and inclusion, and it remains a predominant focus of my own work. I believe that everyone within the university community should feel able to explore and debate diverse and even uncomfortable viewpoints if that occurs in a respectful academic environment. Continue Reading »

After the vote

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The Alma Mater Society (AMS) and Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) held a referendum on charging students a mandatory fee to help finance the redevelopment of the John Deutsch University Centre. The results came in late last night with 51.1% of the AMS students voting no, and 77.3% of the SGPS students voting yes.

The project was contingent on a financing commitment from both levels of student government as well as one by the University. With this split decision, the university cannot proceed as planned, at the present time, with the JDUC redevelopment project. However, the university remains supportive of enhancing student life on campus, and will continue to work with student leaders over the next few weeks to determine next steps, recognizing in particular the strong endorsement by graduate and professional students of a need for dedicated space.

I want to acknowledge the tremendous amount of work that went into this project by our student leaders and our administration and wish to thank them for their commitment to the quality of student life. Continue Reading »

Cast your vote for the future of the JDUC

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On February 12 and 13, Queen’s students will face an important question. The AMS, along with the SPGS, is holding a referendum on implementing a new student fee to help fund the redevelopment of the John Deutsch University Centre (JDUC).

I am a strong supporter of the role of student government within the university. Consequently, I do not normally express opinions or intervene in matters within student leadership’s domain. However, the JDUC renovation is important to the university as well, and I want to work together with the AMS and SGPS to create a modern student life facility, which is important to the student experience on campus.

Plans for the revitalized JDUC include making the building completely accessible, creating new space for clubs and faculty societies, and developing collaborative study spaces. The annual non-reviewable fee would be implemented beginning in the 2019-2020 academic year and charged for the following 20 years. Continue Reading »

You are not alone

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The following email was sent to all students from Principal Daniel Woolf on Monday, January 26, 2018

This time of year, when term is underway, daylight is short, and the weather is mostly cold and grey, can sometimes feel dreary following the holiday break.  As we face the intensity of the term, it’s not uncommon for students to feel the pressure of day-to-day life increasing. If you are feeling overwhelmed, lonely, or depressed, or even just slightly unhappy, but can’t put your finger on why, please know that this is not unusual, and is experienced by many of us at this time of year. But there are plenty of people who understand, and plenty more who feel the same way as you do even if you are not aware of them.

I understand from a couple of recent conversations with students that some of the mental health-related support services that Queen’s provides may not be as well known as they should be. Continue Reading »

A checkup on CBME

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2017 has been another year filled with accomplishments for Queen’s. From the strong performance of our students, to the groundbreaking discoveries of our researchers, we have enjoyed great success and built a strong foundation for 2018. 


One of the most innovative projects from the past year has been our national leadership on a new project that is revolutionizing the way we train doctors in Canada. I have asked Dr. Richard Reznick, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, to contribute a guest column to update us on competency-based medical education (CBME) at Queen’s. 


At the beginning of the summer, Queen’s took a bold step and introduced a new approach to educating specialty residents called competency-based medical education (CBME). With several months of experience in the new system now complete, Continue Reading »