Mental Health: An Evergreen Priority at Queen’s

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As our campus evolves and strategic targets are reached, new priorities take the place of the old. In my six years as principal, I’ve seen ambitious goals come and go as they are met, but there is one priority that remains high on the list year after year: mental health.

Some might consider this a failure, but I believe the opposite is true. We have made far too many strides in improving awareness of the mental health-related challenges that are inherent in university life, and the resources that exist on our campus to help our students manage these challenges, for us to write it off as such. However, we know that we still have a long way to go in building the most responsive and supportive community that we can. On paper, we can set deadlines and targets, but in reality, this issue is complex, Continue Reading »

Nobel win reflects Canada’s potential for world-leading research

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The following op-ed was published in The Hill Times.

On Thursday, December 10, academics and dignitaries from around the world gathered in Stockholm for the annual Nobel Prize ceremony. Among this year’s laureates is Canadian Arthur B. McDonald, a professor emeritus at Queen’s University and co-winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics.

I was fortunate to attend the ceremony and, as I watched, I quite literally felt a thrill for my country equal to that which I experienced when the Blue Jays won two World Series.

Dr. McDonald is the first scientist at a Canadian university to win a Nobel since the mid-1990s. He earned his medal for the research done at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO). SNO, now known as SNOLAB, is the site for a series of highly complex experiments costing millions of dollars and conducted two kilometres underground in a working nickel mine near Sudbury, Continue Reading »

Remembering December 6, 1989

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Every year, I pause to remember the events of December 6, 1989. I look back at what was happening at Queen’s and around the world.

December 6 marks the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women in Canada. This day marks the tragic anniversary of the murders of 14 young women at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal.

To bring our attention to the global aspect of this issue, December 6 also falls in the middle of the 16 days of Activism Against Gender Violence, which starts with the International Day Against Violence Against Women on November 25, and ends on Human Rights Day, December 10. This year’s theme marks the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and dedicates itself to ensure violence against women and girls is high on the public agenda.

I have been committed to leading the university in fostering a campus environment that is free from harassment, Continue Reading »

Respect and support are important values for the Queen’s community

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The recent attacks in Paris and terrorist events in Lebanon, Iraq and elsewhere have shocked the Queen’s community and the world. These events, like so many others from around the world, affect members of our diverse and global university community. Anger and outrage at the perpetrators of atrocity is a natural reaction. Generalized hatred directed at a group or individuals on the basis of their background, religion or ethnicity is not. I was dismayed to hear about hateful and discriminatory statements directed towards Queen’s students and others on social media. It is deeply concerning to me that some students are being targeted through anonymous sites such as Yik Yak with comments that are completely inconsistent with the culture and values we promote at Queen’s.

All members of the Queen’s community should be able to go about their lives without fear of discrimination or hate. Continue Reading »

Embrace your depression

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The following guest blog was written by Jae Moon, a 4th year life sciences student who has been battling depression since high school. Jae describes himself as a person who is curious about the true nature of things and enjoys applying evolutionary thinking. Upon meeting with Jae, I asked him if I could share his writing on my blog and he kindly agreed.

“Death is a cure, I tell myself, as I drag one leg over the ledge. It hangs there lifelessly while my other foot grasps the concrete roof with little friction. The wind is icy and forceful; it numbs my face and freezes my tears. The night sky is open and clean. The height of the building brings me closer to the stars and farther away from light pollution. I feel serenaded by ancient cosmic energy and think to myself: ‘what a night to die’. Continue Reading »