Convocations are long over, we’ve bid ‘au revoir’ to our newest graduates as they head out into the world, and we are now in the middle of summer months, thus far with pretty good weather in the Kingston area.
I took some vacation in early July and plan to take a bit more in early August, after which the fall schedule of meetings begins to ramp up quickly. The highlight of September for me is welcoming our new students, first year undergraduates as well as new graduate and professional students, to Queen’s.
In the absence of most students at this time of year, the university continues to hum along. Over the past few months, I have been meeting with many alumni and friends of Queen’s, talking about the spirit and initiative of our faculty, staff and students as they push the limits of what can be achieved and develop ideas that make a difference in the world.
One issue that is occupying many on campus this summer is labour negotiations. Collective bargaining is currently underway between the university and several employee groups, as happens every few years as part of the labour relations cycle at any large organization.
Not unexpectedly, this process generates lots of discussion and questions. The university’s goal is to secure negotiated agreements that recognize the valuable contributions of faculty and staff while addressing the financial issues facing the university and ensuring the long-term sustainability of our pension plan. These challenges are not unique to Queen’s – many other universities across the province, and indeed the country, are dealing with underfunded plans and operating budgets that are in deficit. We are very much focused on reaching settlements with all employee groups, but it would be irresponsible not to be involved in contingency planning, which is another normal piece of the collective bargaining process. We all very much hope that we won’t need to implement our plans. There are inevitably differences of opinion in these circumstances, but everyone agrees and understands that compromise must be found.
For students, faculty, staff and others wishing regular updates and answers to frequently asked questions, please consult http://www.queensu.ca/labournews/
I would also draw your attention to the financial updates from our Provost Bob Silverman and V-P (Finance and Administration) Caroline Davis at http://www.queensu.ca/financialupdate/2011.html
I want to welcome our new Associate V-P and Dean of Student Affairs, Ann Tierney to Queen’s as she begins her appointment, and our incoming Provost, Alan Harrison, who begins August 1. And finally, I thank outgoing Provost Bob Silverman for his tremendous leadership over the past 15 months and wish him well in his future activities.