All activity carries risk. Risk mitigation helps manage it, taking safety and health in account.

Risk, Safety and Student initiative: a comment on the recent AMS op-ed

I read with interest the comments of the outgoing AMS Executive in the final print issue of this year’s edition of the Queen’s Journal, in particular those suggesting that the university has become overly ‘risk-conscious’ in recent years. The editorial states that this is leading to a dampening of the freedom of initiative and action, as well as the independence of student government, that has been enjoyed by Queen’s students for nearly a century.

It is certainly true that students here (I was one myself many moons ago) enjoy a much higher degree of autonomy in the non-academic sphere than those at other universities. That’s always been a distinguishing feature of Queen’s. We were one of the first universities to appoint a student representative to the Board of Trustees (the Rector), and students have exercised judicial authority—a delegated authority from Senate—over their peers via the ‘NAD’ (non-academic discipline) system for decades. Continue Reading »

The image shows Queen's unique position (upper right quadrant) as the balanced academy.

A Strategic Framework for our balanced academy

At Queen’s, we talk a lot about being the quintessential balanced academy. It’s a vision that sets us apart from the country’s other universities. But what it means is simple: we want Queen’s to be “the Canadian research-intensive university with a transformative learning experience.” We want Queen’s to be a destination of choice for top-notch researchers and graduate students, but also for bright and curious undergraduates who will make the most of the research-informed education that faculty members deliver. With a well-earned reputation already in place, it might seem that simply building on past success will ensure such a future.

But as I wrote two years ago in The Third Juncture, in these times of economic change, technological advance, and the globalization of education and knowledge, we cannot simply take that continued success for granted. Increased competition and significant financial challenges threaten our ability to achieve our vision and to strengthen the student experience and our research prominence. Continue Reading »

Campus was quiet over reading week!

A chance to catch up

Glad to see everyone back on campus after a quiet week. It is at least getting a bit warmer now and the days are definitely getting longer. We’re into the final stretch of this academic year already!

I’ve been asked by a couple of people how I spent my reading week, so I thought I would answer that in this posting. First, I should say that I’ve never been one for going to warm places for reading week, or skiing. Don’t get me wrong—a nice warm beach would be great after the tough January and February we’ve had (skiing is less my thing). But since as far back as when I was an undergraduate here, reading week has always been a time for me to catch my breath, and catch up generally.

In each of my four years as an undergrad I typically spent the week knocking off a major term paper. Continue Reading »

The Canada First Research Excellence Fund will invest $1.5 billion over 10 years into research excellence.

Federal budget brings good news for research

Budget day is always an interesting one when you work as a university administrator. Sometimes we have a sense of what to expect. At other times, however, we get some surprises. Budget 2014 brought some very good news, not all of it anticipated, regarding research funding for the post-secondary sector.

The increases to the granting council budgets, and an increase in the Indirect Costs of Research program, and support for ‘Big Science’ initiatives such as TRIUMF, of which Queen’s is a participant are certainly welcome and important investments. The new Canada First Research Excellence Fund that will invest $1.5 billion over 10 years into research excellence really moves the yard stick and is key to our global leadership. Universities will see the first installment of $50 million in 2015-16, growing to $200 million in 2018-19 and beyond. The investment acknowledges the important role our faculty, students and staff play in advancing knowledge and contributing to the kinds of groundbreaking discoveries that benefit all Canadians. Continue Reading »

This comic book, "I'm a Chemical Engineering" was produced by Aboriginal Access to Engineering at Queen's. It was distributed to schools in First Nations communities.

Welcome news regarding First Nations education

On Friday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo made a very promising announcement regarding a new plan to transform First Nations education. This landmark agreement should lead to significant investments in First Nations education for students in kindergarten through to grade 12.

I was heartened to hear the news. The unequal access to resources is a pressing issue for this country’s First Nations people, and is one that by association impacts all Canadians.

Author and professor Irshad Manji succinctly describes education as “the unleashing of the permission to ask questions.” Recognizing the value of education – and vowing to make a flawed system better – is one of the most effective things we can do to improve lives. Forgive the cliché, but education really does open up a world of possibility. It allows individuals and communities alike to rewrite the future with a different rulebook. Continue Reading »