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Last updated: Dec 12, 2017 6:17 am

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Internationalization

William Leggett receives prestigious lifetime achievement award

Dr. William Leggett.

William Leggett, professor emeritus in the Department of Biology and Queen's 17th principal, has received the H. Ahlstrom Lifetime Achievement Award from the Early Life History Section of the American Fisheries Society for his contributions to the fields of larval fish ecology.

The American Fisheries Society is the biggest association of professional aquatic ecologists in the world, with over 9,000 members worldwide.

"œIt feels good to be singled out by such large group of people who I respect so highly," says Dr. Leggett. "œI didn'™t expect to receive this award so it'™s a big honour and thrill to get it."

Dr. Leggett'™s research focuses on the dynamics of fish populations and his work as a biologist and a leader in education has been recognized nationally and internationally. A membership in the Order of Canada, a fellowship from the Royal Society of Canada, and the Award of Excellence in Fisheries Education are just some of the awards he has received for outstanding contributions to graduate education and marine science.

The Early Life History Section of the American Fisheries Society recognized Dr. Leggett'™s "œexceptional contributions to the understanding of early life history of fishes that has inspired the careers of a number of fisheries scientists worldwide and has led to major progress in fish ecology and studies of recruitment dynamics."

The award was recently presented in Quebec City at the 38th annual Larval Fish Conference held in conjunction with the 144th annual meeting of the American Fisheries Society.

 

Queen’s School of English turns 75

  • Maple syrup party favours greet guests as they enter the event.
    Maple syrup party favours greet guests as they enter the event.
  • Guests take a trip around the world at the Agnes and learn the culture, food and traditions of countries such as Japan, China, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia.
    Guests take a trip around the world at the Agnes and learn the culture, food and traditions of countries such as Japan, China, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia.
  • Queen’s School of English students share a morsel of Japanese culture with food and facts.
    Queen’s School of English students share a morsel of Japanese culture with food and facts.
  • Principal Woolf welcomes guests to the anniversary event, and shares a short history of the Queen’s School of English.
    Principal Woolf welcomes guests to the anniversary event, and shares a short history of the Queen’s School of English.
  • Queen’s School of English students prepare for the anniversary event.
    Queen’s School of English students prepare for the anniversary event.

The Queen’s School of English gave guests a taste of international flavour during their 75th anniversary event.

The school welcomes students from around the world to learn English language skills and prepare them for undergraduate and graduate studies. Students in the Volunteering in the Kingston Community course at the school created internationally themed booths in the Agnes Etherington Art Centre on Monday, Dec. 4.

“The booths were a visual and taste tour of the world,” said Kate Fazackerley, Student Services and Events Assistant with the school. “Guests got to see their names written in Arabic, Japanese, and Chinese, learn about their Chinese zodiac sign, answer trivia facts, and eat foods from the regions, such as tofu, kimchi, Arabian coffee, green tea, pocky sticks and mochi balls.”

Speakers at the event included Vern “Mishiikenh” Altiman, cultural counsellor with Four Directions; Principal Daniel Woolf; Rebecca Luce-Kapler, Dean of the Faculty of Education; Jim Neill, Deputy Mayor of Kingston; two alumni of the School of English, and one current student with the school.

Originally founded in 1941, a handful of students from Quebec would come to the Queen’s school to learn English over the summer. Since then, the school has grown to upwards of 500 students, who study in short-term and long-term intensive English language courses over a full year.

“The School of English is growing, so this anniversary is a great opportunity to invite people to see what we’ve been up to since our last celebration five years ago,” said Amie Pilgrim, instructor with the school. “I think it’s also valuable in supporting students, to connect them with the community they’re living in.”

“I think the most interesting thing about the school is the diversity,” said Angel Guo, a current student with the school from China who wants to study Film and Media at Queen’s when she graduates. “It’s the first time that the international students meet students from other countries, in one class. We can find friends, and improve our English skills.”

World Link program wraps for semester with focus on inclusivity

Fall workshops support social and academic cultural transition and connects students from around the world  

A series of workshops and social events designed to help international students adapt to their new life at Queen’s has wrapped up for the semester.

Students gather in the Queen’s University International Centre for a presentation on diversity hosted by Stephanie Simpson, Director, Human Rights Office. (Supplied Photo)
Students gather in the Queen’s University International Centre for a presentation on diversity hosted by Stephanie Simpson, Director, Human Rights Office. (Supplied Photo) 

The World Link program’s final event, held last week, focused on culture, identity, and inclusivity. Stephanie Simpson, Director of the Human Rights Office, led the session, and talked about how identity may be interpreted in Canada while providing tips and resources for navigating difficult circumstances.

The program is facilitated by the Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) and is delivered in partnership with Student Wellness Services, the Student Experience Office, and the Human Rights Office. It will be offered again in the winter term.

The World Link program was enhanced this year to focus on intercultural communication skills and competencies, resiliency, and the appreciation of diverse cultures. The events are co-led by students fostering peer-to-peer engagement and learning.  

QUIC Director Jyoti Kotecha says undergraduate, graduate, and exchange students in all years and programs, both international and domestic, are invited to participate. All events are drop-in and registration is not required.

“The World Link discussions and activities help students develop skills, ease cultural transitions, and enhance knowledge and perspectives,” she says. “It is great to see students leave the sessions feeling empowered and confident in their ability to successfully bridge cultural differences, and to feel better prepared to fully engage in student life at Queen’s.”  

Jing Wang (Con.Ed’18) is a teacher candidate in concurrent education who volunteers with World Link. She grew up in Toronto, went to high school in Shanghai, and spent a semester on exchange in Germany.

"The workshops and events that the World Link program hold help both domestic and international students learn from and support one another. And so, while our events are designed to promote intercultural awareness, they are also an opportunity to make new friends, and we have been pleased to see many returning attendees at our events and workshops. Having the social support from other peers can make a big difference in one's transition into another country and also enrich one's university experience in general," she says.

For more information on World Link or other Queen’s events, visit QUIC’s website.

Helping international students thrive

Dr. Arunima Khanna, Cross-Cultural Advisor, shares the challenges and rewards of her work in supporting and offering counselling to international students.
Dr. Arunima Khanna, Cross-Cultural Advisor, shares the challenges and rewards of her work in supporting and offering counselling to international students. (University Communications)

The Gazette talked with Arunima Khanna, Cross-Cultural Advisor with Student Wellness Services, as part of our coverage of International Education Week. Dr. Khanna provides counselling services to the 2,496 international undergraduate and graduate students studying at Queen’s, who come from 108 countries. Her work focuses on helping international students to navigate and adjust to campus life, as well as connecting them with resources and counselling for a range of personal and interpersonal issues that have an impact on physical and and mental health.

What type of support does cross-cultural counselling offer international students?

Our first point of contact with students is to participate in the orientation that is offered to degree seeking and exchange international students. Our message is that studying abroad can be both exciting and rewarding, but also challenging, sometimes stressful and overwhelming. The important thing for them to know is that there are resources and people that they can approach for help and support. Our aim is to put a face to our service, and to normalize seeking help and hopefully to reduce stigma.

After that, students are welcome to ask us for one-on-one counselling if they are having difficulties or if they have concerns about their environment and so on.  Sometimes these concerns are adjustment issues that pass with time, but sometimes more serious or pre-existing mental health issues can emerge. I always try to contextualize international student concerns within their social-cultural environment, by trying to understand how privilege, social and classroom dynamics, and their social experience impacts their mental well-being. Being away from your usual sources of support, experiences of exclusion or marginalization, and micro aggressions can cause an impact on mental health.

We also provide workshops to staff and faculty on multi-cultural competencies, and identifying the unique needs and issues of a diverse student population. I think “adjustment” has to be a two way process; it is not just about international students adjusting to Queen’s; the system has to adjust to the changing demographics of the student population as well.

We also try to advocate on behalf of our international students based on issues that we are seeing, the trends, what we think will be helpful for students to have a positive experience, and what is important to prevent mental health difficulties.

What sparked your interest in this field?

I am very interested in the social determinants of mental health and wellness. When I was training to be a psychologist, I noticed that these were often a missing piece in our interventions; the social-cultural contexts in which distress or issues were occurring were not being given full attention. I noticed that we needed to address not just the presenting issue, but also the contexts in which it is occurring. That is what got me interested in this work.

I firmly believe in using a strengths based, multicultural, equity, and social justice lens in my counselling and advocacy work. I also feel that if Canadian universities are actively recruiting international students, we really need to provide equitable learning environments, as well as culturally competent and meaningful services to our students.

How does your work feed into International Education efforts at Queen’s?

I hope that the work that we do provides support to international students to be well and really thrive during their time here.

As counsellors, we also have the privilege of hearing personal stories from students – their experiences, what are their struggles, disappointments, and successes. I think this information is important to share with senior administration and other decision makers when they design programs, equitable classrooms, support services, etc.

What needs to be addressed to see fewer mental health issues in the international student population?

First, helping students adapt to the academic culture. Academic difficulties cause vulnerability and it can be the beginning of distress. Students are spending a lot of money to come here, they have important academic and career goals that are important to them, so feeling that their goals are in jeopardy can erode their sense of wellbeing. I think that investing in providing early informational and academic support is very important. More TAs and time with TAs will also be helpful.

The second piece is helping students to achieve a sense of connection and community. Being part of a community, establishing a sense of belonging, and connectedness is critical to both academic success and student wellness. As a university, we need to encourage our population to cross demographic boundaries and connect with each other. Many of the undergraduate international students that I have seen say that they feel invisible and often excluded on this campus which is a problem.

What’s the biggest challenge in your role?

The biggest challenge for me is how to help international students who are feeling isolated and marginalized – how to help them build community and make connections. Facilitating a more integrated student body is a challenge. Right now we have pockets of different ethnic groups – I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, we do need to be with people who are similar to us – but we also need to cross those demographic boundaries and to connect as a cohesive community.  We have been working with the Peer Support Centre, who have shown a lot of interest in fostering multicultural competency, to see what the student body can do to encourage a more inclusive student community. I do feel that these efforts need to come from students to be truly meaningful and successful.

I think as a university, our awareness of these issues of diversity, inclusion and equity awareness is growing. But, how do you encourage students to cross those demographic boundaries?

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your work?

The most rewarding aspect is working with this wonderful and diverse group of students. I have learned so much from them! Being present with a student in their moment of need or self-doubt, and helping them connect with their strengths is so rewarding. Helping them name what is going on for them in terms of the environment when they are blaming themselves, changing these attributions is so important. To intervene, to be of service and be part of their journey of claiming space and building a sense of belonging, achieving their personal and academic goals is very rewarding.

What can people around campus do be more inclusive of students going through intercultural adjustment?

We all create the climate at Queen’s and so we bear the responsibility of creating an inclusive and equitable campus. We should try to create opportunities to bring diverse people together and demonstrate the importance of connection. We can work at learning about the experiences of international students not just by attending workshops, but actually applying what we have learned. But most importantly, we can connect at an individual level, be a welcoming and supportive student body and campus, and learn from each other.

We don’t necessarily need to leave Canada to learn about other people and places, we can do it right here on campus. Globalization has to begin right here, in our day-to day interactions!

Sharing international experiences

Queen’s is looking for students to share their learning experiences abroad as part of a new government campaign.

International education in Canada (2016 CBIE statistics)
● Seven in 10 mobile students agree that their experience abroad influenced their career choice
● France is the most common destination for Canadian students headed abroad, attracting 14 per cent. The U.K. came second with nine per cent, and the US with eight.
● Eighty percent of students report financial barriers as the biggest challenge to heading abroad during their studies.
● Business is the top field of study for outbound students, followed by engineering.

Whether it’s a short trip or a semester abroad, the Canadian Bureau of International Education (CBIE) wants to hear from students about how their learning took them beyond borders.

The government-funded group, of which Queen’s is a member, has launched a new social media campaign encouraging students to talk about their international learning experiences. The goal of #LearningAbroad is to persuade students to talk about what they are learning during their trips, and to share best practices among member organizations.

To date, over 791 social media stories and images have been posted and shared as part of the campaign.

“We know international learning opportunities are enriching both for the students personally and for their careers,” says Laura Esford, International Programs Manager. “For students who haven’t yet spent time learning abroad, hearing from another student about their experience can become a point of entry for that student.”

According to CBIE’s research, the main ways institutions share information about international opportunities include brochures and web pages, but these methods tend to only reach students who are already interested in studying abroad. This is why CBIE aims to tap into the enthusiasm and expertise of students who are participating and remind them about the importance of talking about their trips online.

Queen’s has a significant number of students participating in international learning opportunities each year. For example, Engineering students often participate in short-term international internships, while many Commerce program students participate in a term abroad during their third-year studies. Lexie Wright (Artsci’19) chose to spend a few months in Taiwan as part of her Linguistics degree, and says it is among the best decisions she has ever made.

Lexie Wright (Artsci'19) took a trip to Taiwan as part of her Linguistics degree, seeing sights such as the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. (Supplied Photo)
Lexie Wright (Artsci'19) took a trip to Taiwan as part of her Linguistics degree, seeing sights such as the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. (Supplied Photo)

“From the beautiful temples scattered across the island to the crystal clear waters of Sun Moon Lake to the generosity of the locals, studying internationally has taught me the importance of breaking free from the constricting walls of comfort zones and narrow-mindedness in pursuit of happiness and understanding,” she says. “My experience abroad has allowed me to reach previously undiscovered goals, along with a new level of self-understanding and the specific type of confidence that only comes with successfully ordering a cup of coffee in Mandarin with no mistakes for the first time. I know that the values I have developed will stay with me for the rest of my life.”

In the coming days, the International Programs Office (IPO) team will be reaching out to equip the Faculties and the students with the information they need to feed into CBIE’s campaign.

To learn more about the #LearningAbroad campaign, visit CBIE’s website.

To learn more about International Education Week at Queen’s, which takes place Mon Nov 13 to Fri Nov 17, visit the Queen’s University International Centre’s website.

Infographic supplied by Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE)
Infographic supplied by Canadian Bureau for International Education. For an accessible version, or to download a copy, visit CBIE's website.

 

International initiatives boost Queen's into top tier for global engagement

Queen's selected out of 237 institutions as finalist for internationalization award.

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) has recognized Queen’s University as a finalist for its Institutional Award for Global Learning, Research and Engagement at its recent annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Queen’s was selected as one of the final four competitors for the award out of 237 APLU member institutions, alongside Michigan State University, the University of Washington, and the University of Calgary – the latter of which garnered the top prize.

“We have made remarkable progress since the launch of our first-ever Comprehensive International Plan in 2015,” says Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “To be recognized by the APLU as one of North America’s leaders in global outreach speaks to the strength of our strategy and of our academic community, as well as to the development of a real international culture at Queen’s. We should be very proud of the international impact our efforts have had over such a short time.”

Queen’s emerged as a front-runner because of its broad range of internationalization initiatives designed to position the university as a world leader in multi-national research collaboration, global recruitment, and cross-cultural learning opportunities both abroad and at home.

“Deepening our institution’s relationship with the international community is and will continue to be invaluable to the success of our faculty and students,” says Kathy O’Brien, Associate Vice-Principal (International). “Impactful discovery is increased when researchers are able to collaborate with teams from around the world, and access to international opportunities help students open up new doors for learning and employment.”

The APLU also recognized Queen’s as a top contender for notable academic accomplishments like Arthur McDonald’s Nobel Prize-winning work in physics, and its 10-year, $24 million grant from the Mastercard Foundation’s Scholars Program to develop Ethiopia’s first occupational therapy program in partnership with the University of Gondar.

“As an institution, we must continually seek new and innovative approaches to internationalization,” says O’Brien. “Supporting student and faculty international mobility, engaging our global alumni in meaningful ways, and creating a vibrant and inclusive environment on campus and at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) are important ways Queen’s can stand out on the global stage.”

The APLU is a research, policy, and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening and advancing the work of public universities in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Every year, member campuses enroll 4.9 million undergraduates and 1.3 million graduate students, award 1.2 million degrees, employ 1.2 million faculty and staff, and conduct $43.9 billion in university-based research.

Global entrepreneurship network expands to Shanghai

The Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre’s Global Network program helps budding entrepreneurs find their feet in the economic capitals of the world.

Greg Bavington, Executive Director of the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre, presents in Shanghai. (Supplied Photo)

Freshly minted Queen’s entrepreneurs looking to get their start in Asia now have some additional support.

The Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC)’s Global Network, a group of alumni and senior business leaders around the world, has added a network node in Shanghai. The node marks the fifth link in the Global Network, and the first in Asia.

“A node in Shanghai is the next logical step for us, and will be a boost to our ability to support entrepreneurship and innovation activities at Queen’s and beyond,” says Greg Bavington (Sc’85), Executive Director of the DDQIC. “Our growing network will help entrepreneurs emerging from our program solidify their manufacturing strategy and tap into one of the world’s largest markets.”

Joining Queen’s in Shanghai for the announcement of the node was Iris Technologies, a startup launched by Colin Harding (Com’17) and Conor Ross (Sc’16). The company is focused on solving the problem those with a concussion, migraine, or eyestrain often have when using computers. The company is in the midst of implementing a manufacturing strategy for the region.

“As a technology company looking to grow sales and expand its manufacturing capabilities, doing business in Asia is almost a necessity,” says Mr. Ross. “It is my hope that this Global Network node will help hardware startups tackle their biggest challenge – bringing a high-quality product to market – and to achieve this faster and with better products. We are grateful for the support of the DDQIC team and their efforts to support entrepreneurs like us.”

The Queen’s China Liaison Office, located in Shanghai, and the department of Alumni Relations are supporting the recruitment of the first volunteer members of this new node. The China Liaison office was founded in 2007 and its existence underscores the importance of the country to Queen’s global ambitions, says Associate Vice-Principal (International) Kathy O’Brien.

“Building relationships in China is a priority for Queen’s,” says Ms. O’Brien. “The university sent 47 students on exchanges to China in 2016-2017, and has almost 300 identified alumni in mainland China. The Shanghai node of the Global Network is an exciting opportunity to engage our strong and committed Queen’s alumni community in building Queen’s-China connections, and to leverage and recognize their talents by making them an integral partner to what we are doing.”

The DDQIC, Alumni Relations, and Office of the Associate Vice-Principal (International) are seeking Shanghai-based alumni, business leaders, and other supporters who are willing to volunteer their time advising and assisting Queen’s student entrepreneurs. In addition to supporting alumni entrepreneurs as they seek to build connections globally, the network also helps review the pitches of student entrepreneurs who are a part of the Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative program.

Those interested in participating in the Global Network program or learning more about it should visit the DDQIC’s website.

International partnership celebrates first graduate

Matthias Hermann (MSc’17) poses with his invention – a device which detects cadmium in drinking water. (University Communications)
Matthias Hermann (MSc’17) poses with his invention – a device which detects cadmium in drinking water. (University Communications)

A quick glance at Matthias Hermann’s resume shows he’s not afraid of the occasional international adventure.

Since beginning his bachelor’s degree in Chemistry in his native Germany in 2011, Mr. Hermann (MSc’17) has conducted short-term research projects in China and Australia, as well as his home country. Recently, he added Canada to the list after completing a dual degree master’s program in Chemistry – a partnership between Queen’s University and Universität Stuttgart.

“I planned on spending some time abroad as part of my master’s, and when I heard about this program I knew it would be a good fit,” says Mr. Hermann (Sc’17). “I wanted a longer term abroad, exposure to a different academic and cultural environment, and a chance to improve my English. Through this program I got all of that – plus I graduated with two master’s degrees.”

Mr. Hermann recently successfully completed his thesis defense, earning his Queen’s Masters of Science in Chemistry and becoming the first graduate of the dual degree program. At the same time, he earned his Master’s of Chemistry degree through his home university in Germany as part of this two-year partnership program. Mr. Hermann’s thesis revolved around a device to detect cadmium in drinking water in a way that is portable, easy-to-use, and affordable.

Mr. Hermann had to adjust to differences in the Canadian higher education system – at Stuttgart, for example, master’s theses don’t require a defense. Adding to the pressure, representatives from both Queen’s and Stuttgart were present for his defense.

During the visit by Stuttgart, their Dean of Chemistry, Cosima Stubenrauch, held an information session for Queen’s students about the dual master’s degree program.

“About a dozen students attended, and when I asked them to raise their hands if they thought this was something they might want to do every one of them raised their hand,” says Hans-Peter Loock, head of Queen’s Chemistry department. “We are hoping to increase our international footprint, and agreements like these help our students gain a wider variety of experiences in high performing environments.”

Before the visit by Stuttgart representatives, Cally Li (Artsci’17) had already made up her mind. She started in the MSc degree program at Queen’s this fall, and will be heading to Germany in 2018.

“I was looking for a way to stay at Queen’s one more year, but I was also looking for a way to move on and try something new next year,” says Ms. Li. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to build some international connections and try something new. I have heard a lot of good things about Stuttgart’s labs and their standard of work.”

Students from Stuttgart are also emailing Dr. Loock to learn about life in Kingston. Dr. Loock says, ideally, they would like to see multiple students from Stuttgart studying at Queen’s and vice versa each year.

“Successful research groups must be internationally networked – it’s part of doing science,” Dr. Loock says. “Setting up these agreements takes effort and buy-in, but exchanging students with a top German university like Stuttgart allows our graduate students to get the best of both worlds. And, as I discovered when I was an international student in Canada: you stay at a place long enough and sometimes it becomes home.”

Perhaps that will be Mr. Hermann’s experience, as he recently decided to complete his PhD in Chemistry at Queen’s. 

Principal outlines priorities for 2017-18

The Principal has outlined his major priorities for Queen’s University in 2017-18. In this interview with the Queen’s Gazette, Daniel Woolf previews what’s to come this year.

 

How do your priorities advance the university’s mission and build the Queen's of the future that you have envisioned and spoken about?

We are collectively building the Queen’s of the future every day. It’s a place of great traditions, and many of those traditions still survive from my time as a student. Yet no institution survives by staying in the same place. We need to adapt and change. We have made huge progress in the last few years, and I think our trajectory is simply going to continue upward.

My first priority as Principal was to put our financial and governance house in order, develop a culture of planning, and introduce a new budget model – which has been done thanks to the hard work of the Deans and our former Provost. The last few years have been focused on putting in place the conditions for future success, including drafting documents such as the Strategic Framework and the Comprehensive International Plan, ensuring sustainable enrolment growth, improving town-gown relations, and working on our talent management.

My current goals are based on a three-year rolling plan, which includes short-term and long-term priorities. The 2017-18 underlying themes are primarily: catalyzing change, which relates to faculty renewal and research prominence; respecting our community, which includes diversity and inclusion as well as encouraging safe and respectful behavior; and an infrastructure strategy, which will look at the question of how we eliminate $300 million worth of deferred maintenance in the next ten to twelve years and, of course, how we will pay for it.

The faculty renewal effort underpins many of these priorities. It will support our commitment to equity and inclusion, enhance our teaching and learning by ensuring students receive mentorship from faculty with diverse backgrounds and experience, and will help us attract promising early- and mid-career faculty who demonstrate exceptional promise as researchers.

Achieving these goals will put us in a position to reach for much greater success in research and innovation. This should lead us, five to ten years down the road, to an enhanced reputation as one of the most distinctive universities in the country in terms of the quality of its teaching, the quality of its students and faculty, the quality of its research, and its ability to innovate.

 

Looking ahead to the fifth year of our planned faculty renewal efforts, what difference will we see in the Queen’s of 2021-2022?

You will see nearly a quarter of the entire faculty complement turn over between new hires, retirements, and other departures. We will have a number of younger faculty out of recent PhD programs with somewhat different approaches to pedagogy, community relations, and interdisciplinarity. You will also be seeing some mid-career and senior appointments in designated fields to firm up areas of established excellence and promising emerging subjects. Hiring these 200 new faculty is a strategic investment that will lead us into the future.

These new faculty will want to come here because we will be one of Canada’s leading research intensive and teaching universities. They will want to be here because we are a place that recognizes innovation. They will be drawn by the good quality of life, the vibrant culture, and the affordability of living in Kingston. And they will have the chance to teach outstanding students in an environment where there is a great care for health and wellbeing, and in a place where we have made some thoughtful and strategic choices in terms of our research excellence.

The two primary lenses we are using to guide our hiring decisions are research excellence – the few areas at Queen’s that have the capacity to be really world-leading – and diversity and equity, where we know that we have some work to do.

We cannot aspire to be a world leader in every single subject and every single discipline. We have the capacity to make some choices to pursue areas – particle physics is an obvious one, but not the only one – where we can rank in the top 100 or higher. Making such choices does not disadvantage or diminish other areas. A rising tide lifts all boats.

The Provost and I will be taking advice from the Deans and the incoming Vice-Principal (Research and Innovation) in terms of what are the most promising areas. I say ‘areas’ rather than necessarily ‘departments’ or ‘disciplines’ since some will be multidisciplinary. We will also be appealing to our alumni, who recognize the importance of hiring and retaining the best and brightest, for support for endowed chairs and professorships to support our hiring plans.

 

Why are our research reputation and graduate student experience so important?

For Queen’s to be where we need to be five to ten years from now, we need to raise our game on research and graduate education.

We have an outstanding reputation as an undergraduate institution. We are one of the lead providers of a baccalaureate education, inside and outside the classroom. But it is important, if we are to be a truly balanced academy, that we are equally recognized for our research. It is not just an add-on – it is as big a part as the teaching and support for our faculty members.

Student engagement scores are solid on the undergraduate side. We have a little work to do on graduate engagement scores, and the Deans are looking closely at how we can improve those. It’s something we need to see some movement on in the next few years.

The graduate piece is really important because graduate students contribute enormously to the university. On the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) side of the house, they work on research projects that are very much connected with supervisor’s research programme. They are a big part of the engine that drives research. On the non-STEM side, where that model occurs sometimes but is less common, they contribute to the intellectual life of the humanities and social sciences departments. Even in my current job I still supervise one or two graduate students. They keep me on my toes intellectually. And graduate students also enhance our teaching as TAs and Teaching Fellows.

 

What do you hope to achieve by implementing the international strategy, and what impact will this have on Queen’s reputation?

Our international recognition has begun to improve through the great success our admissions and international teams have had in bringing people in. If you tell the world about us, they will actually come. Students who come here and return home build our reputation further.

Reputation is important. Apart from attracting fantastic students, it also has an impact on our ability to form international partnerships and secure international research funding. There is an awful lot of research money available in Europe and Asia, for example, which we could be accessing if we had more collaborative partnerships. We want to build on strategic partnerships with institutions we see as equal or better, opening up exchanges for students, creating opportunities for our faculty to have overseas sabbaticals and for faculty to come here on their sabbatical, and build more international research collaborations.

At the same time, there is also funding to be had in industry partnerships. That, in turn, helps the city and our country. All of this is part of a virtuous circle which will further enhance our reputation.

As I suggested above, interdisciplinarity is important. To solve the problems of the world, physicists have to work with chemists, biologists have to work with environmental engineers and, frankly, all of them need the advice of the social sciences, arts, and humanities. Looking ahead in the next few years, I would like to see us move in a bolder direction to organize interdisciplinary entities that bring together people from different departments and faculties.

 

What do employees need to know and be aware of as far as Queen’s financial competitiveness?

We have come a long way. We would not be hiring 200 faculty over the next five years if we had not got our financial house in order, and achieving this has very much been a collective effort.

On the staff side, Physical Plant Services has been managing our energy costs, saving us a good deal of money over the years. Advancement has been remarkably successful in getting donors to invest and I want to thank them for their hard work. Every dollar into the endowment produces 3.5 cents for particular things we need each year. When you have a large endowment, as we now do, that’s a significant chunk of money.

We have staff in research services and the faculties who work with faculty members and students generating scholarships and operating grants, and those who develop new programs which have brought in additional revenue to the university. Senate has been exceptionally busy in recent years overseeing the development of new programs and exercising its academic oversight of their quality.

And we have a very engaged board of trustees and committees with a lot of financial acuity and experience, and they have helped manage risk and given us a sound financial strategy.

There is still some work to do. We are getting close to resolving some of our long-standing pension issues, which remain a major financial threat. We have significant deferred maintenance challenges to address in the next few years, and it is not only our oldest buildings which need work. We are making progress, as you can see with the number of cranes, trucks, and workers around. Our Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration) is developing a strategic asset management plan so we can identify which buildings are the most urgent for refresh or outright replacement. We have also benefitted from strong returns on our investments and a continued increase in student enrolment, though we must remain cautious and continue to address some of our financial risks.

 

What are the growth areas for Queen’s reputation, and how do we get there?

Interim Vice-Principal (Research) John Fisher is leading our strategic research plan renewal process, and Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion) Teri Shearer is leading the academic plan renewal. Both of these processes should be resolved later this year, pending approval by Senate, and those, in turn, will inform our next iteration of the strategic framework in 2019.

We need to develop a more pan-university approach to some of the things we do. As I suggested above, it’s essential that we bring social sciences, humanities, and arts into some of our more well-known areas of strength. Among other things, they are going to be enormously important in our future digital strategy.

There remain some health and wellness challenges, especially around alcohol consumption, where student leaders have been working with us, and with community members, to encourage safe drinking. University Council has a number of Special Purpose committees looking into matters of importance such as alcohol consumption on and off campus. And we need to remain vigilant on the issue of sexual violence, which is often related to abuse of alcohol.

Finally, we must consider what we can do to become a leader in policy innovation once again. I am expecting, in the next month or so, a report on the future of public policy at Queen’s. I think it will give us some very interesting guidance on directions we might take, and the larger issue of Queen’s in the Canadian and larger international public policy sphere. This obviously involves the School of Policy Studies but I think it can involve so many more of our faculty and students around the university.

Queen's a finalist for prestigious global engagement award

Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic)
Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic)

Queen’s University is one of four finalists for the Institutional Award for Global Learning, Research & Engagement, an annual honour handed out by Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). The award recognizes an institution at the leading edge of inclusive and comprehensive efforts to internationalize their campus.

"Queen's in the World"
Queen's in the World

Also nominated are the University of Calgary, Michigan State University, and the University of Washington. The winner will be announced during the 2017 APLU Annual Meeting in Washington, DC that runs from Nov. 12-14.

“Increasing Queen’s visibility and relevance internationally has been, and continues to be, a central strategic priority,” says Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “To be recognized by the APLU as a North American leader in global research and outreach is an indication that our efforts are paying off and that we are heading in the right direction.”

Queen’s has been selected as a finalist because of its broad range of internationalization initiatives and achievements.

Kathy O'Brien, Associate Vice-Prinicipal (International)
Kathy O'Brien, Associate Vice-Prinicipal (International)

“In 2015, we launched our first-ever Comprehensive International Plan that set ambitious four-year targets for international research engagement, mobility, student recruitment and enrolment, and campus-based international activities,” says Kathy O’Brien, Associate Vice-Principal (International). “Already, we’ve exceeded our objectives for international enrolment and for intercultural training programs on campus, and we’re on course to meet our 2019 goal of increasing undergraduate exchange participation by 25 per cent.”

The APLU also recognized Queen’s as a top contender for notable academic accomplishments like Dr. Arthur B. McDonald’s Nobel Prize-winning work in physics, and its 10-year, $24 million grant from the Mastercard Foundation’s Scholars Program to develop Ethiopia’s first occupational therapy program in partnership with the University of Gondar.

“Queen’s is committed to building a diverse and inclusive community where interdisciplinary and cross-cultural learning and research are fundamental,” says Ms. O’Brien. “Scientific breakthroughs are often achieved through international knowledge sharing and partnerships, and our students need to acquire the skills and connections that will help them succeed on the global stage once they graduate. This recognition from the APLU further inspires our efforts to position Queen’s as a world leader.”

The APLU is a 237-member research, policy, and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening and advancing the work of public universities in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. 

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