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New dean to focus on equity, research, and student experience

Barbara Crow was hired in July to become the Dean, Arts and Science. Dr. Crow joins Queen’s from York University in Toronto where she was most recently the Dean, Graduate Studies. The Gazette caught up with Dean Crow to find out how the first few months have been, and learn more about this new member of the Queen’s community.

Barbara Crow, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science, arrives at Queen's from York University where she most recently held the position of Dean, Graduate Studies. (University Communications)

How has the transition been for you?

"One of the wonderful things about starting at this time of year is that it is a bit quieter. So, while faculty are doing their research and the students are working, I have been able to meet the senior leaders and the department heads. Everybody has been very welcoming and has come to the table with their ideas and concerns about how to strengthen and reinforce the values of the Faculty of Arts & Science. It has been great to get access to their perspective. I value working with people who tell me what they think.

I also met with the Arts & Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS) and the Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) and have been incredibly impressed with their commitment to the student experience. I look forward to continuing a positive working relationship with ASUS and SGPS.

The campus is beautiful, and I have been trying every day to walk through a new building. I have a sense of the different kind of community here, one I am looking forward to working with.

I am also really enjoying the change to my quality of life here. I am walking to work and I have, literally, twice skipped home because I am so thrilled to be there in 10 minutes."

 

What attracted you to Queen’s University?

"It has such a fantastic student reputation – bar none. Our undergraduates benefit from excellent undergraduate teaching and we have many services. I said during my hiring I am not going to be able to help you with retention – you have got that all figured out – but I can make contributions to help strengthen research and graduate education.

I am also really excited that Queen’s is taking a leadership role in wellness through the creation of the new Innovation and Wellness Centre – this is an important initiative for students, for staff, and for faculty."

 

What do you uniquely bring to the role of Dean of Arts and Science?

"I love my work. I love universities. I believe publicly funded postsecondary institutions can be fundamental part of strong communities, vibrant cultures, through the important analytic and critical thinking skills we teach. When you look at the data around people who have been to university, you see that on average, they have higher incomes, they are healthier, they are happier, and they contribute more to citizenship issues. We need to remind ourselves of this – we have to remember many of the other elements we get from a university education."

 

For those who haven’t met you yet, what should they know about you?

"I am a really firm believer in professional development and giving colleagues – students, staff, and faculty – tools to make informed decisions about what we want to achieve in the coming years. I am compelled by evidence supported with data. I try to make decisions based on what the research tells us and I think that is important for us as a university.

On a more personal note, I have a son attending Concordia University. My partner and I met on Canada World Youth and is a faculty member in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design at York University. I have been a vegetarian for over 30 years. I also began taking piano lessons as an adult, and I do this to remind myself of what it is like to be a student. It is a humbling experience to remember what it’s like not to understand things and to be reminded how much work it takes to do something well."

 

What are your priorities for the year ahead?

"I would like the graduate student experience to have the same reputation as the undergraduate student experience. We have a fantastic Dean of Graduate Studies here who has been a leader in Canada and I look forward to working with her supporting the graduate student experience.

In light of the exciting Nobel news in Physics, I am really keen to support our research strengths and to provide infrastructure for all of our colleagues to do well in research across the Arts and Science.

I have come from one of the most diverse universities in Canada, and I think it will be important to take up issues in equity and diversity. I also think the Truth and Reconciliation Task Force report has called for some important changes to the way we do things that will enhance indigeneity at Queen’s.

Those are all really important to me and will drive many of the decisions we will make."