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Racism and diversity report addressed at Senate meeting

The final report of the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion was the focus of discussion at Tuesday’s Senate meeting, with Principal Daniel Woolf addressing the comprehensive report in detail.

“These initial commitments and plans are just the beginning. We are committing the funds and making structural changes to ensure that meaningful change is effected on campus,” said Principal Woolf.

“While we have made inroads over the past number of years, there is more that can and will be done. The commitment to follow through on what’s been started, and what indeed started a long time ago, is here now. My goal is to ensure that 10 years from now, we don’t look back and realize we need to strike another committee to address these issues.”

Final Report
To read the final report of the Principal's Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion, please visit the principal's website.

Principal Woolf received the final report from the committee on April 10 and spent the past week carefully examining its many recommendations. He noted that he will take more time to go through it thoroughly, and in the coming months, he and Provost Benoit-Antoine Bacon will work to prepare a longer-term plan. Principal Woolf will return to Senate in the fall with that plan.

At the Senate meeting Tuesday, committee co-chair Yolande Chan and committee member Laeeque Daneshmend outlined several key recommendations found in the final report, including the need to revamp Queen’s strategic planning documents, as well as the creation of a university council on anti-racism and equity and a new senior administration position dedicated to oversight of equity and diversity issues on campus. The professors also discussed recommendations to boost recruitment of black faculty members, and faculty from other underrepresented groups, with annual reporting to faculty boards, Senate, and the Board of Trustees, as well as the need to recruit and retain staff members from equity-seeking groups.

In his remarks, Principal Woolf elaborated on three immediate actions announced April 10, as well as other priorities for the near future. The university has earmarked $3 million over three years in one-time funding to support existing, and launch new, initiatives related to equity and diversity. The principal noted that the provost’s office and the Faculty of Arts and Science have already committed to jointly fund two initiatives with respect to diversifying curriculum and climate for the next three years: the Studies in National and International Development speaker series, as well as the Muslim Societies-Global Perspectives program.

He also expanded on the role of Deputy Provost Teri Shearer, who will lead oversight of diversity and inclusion and whose title has been modified to deputy provost (academic operations and inclusion). Dr. Shearer is uniquely positioned to lead broad institutional change through close working relationships with the deans, vice-provosts, and vice-principals, and through key operational responsibilities in overseeing academic appointments and curriculum development, Principal Woolf said.

"I am committed to working with students and others through this consultative process and to expanding the content of Orientation Week to include mechanisms for training and educating students on diversity and inclusion"
​~ Principal Daniel Woolf

Making changes to Orientation Week was also addressed, with the principal noting that review of this first week of university will have to be done through extensive consultations with students, and other groups and units on campus.

“I believe that fundamental change needs to occur during this important first week of university for students,” said Principal Woolf. “We have heard, over the past year, from various stakeholder groups across campus that Orientation Week must be more welcoming, inclusive, and accessible. … I am committed to working with students and others through this consultative process and to expanding the content of Orientation Week to include mechanisms for training and educating students on diversity and inclusion.”

While making change to this year’s Orientation Week will be difficult, due to timing, the principal did suggest that this year is an opportune time to make some minor adjustments, as the week is already changing due to implementation of a new fall term break.

In his remarks, Principal Woolf also committed to addressing changes to the university’s planning documents, including the Strategic Framework, and to exploring how best to create a council, along the lines of Aboriginal Council, to address issues of diversity and inclusion. He also detailed the university’s plans for faculty renewal, which will be another way the university can address the issue of diversity among faculty. Forty-one tenured stream positions will open in 2017-18, and a five-year plan could see 200 new hires, including up to 20 Queen’s National Scholars.