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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.

Turnitin available through onQ

Turnitin, a text-matching tool that can be used to encourage and maintain academic integrity, is now fully integrated with the onQ learning management system and is available for any course at Queen’s University.

TurnitinDuring the 2017 Winter Term, the university conducted a test run of the tool in approximately 10 undergraduate, graduate, and online courses. This pilot provided a useful test of the supporting technology and information on how to integrate the tool into academic courses, says pilot participant Richard Ascough, Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning), Faculty of Arts and Science.

“Turnitin is a powerful tool for student engagement with the skills of scholarly writing,” he says. “I used it to help my students refine and nuance how they integrated secondary sources as conversation partners into their research essay writing.”

Turnitin is currently used by numerous post-secondary institutions across North America, with more than 25 million users – instructors and students – globally. While it is primarily seen as a tool to help detect plagiarism in course assignments, Turnitin can also be used to support the development of scholarly writing skills. Once a paper is submitted to Turnitin, the program provides a report on how closely it compares to previously written material through an analysis of word patterns. The writer can then address the issues before making a final submission.

Turnitin is now available for any instructor who wishes to use it, but Dr. Ascough says that it is important for instructors to start planning early before introducing the tool to a course.

“Like any new pedagogical tool, integrating Turnitin into my course took some up-front time investment, both in learning the technology and in thinking carefully through designing for its use pedagogically,” he says. “It did, however, pay off in terms of student learning. I would definitely build on my initial forays by integrating further in subsequent course offerings.”

Support for instructors is being provided by the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL). For detailed instructions on integrating Turnitin into a course, visit the Turnitin page on the CTL website. Instructors looking for assistance with the integration can contact the IT Support Centre at 613-533-6666. Support sessions for setting up Turnitin in onQ and making best use of the tool are available every Thursday from 2-3 pm in the CTL. For more information or to book a session, contact Selina Idlas, onQ Educational Technology Analyst.  

Recruiting the Class of 2022

Although this academic year has just started, the recruitment season for the class of 2022 is already underway – launched Sept. 22-24 in Toronto at the Ontario Universities Fair, the largest postsecondary educational fair in North America.

Throughout the three-day event, close to 300 staff, students, and faculty members from all corners of campus were on hand to welcome almost 140,000 high school students and their families eager to learn more about post-secondary education and the Queen's experience.

"Queen's University booth is busy at the annual Ontario Universities Fair in Toronto"
The Queen's University booth was busy throughout the Ontario Universities Fair, held in Toronto Sept. 22-24. 

“The biggest impact we have at an event such as OUF is being able to connect with students in a real way, to highlight the various academic, research and student experience opportunities on campus,” says Michelle Taylor, Queen's Head Campus Tour Guide. “We are now following up with every prospective student who wanted more information about Queen’s.”

Queen’s Undergraduate Admission representatives are now working in India and the United States, and the end of OUF marks the beginning of the recruitment season in Canada, as 16 Admission Coordinators and Recruitment Representatives have hit the road to begin speaking to prospective students.

Over 1,600 school visits, fairs, and presentations have so far been booked in Canada and the United States, and across the world including in Belgium, China, India, Switzerland and Turkey. Representatives from Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre are travelling with a group of Indigenous recruiters from colleges and universities from across Ontario on an 11-week tour to urban high schools and Indigenous communities.

“At the end of the 2017 admission cycle, all first-year programs were full at Queen’s, and not all Ontario universities were in that position,” says Stuart Pinchin, Executive Director, Undergraduate Admission and Recruitment. “We have a very strong team of recruitment and admission professionals, and I’m confident we can continue that success in 2018.”

Here in Kingston, the Queen’s Fall Preview Open House will take place Nov. 4 and Nov. 18. Over 8,000 students and their families will visit Queen’s to see campus in full swing. Attendees will speak to students and faculty about their programs of interest, visit residence and sample the food, and tour campus with a current student.

A welcome addition to the recruitment season is the new and improved Undergraduate Admission website, which aims to make exploring Queen’s, finding admission requirements, and learning about the application process easier for prospective students. 

Applications for Fall 2018 opened on the central online Ontario Universities Application Centre on Oct. 3.

 

Leaders in the classroom

The 2017 winners of the Principal’s Teaching and Learning Awards have been announced with awards being handed out in educational leadership, student services, and curriculum development.

The awards, created in 2015, recognize individuals and teams who have shown exceptional innovation and leadership in teaching and learning on campus and are administered by the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL).

“This year’s award recipients are a dedicated group of faculty and staff and I commend them on their deep commitment to enhancing the student learning experience at Queen’s,” says Principal Daniel Woolf. “Across campus there is a great deal of work taking place to foster excellence in teaching and learning and I am delighted that these awards can help raise the profile of this initiative.”

Each award celebrates a different aspect of teaching and learning, such as educational leadership and curriculum development.

Formal presentation of the awards will take place at the Teaching Awards Reception to be held in January 2018.

The recipients are:

Educational Leadership Award
Dr. J. Damon Dagnone, Department of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences

Over the past two and a half years, Damon Dagnone has overseen a fundamental transformation in the design and delivery of postgraduate medical education (PGME) across the 29 medical and surgical specialty and subspecialty training programs at Queen’s. As the School of Medicine’s Faculty Lead for implementation of Competency-Based Medical Education (CBME) Dr. Dagnone has been instrumental in leading a medical school-wide transition to a new model of postgraduate training for physicians, as Queen’s became the first school in Canada to fully adopt this new educational paradigm. This education innovation has required a massive shift in the School of Medicine’s approach to education, and early on it was recognized that this effort would require a dedicated Faculty Lead to spearhead the transition. Dr. Dagnone was the lead author of the school-wide FIRE (Fundamental Innovation in Residency Education) proposal to the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, and his active advocacy was a key contributor to its ultimate approval which allowed Queen’s to move forward with CBME implementation. Beyond his leadership and engagement with stakeholders at Queen’s, Dr. Dagnone has also engaged on an ongoing basis with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and its various specialty committees, the College of Family Physicians of Canada, and other Postgraduate Medical Education offices at medical schools across Canada.

Michael Condra Outstanding Student Service Award
Dr. Renée Fitzpatrick, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences

Dr. Renée Fitzpatrick has been the Director of Student Affairs for the Queen’s School of Medicine since 2014. A child and adolescent psychiatrist, Dr. Fitzpatrick is an experienced and award-winning educator. The beginning of her tenure as director of student affairs coincided with heightened student concern about ‘burnout.’ Early on, Dr. Fitzpatrick helped facilitate a student-organized initiative, ‘Wellness Month,’ an idea that has now been adopted at medical schools across Canada utilizing the hashtag #keepsmewell. Subsequently, she has developed four ‘wellness half-days,’ which focus on self-awareness about awareness , self-care skills appropriate for the developmental stages of students at key points in the curriculum as well as awareness of and responsibility for developing resilience. In addition, Dr. Fitzpatrick has developed a coordinated approach integrating wellness, academic and career advising in an intentional fashion for all students across the four years of the curriculum. Students participate in regular meetings with faculty to provide support in these domains in an individualized fashion. As part of the re-imagining of the Learner Wellness program she has been instrumental in the introduction of an embedded counsellor and is an active participant in national meeting focussing on student wellness and student affairs.

Curriculum Development Award
School of Policy Studies team
Dr. Rachel Laforest
Dr. Robert Wolfe
Joel Jahrsdorfer
Andrew Graham
Fatemeh Mayanloo
Fiona Froats

Over the past four years, Rachel Laforest and her team have developed a competency-based curriculum which integrates experiential and problem-based learning to introduce students to the policy process and the role of policy analysis. Starting in 2014, the School of Policy Studies embarked on a curriculum renewal process after a series of external reviews identified the need to adapt the curriculum to reflect the contemporary public policy landscape. This review led to a greater integration of multi-disciplinary perspectives via the introduction of a new foundational course – MPA810. The team’s external engagement and strong links within the community allowed them to build real-world examples into the curriculum by leveraging the study hours that students participate in. It is this combination of classroom learning, community engagement and practical experience that provides students with a rounded and cutting-edge learning environment. The process of curriculum renewal led by Dr. Laforest and her team involved gather a strong evidence base and student were engaged throughout the process. In collaboration with Bob Wolfe, Dr. Laforest is now teaching MPA810, incorporating feedback from faculty and students along the way. 

Chancellor announces bursary for Indigenous students

Chancellor Jim Leech at the Major Admissions Awards
Chancellor Jim Leech at the Major Admissions Awards. (University Communications)

It was a conversation that challenged Chancellor Jim Leech (MBA’73), and made him wonder what he could personally do to help.

Approximately a year and a half ago, then-Governor General David Johnston convened a first-ever gathering of all Canadian university chancellors. One of the topics of conversation at that meeting: the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the responsibilities of universities and of those in leadership positions to help.

That call to action built on what Chancellor Leech had been hearing and seeing for himself since he started his three-terms as chancellor in 2014. He had participated in a breakfast at the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre, attended some of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force sessions, took part in a blanket exercise with the Aboriginal Council of Queen’s University, and got to know then-Director of Four Directions Janice Hill.

“All of those things came together and I started thinking about what I could do to mark the end of my first term,” says Chancellor Leech. “We know that for all students unplanned events happen, such as family issues or community issues, which may cause a student to drop out. If we’ve got someone who’s come here and worked two or three years, it’s a shame that they might have to drop out for financial reasons.”

So, working with Advancement and Four Directions, the chancellor set out to establish a bursary for Indigenous students. The $15,000 need-based bursary is “awarded on the basis of demonstrated financial need to Aboriginal students in any year of any faculty or school at Queen’s University.” Recipients may be full- or part-time students.

“I remember when I was a student having friends who were towards the end of the year starting to get short on cash and a few hundred dollars might have made the difference between staying in school and dropping out,” says Chancellor Leech. “The objective of this bursary will be to attract more students and give more students opportunities so that we have more graduates who can contribute to society in their communities, acting as role models in our Canadian society and economy.”

The creation of this bursary fund aligns with the recommendations of Queen’s University’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force Report. It will assist Indigenous students in fully participating in the academic and extra-curricular life of the university and will promote inclusion, retention, and success.

“I am very pleased and honored that the chancellor chose this for his contribution,” says Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), Director of Indigenous Initiatives. “It is a pretty significant signal from the chancellor, and it is consistent with his efforts, dating back to the beginning of his term, to reach out to the Indigenous community. It is also very much filling a need – we have a lot of entrance scholarships but not a lot for those who are more senior students.”

Applications are to be made via SOLUS to the Office of the University Registrar, Student Awards by Oct. 31, 2017. Please visit www.queensu.ca/studentawards for information on Student Awards at Queen’s. 

Privilege and discrimination in the wizarding world

  • Some of the decor from Harry Potter Night, including the legendary 'Sorting Hat', some Potter-esque glasses, the Golden Snitch, and a flag. (Supplied Photo)
    Some of the decor from Harry Potter Night, including the legendary 'Sorting Hat', some Potter-esque glasses, the Golden Snitch, and a flag. (Supplied Photo)
  • These Potter fans have their wands at the ready, as they prepare for a night of enchantment. (Supplied Photo)
    These Potter fans have their wands at the ready, as they prepare for a night of enchantment. (Supplied Photo)
  • 'Dumbledore' and a few 'Hogwarts' students hold up the four Harry Potter house crests. (Supplied Photo)
    'Dumbledore' and a few 'Hogwarts' students hold up the four Harry Potter house crests. (Supplied Photo)
  • Dr. Hugh Horton, Executive Director of the BISC, introduces himself to 'Harry Potter' and a few prospective wizards. (Supplied Photo)
    Dr. Hugh Horton, Executive Director of the BISC, introduces himself to 'Harry Potter' and a few prospective wizards. (Supplied Photo)

What better place to explore the magical world created by J.K. Rowling than an actual 15th-century castle? That’s exactly what the Student Services team at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) thought when they started their “Harry Potter Night” tradition a few years ago.

But this year, the night was about more than magic spells, Quidditch, and fantastic beasts. While the Harry Potter books are widely enjoyed by many kids, teenagers, and even some adults, the ‘wizarding world’ it portrays is not without its faults. It’s a hierarchical world which values ‘pure blood’ wizards over ‘muggles’ – non-wizards – and some of the other mystical races which inhabit the fictional world. That’s why the Student Services team used this year’s Harry Potter Night as an opportunity to spark a conversation about privilege and discrimination.

“Building on this annual tradition at the castle, this year we wanted to tie in an educational component and give the students an opportunity to think critically about the underlying themes of the popular book series, as well as make ties to current events happening around the world,” says Paul Lee, Student Life Coordinator at the BISC. “By engaging students in a creative and fun way, we can further develop them into global citizens.”

The evening’s primary activity was an amazing race around the castle. Students solved clues and explored a storyline while learning about the concepts of power and privilege in the Potterverse. After the amazing race activity, the students ended up in the castle pub where they played a number of Harry Potter-themed games, including a sorting hat ceremony. 

Opening the door to open education resources

The Open and Affordable Course Materials Working Group at Queen’s invites instructors to get involved in the development of open course materials.

A new call for proposals offers two ways to get involved:

  1. Review and compare an open textbook: compare an existing openly licensed, high-quality, peer-reviewed textbook with one you are currently using, and consider adopting or adapting it for your next course
  1. Create/author an open textbook: create a new open textbook for an upcoming course/program at Queen's, with cross campus support.

This initiative builds on the engagement and input from ongoing campus-wide conversations, such as the instructor discussion groups held in April that brought together people across all disciplines to share their ideas.

“We received lots of great input through our discussion groups, and we are pleased to begin putting those ideas in motion,” says Working Group Chair, Martha Whitehead, Vice-Provost (Digital Planning) and University Librarian. “We have received some expressions of interest in our call for proposals already, and are looking forward to receiving even more”.

The deadline for submitting a proposal is Oct. 16. If you have any questions or comments, please email: open.education@queensu.ca.

Prepared to learn

Peer Learning Assistants participate in a training workshop, preparing them to help their fellow students. (Supplied Photo)

Students looking to set themselves up for academic success have plenty of free help available on campus, and many are taking advantage of the available opportunities.

Student Academic Success Services (SASS), a department within Student Affairs, runs regular academic skills workshops to ensure both graduate and undergraduate learners are well prepared for their studies at Queen’s. Topics cover everything from “Academics 101: From High School to University” to sessions designed to prepare students in different faculties and schools to write their exams, says SASS Director Susan Korba.

“The first workshops we offer in the fall are all about the basic kinds of skills students need to be successful in their courses,” says Ms. Korba. “These sessions are focused on helping the students get off on the right foot, whether it is ensuring they understand professorial expectations, know how to take effective notes, or develop strategies to manage their time and their schedule.”

In total, more than 6,000 students participated in a SASS workshop last year. This is in addition to those who took advantage of SASS’s one-on-one writing and learning strategies support and those who took advantage of SASS’s wide range of online resources. While many students head down to Stauffer Library to participate in SASS-led sessions, the team also works with faculty members and with Residence dons to deliver the workshops directly to groups of students.

“We started an initiative a couple of years ago that allows us to host workshops for all of a department’s first-year students,” says Ms. Korba. “For example, we will present them with a workshop on writing skills to set them up for success in advance of their first paper, or once they have received the feedback from their first paper and need to prepare for their next one. The more we can support our students, the better the students will do in their writing, and the happier the students and the faculty will be.”

It is not just Queen’s staff leading these sessions. The workshops offered in Residence and through the Queen’s Learning Commons are led by upper-year students. These peer learning assistants volunteer their time to help their fellow students. SASS works with approximately 50 such students who enjoy the opportunity to give back and share their knowledge.

“When I was in first year, I found the academic transition from high school to university to be quite tough,” says Sunny Zheng (Artsci’18), one of the Peer Learning Assistant Team Leaders. “I attended some SASS workshops and they really helped reduce some of my academic anxiety. Now, I volunteer with SASS to help those first year students who feel what I felt, and it has been a really rewarding experience. I think our workshops are valuable because they help students become more efficient learners which is very important in university where students often feel that they have so much to do but so little time.”

So if your students want to take more effective notes, get the most out of their readings, avoid procrastination, or receive support in developing a thesis statement (to name a few offerings), visit sass.queensu.ca

Student leaders in academic excellence, initiative

  • Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs, welcomes Queen's students receiving major admission awards during a ceremony Monday at Wallace Hall. (University Communications)
    Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs, welcomes Queen's students receiving major admission awards during a ceremony Monday at Wallace Hall. (University Communications)
  • Parker Nann (Comm'18), a Chancellor's Scholarship recipient, speaks to first-year students about the opportunities available to them at Queen's. (University Communications)
    Parker Nann (Comm'18), a Chancellor's Scholarship recipient, speaks to first-year students about the opportunities available to them at Queen's. (University Communications)
  • Jena Hudson (Artsci’18), a Chernoff Family Award recipient, talks about the experience of coming from small-town New Brunswick to Queen's University. (University Communications)
    Jena Hudson (Artsci’18), a Chernoff Family Award recipient, talks about the experience of coming from small-town New Brunswick to Queen's University. (University Communications)
  • Gathered major admission award recipients and Queen's faculty members listen to Chancellor Jim Leech about his role at the university as well as the Queen's experience. (University Communications)
    Gathered major admission award recipients and Queen's faculty members listen to Chancellor Jim Leech about his role at the university as well as the Queen's experience. (University Communications)
  • Students receiving major admission awards at Queen's speak with their peers, faculty members and administrators during a special welcome event held Monday, Sept. 18 at Wallace Hall. (University Communications)
    Students receiving major admission awards at Queen's speak with their peers, faculty members and administrators during a special welcome event held Monday, Sept. 18 at Wallace Hall. (University Communications)

It is always valuable to receive advice from those who have walked the path before you.

On Monday, first-year Queen’s students receiving major admission awards heard from a pair of fourth-year students who are in the final stage of their undergraduate academic journey during a special reception at Wallace Hall.

Jena Hudson (Artsci’18), a Chernoff Family Award recipient, and Parker Nann (Comm’18), a Chancellor's Scholarship recipient, relayed their experiences to the new arrivals and called on them to accept the challenges they will face, connect with the community, and rely on the many supports available to them.

Currently, there are 254 entering and in-course major admission award recipients at Queen’s from Newfoundland to British Columbia to Nunavut, and across all faculties and departments.

The selection process is rigorous, with more than 200 faculty, including members of the Retirees Association at Queen’s, volunteering to evaluate the more than 1,200 submissions each year.  

“Major Admission Award recipients demonstrate academic excellence, outstanding leadership, creativity, and initiative,” says Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs. “They are engaged on campus and the community, and we are very proud to recognize their accomplishments.”

The awards are supported by numerous donors. Many donors want to give back this way because they, too, received some form of support, recognition and encouragement when they were students. Their generosity has a significant impact within the Queen's community and the recipients of their awards. 

Visit the Student Awards website for information about the Major Admission Awards program.

Celebrating a unique international partnership

Representatives from the University of Gondar, Queen’s University and the Mastercard Foundation highlight US$24 million collaboration 

  • Queen’s Principal Daniel Woolf, Kim Kerr, Deputy Director, Education and Learning, Mastercard Foundation and Asrat Atsedewoyin, Vice-President Academic, University of Gondar exchange university flags to mark the partnership. (Photo by Stephen Wild)
    Queen’s Principal Daniel Woolf, Kim Kerr, Deputy Director, Education and Learning, Mastercard Foundation and Asrat Atsedewoyin, Vice-President Academic, University of Gondar exchange university flags to mark the partnership. (Photo by Stephen Wild)
  • PhD student Molalign Adugna, Asrat Atsedewoyin, Vice-President Academic, University of Gondar, chat with Principal Daniel Woolf and Marcia Finlayson, Vice-Dean (Health Sciences) and Director of School of Rehabilitation Therapy. (Photo by Stephen Wild)
    PhD student Molalign Adugna, Asrat Atsedewoyin, Vice-President Academic, University of Gondar, chat with Principal Daniel Woolf and Marcia Finlayson, Vice-Dean (Health Sciences) and Director of School of Rehabilitation Therapy. (Photo by Stephen Wild)
  • A traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony was part of the celebration, featuring freshly roasted beans. (Photo by Stephen Wild)
    A traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony was part of the celebration, featuring freshly roasted beans. (Photo by Stephen Wild)
  • Guests at the launch event, held at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, also enjoyed Ethiopian bread and other traditional foods. (Photo by Stephen Wild)
    Guests at the launch event, held at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, also enjoyed Ethiopian bread and other traditional foods. (Photo by Stephen Wild)

It takes plenty of behind the scenes work to get a 10-year, multi-million dollar program up and running. Over the past nine months, people at the University of Gondar and Queen’s University have been working closely with the Mastercard Foundation to put in place all the supports needed to launch the unique international academic and research program.

This week, representatives from all three organizations gathered in the Agnes Etherington Art Centre to celebrate accomplishments so far and to highlight the opportunities the

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Learn more about The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program

US$24 million partnership will bring. Its overarching aim is to create outstanding and inclusive educational opportunities for young people with disabilities in Ethiopia and other countries in Africa under the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program. At the same time, Queen’s will be welcoming University of Gondar faculty members who are dedicated to pursuing their PhDs or Masters.

“I want to acknowledge the vision of the Mastercard Foundation and particularly commend their leadership for choosing a program with such great social purpose,” said Daniel Woolf, Queen’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “It is the beginning of a partnership and the beginning of an exchange of cultures and knowledge that will benefit all of us.”

Under the partnership, 450 African students will become Mastercard Scholars and receive a high quality education at the University of Gondar. In total, the University will provide 290 undergraduate and 160 master’s level degrees in multidisciplinary fields that will encompass health sciences, law, education, nursing, and rehabilitation sciences, taking special care to recruit young people with disabilities, as well as young people from conflict-affected countries.

The University of Gondar will also deliver an annual Summer Leadership Camp for Scholars across the program, as well as a robust, practicum-based experiential program focused on giving back to community, through service and leadership skill development in the field of community-based rehabilitation.

For its part, Queen’s will be providing 60 University of Gondar’s faculty members with an opportunity to study here -- 16 in the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program and 44 in PhD programs in various disciplines across the university. All faculty members who will study at Queen’s will enhance their skills in innovative pedagogy and in topics related to disability and inclusion on the continent.

The project will also offer funding for collaborative research to be conducted jointly on disability, Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR), and inclusive education, with co-Principal Investigators from the University of Gondar and from Queen’s.

The University of Gondar and Queen’s University will also collaborate to develop Ethiopia’s first Undergraduate Occupational Therapy program and will create a CBR certificate program for Mastercard Scholars at the University of Gondar.

“Along with the Mastercard Foundation, I would also like to thank Queen’s University for being an exceptional partner in providing high-caliber expertise in the areas of faculty development, research, and community based rehabilitation,” said Asrat Atsedewoyin, Vice-President Academic at the University of Gondar. “Global partnerships such at this are crucial to realizing our ambition to change the world for the better.”

Also sharing their thoughts at the event, were the first two University of Gondar faculty members to arrive at Queen’s to begin work on their PhDs.

“From my experience in teaching and administration, I have observed there is a great need for inclusion, visibility and equal access to education and employment for students with disabilities in Ethiopia,” said Molalighn Adugna, PhD Student. “I am very excited to be one of the 60 faculty who will receive further training here at this remarkable institution in order to return and support the vision of the University of Gondar to serve the community.”

Both students arrived in June and will be here for the next two years, before heading back to UoG to complete their dissertations.

“When I complete my study, I will pass my knowledge, skills and experiences to the next generation through teaching, research and most importantly by serving my community through strengthening clinical care,” said Mulugeta Chala, PhD student. “I want to thank the Mastercard Foundation for realizing this need and creating the opportunity for African youth like me to learn and prosper.”

Worldwide, the Mastercard Foundation runs a network of 28 Scholars Programs that provide education and leadership development for nearly 35,000 bright, young leaders with a deep personal commitment to changing the world around them.

“There are more than 80 million people across Africa who are living with disabilities and these young men and women deserve an inclusive education that’s designed to help them thrive, and professors and faculty that are committed to ensuring that they develop their skills,” said Kim Kerr, Deputy Director, Education and Learning, Mastercard Foundation. “The Mastercard Foundation played a role in bringing your institutions together based on common objectives, but your vision, commitment, and your passion for working together has truly exceeded all of our expectations.”

Over the coming weeks, the Gazette will continue its coverage of this partnership with a look at some of the experiences of students and faculty taking part in the program so far.

Visit Flickr to see more photos of the Mastercard celebration.

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