So long, and thank you
For those of us who live in a four-season climate, fall is upon us – the season for “getting back to business.” For Queen’s and the Queen’s University Alumni Association (QUAA), there are Board of Trustee meetings and the Alumni Volunteer Summit in Kingston. There are QUAA Branch Awards receptions, and we hold the Grant Hall Dinner to recognize and thank some of the University’s most generous donors for their financial support.
Fall is also a time for renewal of the QUAA Board. It’s with mixed feelings that I am handing over the QUAA President’s gavel to my friend, Jess Joss, Artsci’96. Jess and I met while volunteering on the QUAA Board, and we’ve become good friends over the years – sharing car trips between Toronto and Kingston; exchanging hundreds of emails and texts; partying the night away at the annual John Orr Dinner; and always embracing our Queen’s heritage, working to keep our alma mater strong and vibrant. Jess has been a long-time, dedicated board member, most recently as Executive Vice-President, Marketing and Communications.
I know that I leave the Board and the QUAA in capable hands. Jess has a strong, talented Board team to work with, and I know she will be an outstanding QUAA President.
As I come to the end of my own two-year term as President, I’m going to miss what I’ve come to regard as my “second job.” I’ll miss the day-to-day contact with Queen’s, and interacting with the students and staff whom I’ve been fortunate to meet and get to know during my term as President and my six years on the QUAA Board.
In the end, so often it’s all about chance and connections. Through Queen’s friends I met at work, and the coincidence that we could make up our own table at John Orr Dinner one year, I ended up seeing the Queen’s Bands and doing an Oil Thigh for the first time in years. That led to a suggestion by 2005-2007 QUAA President Dan Rees, Com’92, Artsci’93, that I join the QUAA Board. I’d wanted a stronger and deeper connection to Queen’s. I had some skills that I thought the QUAA Board could use, and I wanted to give back to my University. Fortunately, Scotiabank – where I’ve worked for 16 years – strongly supports and enables employee volunteerism.
I became more involved in the QUAA and with Queen’s when Sarah Renaud, Artsci’96, the 2007-2009 QUAA President, asked me to consider succeeding her. It seemed like an easy decision, I was honoured to do so. Throughout my term as President, I’ve been fortunate to work with a remarkable group of volunteers on the QUAA Board and in our Branches and with great staff in Alumni Relations.
My own life has certainly been enriched a hundred fold by my connection with Queen’s. So here’s to Queen’s, to you, and to everyone in my Queen’s family.
I’ve watched three talented and committed AMS executives move through office, been privy to the inner workings of the University, and had a ringside seat for the installation and first two years of Daniel Woolf’s tenure as principal. I now better understand the challenges facing Queen’s and Canada’s other top-tier post-secondary educational institutions. I’ve also made and renewed Queen’s connections that will last me a lifetime.
At our monthly QUAA Board meetings, we’ve often talked about how we recreate the “secret sauce” that sweetened our student years. We believe that connections with other alumni and with the University are important in this regard. If you’re like me, your ties to and your involvement in Queen’s ebb and flow. It’s not always easy to stay engaged in the University; life and career can get in the way. That’s when the connection ingredient kicks in.
Whenever I find out that someone I work with or meet went to Queen’s, I find myself stopping to share stories or thoughts. Our Tricolour ties provide an instant bond, and we connect. By seizing such opportunities and integrating our “Queen’s family” into day-to-day life, it’s easy to stay connected to and engaged with the University.
When such opportunities occur, I hope that like me, you’ll reconnect. If you do, you’ll be glad you did. My own life has certainly been enriched a hundred fold by my connection with Queen’s. So here’s to Queen’s, to you, and to everyone in my Queen’s family.
And now it’s time to say so long, and to hand over the Presidency to my dear friend Jess. Cha Gheill!