Help unleash the full potential of Queen's
The Initiative Campaign is in itself a venture that promises to have a profound impact on the future of Queen’s. When we officially launched the Campaign on September 29, we knew we were already well on our way to achieving our goal; however, we were also aware that we would need to enhance our fundraising efforts in the coming months. The $500-million goal, while lofty, is achievable, and the injection of philanthropic support of this magnitude will fuel an unprecedented level of initiative. It will unleash the full potential of our thinkers and doers.
This University has a long history of turning to its friends – mainly, though not always, alumni – for support. In the 1860s and early 1870s, a particularly bleak period, when Queen’s was a little liberal arts college, our sixth principal, Rev. William Snodgrass (1864-77), helped right the financial ship by appealing to donors. In 1874, in an era before post-secondary fundraising was common, he created the University Council as a primarily philanthropic body linking graduates with the Board and Senate. (The Council is in the process of reforming itself.)
Snodgrass’s successor, the Rev. George M. Grant, continued Snodgrass’s efforts and by the end of his long tenure (1877-1902) had transformed Queen’s into a great national institution of learning.
One of my favourite stories, which I repeat often, concerns the building of Frontenac Hall. “Wait a minute!” I hear you say. “Where’s Frontenac Hall? There’s no such building.” You’re right. About 1900, two years before Grant’s death, his strong and courageous stance on a contentious issue cost the College funding from Frontenac County for a planned new convocation hall. Grant was confident, however, that the alumni of Queen’s would not let him down, and, indeed, they came through, as did the students (“For Geordie!”), filling the financial gap. They even named the building in his honour, though Grant himself did not live to see its completion.
Among campus buildings, old and new, Grant Hall is special, even iconic – not just because of all the memories that those of us who have studied and worked at Queen’s share of events within it, nor even because of the respect Grant’s name conjures up, but because Grant Hall stands as a testament to the commitment of Queen’s graduates to their alma mater.
Subsequent generations and campaigns have played important roles in building this University and advancing Grant’s dream of Queen’s as a great national university. Apart from bricks and mortar, those who have come before us have provided research funds, endowed chairs and professorships, enabled students and faculty to study abroad, and, through the ongoing Queen’s Fund, have helped many departments, faculties, and schools to undertake activities that would not otherwise occur.
Those benefactors have stimulated new ventures in teaching and research. They have helped to build Queen’s reputation as one of Canada’s foremost universities; and they have, by endowing scholarships and bursaries, made it possible for Queen’s to attract the brightest and the best undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.
As I have noted in various forums, this is a critical time for all universities in Canada. For Queen’s, I continue to think we are at a “Third Juncture”, a fork in the road that, taken in the right direction, can not only preserve the University’s pre-eminent position in Canada, but also solidify and advance its standing among the ranks of the world’s great international universities.
To do this will require unprecedented private investment in addition to the public support we receive – on a per-student basis, less each year of late. Each generation has its time to make its mark and establish its legacy. Now is our time to step forward and do so.
With that in mind, I ask that you please think seriously about making a contribution to the future of Queen’s University – your university. Your special gift will help fuel the spirit of initiative that has come to characterize this university and its people.
If you’ve given in the past, please accept my sincere thanks. If you are able to do so, I ask you to consider giving again, or even to increase your level of philanthropy, whether through the Queen’s Fund, an endowment, or planned giving.
Every contribution, large or small, is vitally important. That’s as true today as it has ever been, and arguably even more so. The challenge is to us all. Our faculty, staff, students, and friends are ready to do their parts. Like Principal Grant so many years ago, at this pivotal juncture I, too, am confident that the Queen’s family will join hands to support our university.