Office of the Principal and Vice-Chancellor

[Principal and Vice Chancellor]
[Principal and Vice Chancellor]

About the Principal

Daniel Robert Woolf is the 20th Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University, a role he stepped into on September 1, 2009.

It wasn’t his first time on the campus, of course: Principal Woolf studied at Queen’s as an undergraduate in the late 1970s, graduating with a degree in history in 1980.

[photo of Daniel Woolf]
Daniel Woolf, Arts'80 at the 2014 Homecoming football game (Photo by Suzy Lamont)

...becoming principal of my alma mater in 2009 was both an honour and a challenge...

-Principal Daniel Woolf

After earning his doctorate at Oxford University (DPhil’83), Dr. Woolf returned to Queen’s in 1984 as a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) postdoctoral fellow in history.

His teaching career took him from Queen’s to Bishop’s University, before he joined the history department at Dalhousie University in 1987. Seven years later, he became a full professor, then associate dean and later, the acting dean of Graduate Studies. In 1999, Dr. Woolf moved to McMaster University, where he held the role of dean of the Faculty of Humanities. He joined the University of Alberta as dean of Arts in 2002.

Dr. Woolf, who is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, the Royal Society of Canada and the Royal Historical Society, admits that learning he would become the principal of his alma mater initially inspired feelings of “shock, elation, and a little bit of fear,” and he continues to regard his role as both an honour and a challenge.

A specialist in early modern British cultural history and the history of historical thought and writing, Dr. Woolf continues to teach at Queen’s on a part-time basis as a professor in the Department of History, and also pursues his own research and writing. He is the author or editor of a number of scholarly articles, monographs and books, including the five-volume Oxford History of Historical Writing (2011-2012) and a textbook on historiography entitled A Global History of History (Cambridge University Press, 2011), which has been translated into several languages.

But Principal Woolf isn’t just about books (though he does have a growing collection of old and rare ones!) – he is also a fan of music (especially jazz), classic movies and is the father of three (one of whom is also a Queen’s graduate).

Born in London, England, Dr. Woolf grew up in Winnipeg. A love of academia runs in his family: his mother taught English at university, his physician father was a member of a medical school faculty, and his uncle is a historian of modern Europe.

Dr. Woolf, who began his second term as principal in 2014, is motivated by Queen’s students and by their dedication to making a difference in the world. While the university is a bigger place than it was when he was a student, it is also more research-intensive and has a more diverse student body.

Since taking the helm, Dr. Woolf has built new connections with government, industry and institutions across Canada, led Queen’s through an extensive series of planning exercises, established the Principal’s Commission on Mental Health, and overseen the Initiative Campaign, the most ambitious fundraising campaign in Queen’s history.

Principal Woolf’s term concludes on June 30, 2019.