Office of the Principal and Vice-Chancellor

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

Our Past Principals

In the early days of Queen’s, the principal had to be a Presbyterian minister and always held the concurrent position of Primarius Professor of Theology. That requirement formally ended in 1912, when Queen's separated from the Presbyterian Church.

Still, the old tradition proved persistent; the string of principals who were ministers was not broken until 1930. Since then, the office has been held by academics in a number of different disciplines.

There has been some confusion about the official numbering of Queen's principals because the university was led by an acting principal for four years in the 1850s. The current convention is to include that acting principal in the official count.

1 [Liddell photo]

Rev. Thomas Liddell (1841-46)
Queen's University's founding principal was selected by the Colonial Committee of the Church of Scotland and arrived in Kingston bearing the Queen's founding document, the Royal Charter.

2 [Machar photo]

Rev. John Machar (1846-53)
The Rev. Machar emigrated to Canada from Scotland to serve as the minister of St. Andrew's Church in Kingston. He was appointed principal of Queen's after the Rev Liddell resigned in 1846.

3 [George photo]

Rev. James George (acting 1854-57)
Born in Scotland, the Rev. George was appointed a professor of theology at Queen's in 1846 before stepping in to serve as principal. During his tenure, he helped establish the Faculty of Medicine.

4 [Cook photo]

Rev. John Cook (1857-59)
The Rev. Cook is the only person in Queen's history to have served as both principal and chancellor (1877-1879). Born in Scotland, he was one of the university's founding trustees.

5 [Leitch photo]

Rev. William Leitch (1859-64)
Under the Rev. Leitch's leadership, the Kingston Observatory merged with Queen's, ushering in a new era of scientific progress. He also presided over the creation of a Faculty of Law at Queen's.

6 [Snodgrass photo]

Rev. William Snodgrass (1864-77)
The first principal to live in Summerhill, the Rev. Snodgrass guided Queen's through some turbulent early years, during which Queen's admitted its first female students and expanded the library.

7 [Grant photo]

Rev. George Monro Grant (1877-1902) During his 25 years of leadership, the Rev. Grant transformed Queen's into a dynamic national institution. His vision enabled substantial growth and saw the addition of graduate studies.

8 [Gordon photo]

Rev. Daniel Miner Gordon (1902-17)
Under the Rev. Gordon's guidance, Queen's separated from the Presbyterian Church after more than 70 years of union. He also led Queen's through the early years of WWI.

9 [Taylorphoto]

Rev. Robert Bruce Taylor (1917-30)
During his tenure, the Rev. Taylor oversaw the construction of Douglas Library, the founding of the Alumni Association, and the introduction of the first commerce courses in Canada.

10 [Fyfe photo]

Sir William Hamilton Fyfe (1930-36) 
Principal Fyfe, who was recruited from Britain, was the first Queen's principal who was a scholar rather than a clergyman. He raised admission standards and established new scholarships during his tenure. 

11 [Wallace photo]

Robert Charles Wallace (1936-51)
A geologist, Principal Wallace guided Queen's through the last years of the Depression and WWII. During his tenure, he expanded facilities on campus and established the School of Nursing.

12 [Mackintosh photo]

William A. Mackintosh (1951-61)
An economist and public servant, Principal Mackintosh was the first Queen's graduate to become principal. During his tenure, he oversaw a significant campus expansion, including the construction of five residences.

13 [Corry photo]

James Alexander Corry (1961-68)
During Principal Corry's tenure, enrollment increased by 80 per cent and more than 10 buildings were constructed or renovated. He oversaw the founding of the Faculty of Education at the new west campus.

14 [Deutsch photo]

John James Deutsch (1968-74)
An alumnus, Principal Deutsch returned to Queen's after a career in the federal public service. In a bid to help Queen's retain its sense of community, he capped enrolment and focused on the student experience.

15 [Watts photo]

Ronald Lampman Watts (1974-84)
Principal Watts first arrived at Queen's in 1955 as a lecturer in philosophy. Under his leadership, Queen's established the School of Policy Studies and laid the groundwork for the Queen's National Scholars program.

16 [Liddell photo]

David Chadwick Smith (1984-94)
Principal Smith first came to Queen's in 1961 to teach economics. The Department of Women's Studies and the Bader International Study Centre at Herstmonceux Castle were founded during his tenure.

17 [Leggett photo]

William C. Leggett (1994-04)
A biologist, Principal Leggett arrived at Queen's after a long career at McGill University. His tenure saw the largest capital renewal program in the university's history, and the doubling of research funding.

18 [Hitchcock photo]

Karen R. Hitchcock (2004-08)
During her tenure, Principal Hitchcock began a strategic initiative to help articulate goals for the university's next decade, including the acquisition of land near campus for the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.

19 [Williams photo]

Thomas R. Williams (2008-09)
Before becoming principal, Dr. Williams served the Queen's community for 30 years as a professor, dean and vice-principal. During his tenure, he secured funding for a new medical school building.