July 7, 2011
With the class of 2011 now off into the world, I want to take this opportunity to provide our alumni with an overview of the past year at Queen’s. My goals included leading the discussion to define Queen’s academic priorities for the future, and helping the university find steady footing in a rocky economic climate. 2010-11 was a particularly challenging year for the university, in several ways, but also a year in which we made much progress.
The provostial model at Queen’s is now well underway to being fully implemented. Bob Silverman served in an interim capacity as our first Provost this last year, and has done an admirable job. I wish him well in his upcoming retirement after 15 years at Queen’s. This August, we welcome Alan Harrison as University Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic).
What having a provost means for me is that I have more time to meet with people outside the university, including alumni who provide valuable insight and experience, and colleagues at universities around the world with whom we share information and resources and develop partnerships that can benefit our students and faculty. It also allows me to focus more on government relations, promoting our priorities with all levels of government.
The academic planning process will wrap up this fall, with Senate scheduled to discuss a report in September, authored by a task force of faculty, staff and students. This is, of course, not the end of planning at Queen’s, which must be ongoing, but it will provide the hub around which other planning exercises unfold.
For the last three years, Queen’s has run a deficit. This is not an uncommon situation for universities in Canada these days, given the limitations of government transfers, and the aftermath of a recession. But when I was hired in 2009, I committed to eliminate the deficit over a number of years. Since then, I have worked with senior administrators on a sustainable plan that will balance the operating budget by 2012-13. We are working on a number of initiatives to reduce our costs and generate revenue, while preserving the quality of education and research at Queen’s. Provost Silverman and V-P (Finance and Administration) Caroline Davis have released several financial updates to the community on various pieces of the financial picture.
Like everyone at Queen’s, I have been deeply saddened by a number of tragic deaths of students at Queen’s this year. In the wake of these terrible losses, we have renewed our efforts to enhance our mental health programs and supports for students. We are adding staff and reducing wait times for counselling on campus, and expanding our outreach to students.
Starting this month, students are choosing their classes for the fall. This September, we will welcome the Class of 2015 to campus. I look forward to meeting the newest members of the Queen’s community in the fall, and I hope to meet some of you this coming year.
As always, I welcome your comments and questions.
Prof. Daniel R. Woolf
Principal and Vice-Chancellor