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Queen's University
 

Reflections on the Role of the Rector

March 16, 2011

There has been ongoing discussion about Rector Nick Day's recent letter to the federal liberal party leader. For some, there may be remaining questions about my perspective.

Freedom of expression is a fundamental principle at universities and Mr. Day chose to exercise that right.

He and I have a difference of opinion regarding the appropriateness of the use of the office of Rector to put forth personal views beyond the confines of the institution.

I met with Mr. Day last week to share my perspective. As Queen’s principal, I am continually thinking about the overall direction and well-being of the university and the complex interaction among its constituent parts.

In this capacity, my institutional responsibility necessitated that I convey my concern to the Rector. I felt it was important to air my view and share with him my own belief that leaders must consider the broad spectrum of opinion within their constituencies before taking a stand on their constituents’ behalf.

Mr. Day’s choice would not have been mine, but his choice must be respected. Ultimately, he is answerable only to those who elected him.

There are processes underway to respond to the Rector’s actions by both the AMS and the SGPS. This is as it should be – students debating and discussing the role of their elected representative.

As always, as Principal, my interests and passions remain focused on fostering an environment here at Queen’s that promotes open and vigorous discourse. I expect that at all times this discourse is respectful and productive. I request that all those involved in the current discussions maintain these standards. Individuals should feel safe participating and engaging in dialogue. This again, is what universities are all about.

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