April 23, 2010
Dear Queen's Community,
In some areas of campus there appears to be confusion about the Academic Plan. Over the next few paragraphs I will try to explain what the Academic Plan will be, and what it will not be.
The Academic Plan is a document that will guide master planning for our university. It will highlight Queen's strengths, show areas for cooperation and help define the trajectory for the university in the years to come. As a newly arrived Principal, I would be embarking on this process regardless of financial circumstances. In good times and in bad, this is a way for academic considerations to lead our financial decision making. We are, after all, an academic institution. And successful academic institutions must embrace academic revitalization.
To start the process to arrive at an academic plan, I wrote a vision document in January called "Where Next?" In the vision document I presented some proposals to get people thinking about what Queen's is and what it might strive to be. Then I asked faculties and administrative units to react to the document by sending in their own thoughts through their own plans, this month. From here, senior faculty will amalgamate input and write a draft university academic plan over the summer. Over the fall, the Queen's community will be asked to comment on the draft so that the academic plan can be completed by December. In all, the process will take one year.
I thank all faculties and units for their helpful engagement so far. While the large majority of faculties and units experienced a smooth submission process, some people feel that insufficient consultation has taken place to date. However, input for the plan has only begun. While several staff meetings, a student symposium, a request to student leaders for input, and faculty and department meetings have all occurred, I regret that some members of the community feel they were not sufficiently heard. I take this very seriously. More is to be done and I will find further ways to facilitate input both over the summer and the fall, including focus group meetings and communication opportunities with the senior faculty writers. I will also continue to solicit advice from the Principal's Advisory Committee composed of faculty, staff and students.
After a year, we will have a plan that can help guide the future of our university. Queen's has had its share of challenges over the past few years and its future will be helped by a document that gives broad direction on how to build on its strengths. The Academic Plan will not dictate terms to faculties, departments, schools or units. It is not a financial plan disguised as an academic plan. It will not prescribe mass virtualization and monster classrooms. Instead, it will simply help to guide us towards the best possible future for a great university.
I hope that this helps to clarify the intent of the Academic Plan. To keep the community apprised of our financial situation I will send out a Financial Update in early May following the Board of Trustees meeting where the 2011/12 budget is submitted for approval.
I continue to seek your feedback and welcome suggestions (you can include your name or choose to be anonymous) at: http://www.queensu.ca/forms/principal/
Principal and Vice-Chancellor