June 29, 2012
Dear members of the Queen’s community,
As we head into the summer months, I’d like to take this opportunity to revisit with you, a few highlights of this past academic year.
We have just completed our spring convocation celebrations. Nearly 4500 of our students graduated. They came to us with curiosity, ambition, ideas, and initiative and I congratulate them as they move to the next stage of their lives as Queen’s alumni. I am confident that we provided them with knowledge and skills that prepare them to be engaged citizens and alumni, both intent on making a difference in our world and possessed of the capacity to do so.
We have accomplished many things as an institution this year in spite of challenges and external pressures. We are successful because of the unwavering dedication and commitment of our faculty, staff and students, and the generous support of our alumni and friends; for that I thank you all.
This year saw two milestones vital to Queen’s future. The first is Senate’s endorsement of the first Academic Plan in the university’s 171-year history. The second is the creation of a Strategic Research Plan, similarly approved by Senate. Both received wide campus input gathered through extensive consultation with faculty, staff and students. I very much appreciate the effort and input from the campus community in the completion of both plans.
The Academic Plan, with its four pillars, will guide Queen’s in our quest to teach students the knowledge and life-long learning skills they’ll need to adapt to living and working in a fast-changing global economy. This plan articulates our priorities aimed at preserving a Queen’s that values teaching and learning.
The Strategic Research Plan is designed to support excellence, strengthen Queen’s position as a top research-intensive institution, and advance the university’s research reputation internationally. It recognizes the need to focus the university, institutionally, on a few themes, very broadly and inclusively defined, while nonetheless encouraging the continuation of basic, curiosity-driven research into any field of interest to a faculty member or student. This is a freedom to explore the unknown (and to generate future pathways and applications currently unimaginable) that lies at the core of a university’s activities.
In the arena of applied research and the dissemination of knowledge to the wider world, Innovation Park and PARTEQ Innovations continue to successfully link research and application. Two examples of innovation at Innovation Park include the commercialization of AsepticSure technology for disinfecting hospital rooms and the commercialization of switchable solvents technologies, the latter designed for a wide array of potential uses including plastics recycling, and efficient, clean recovery of bitumen from oil sands.
Twenty patents were issued to Queen’s University technologies being managed by PARTEQ Innovations, the university’s technology transfer office. PARTEQ startup and spinoff companies attracted more than $24 million in investment funding.
On campus, the improvement of student mental health has been a major theme of the university’s activities this past year, and a growing concern on campuses nationally. Last fall I established a Commission on Mental Health to work towards ways of enhancing support for students in need. The Commission, which has just released an interim report, will be making recommendations on a strategy to help promote awareness and literacy, reduce stigma, and create an inclusive and supportive environment that maximizes health and wellness and effectively responds to illness.
This spring, Bell Canada and Queen’s announced a Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research Chair to advance anti-stigma research, scholarship and outreach programs.
We are in the midst of providing outstanding new infrastructure that will go further to enhancing programming. In September we opened a new home for Queen’s School of Medicine, providing students and faculty with extraordinary facilities for medical education. The Queen’s School of Business Goodes Hall expansion is scheduled to open in the fall to accommodate increased enrollment and the subsequent output of world-class business leaders. Construction on the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts has only just begun and the Centre is scheduled to open early in 2014. In connection with all these projects, we thank our generous donors, and partners in the federal, provincial and municipal governments, for their support.
This year we welcomed Alan Harrison, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic), to Queen’s. Alan and his team have focused on introducing an integrated planning structure that ensures our academic and operational priorities work together to support the student learning experience. Working with the deans, the provost is developing a new activity-based budget model and updating the university’s campus master plan.
More than anything, Queen’s is about people – people of imagination and initiative who want to learn, discover, think and do. Some of my thoughts on who we are and what we should aspire to be are laid out in my recently released essay, “The Third Juncture”. I invite you to read it and consider Queen’s future for yourselves. I welcome your views on the document and the directions it outlines.
As I suggested in “The Third Juncture”,Queen’s remains a vital, and a great, university because it has, at certain critical points in its long history, been prepared to adapt and transform in the face of changing circumstances while preserving its core values. We rightly celebrate our past and we should use it to light our path ahead, but never allow it to become a heavy burden that impedes our progress.
In closing, I hope that the months ahead will provide all of us with time for reflection on the accomplishments I’ve highlighted here and the many more achieved by Queen’s people every day.
I wish you all a safe and enjoyable summer.
Professor Daniel Woolf
Principal and Vice-Chancellor