Office of the Principal and Vice-Chancellor

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

Fall convocation and installation of Chancellor Jim Leech 

Remarks made at the first convocation ceremony of the fall session and the installation ceremony for Chancellor Jim Leech

Where: Grant Hall 
When: November 18, 2014

Check against delivery.


Principal and Vice-Chancellor’s Welcome: 

  • Welcome to everyone this morning: to parents, siblings, children and friends of our graduating class, as well as to staff, faculty and other distinguished guests. Bienvenue at tous ce matin.
  • I am Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University.
  • I want to begin by acknowledging our presence today on the traditional lands of the Haudenosaunee and the Anishinaabe peoples. We should always remember and honour the history of the land we live on.
  • I would also like to extend a very warm welcome to honorary degree recipient, Dr. Shaf Keshavjee….a thoracic surgeon and director of the Toronto Lung Transplant Program.
  • Most of all, I would like to welcome and congratulate the class of 2014.
  • This morning’s ceremony will not only celebrate your accomplishments; It will also formally mark the installation of Queen’s University’s 14th Chancellor.
  • I now invite Jennifer Medves, Vice-Chair of the University Senate and a member of University Council, to address convocation. 

Principal's Address:

  • Good morning. While I have attended a great many convocation ceremonies since becoming the principal of Queen’s in 2009, today marks my first time attending the installation ceremony for a new Queen’s Chancellor. It is remarkable to think that in our 173-year history, that is only the 14th time that has ever happened. I think we’ve got a special one in Chancellor Leech. Even before he stepped into his role he was flying the Queen’s flag at his cottage and faithfully dressing his grandchildren in Queen’s University T-shirts. We are fortunate to have such a champion for Queen’s in our highest office.
  • I know the entire Queen’s community will benefit from chancellor Leech’s extensive experience in everything from managing pension plans… to traipsing to the magnetic north pole on skis… just one of his recent adventures.
  • But today isn’t just about our new chancellor. Today is about marking your accomplishments as you graduate from being Queen’s students to being Queen’s alumni. We do that by honouring ritual and tradition.
  • For example, while university students no longer wear academic dress to class, the robes you are wearing this morning tie you to scholars of the past… when a university faculty would have been made up of men of religion who would have worn the habit of their Order while teaching. In time, their robes became the garb of higher education. In fact, until the 1930s, many Canadian universities still prescribed academic robes for their professors and students at classes and lectures. This will date me, but the first professor I ever laid eyes on in my first year English class here at Queen’s in 1976 wore a gown to class routinely. How things have changed!
  • While they are still in use from time to time at some more traditional universities…these days the sight of a group of student in robes likely conjures up images of a certain fictional school for wizards…though I don’t suppose they would be entirely out of place in the Harry Potter room here on campus!
  • Grant Hall – this room in which we are gathered – is also steeped in history. Since it was built in 1905, this space has been used for concerts and exams, dances and public lectures. It was used as a military hospital during the First World War.  And it is the space where generations of people – myself included –have made the transition from being Queen’s students…to being Queen’s alumni, except for a few decades when we observed these ceremonies in the now vanished Jock Harty Arena.
  • Back in 1841 – the first year that Queen’s was in existence -- you could have fit the entire entering class on the front row of this stage. Back then “Queen’s College at Kingston” was a tiny college for the training of Presbyterian ministers. The college was housed in a small, wood-frame house on the edge of the city. There were two professors and thirteen students. Well, things have changed!
  • Today you join a close-knit community of alumni that now numbers almost 145-thousand. And as a graduate of the class of 1980, I am proud to count myself among you.
  • You’ll find Queen’s alumni everywhere – from Calgary to China, from Jamaica to Japan – making a difference in the world wherever they are. In fact, there are currently Queen’s Alumni in 154 countries worldwide. They – like you –are people who want to push the limits of what can be achieved…people who dare to imagine what the future could be, and are ready to work together to realize it. Around here we call it the Spirit of Initiative.
  • Graduates – you worked hard to get into Queen’s… and you also worked hard to get out!
  • I know it probably wasn’t always easy...and I’m sure you had days when you wondered just what you were doing it for. But let me assure you that your time has been well-spent.
  • Because you have not only been expanding your own knowledge – you have also been developing your critical thinking skills while learning how to juggle assignments, execute projects and see things through. These are very valuable and versatile skills!
  • No matter what you want to do next, I know your Queen’s degree will help you open doors. And as you go through them, I hope you will stay in touch with your university. 
  • Two years from now – in 2016 – we will mark Queen’s University’s 175th anniversary. We will be reaching out to you, as alumni, as our planning progresses. Stay tuned for how you can get involved in the celebrating.
  • Congratulations, again, to the class of 2014! We are all very glad you made the decision to come to Queen’s. Thank you for contributing to the life and well-being of this university – and good luck with everything the future holds.
  • Thank you… and Godspeed!