Office of the Principal and Vice-Chancellor

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

Convocation - Spring 2016

Ceremony 19 – June 9, 2:30pm

Principal Woolf addresses the Class of 2016.


Thank you.

Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge our presence today on the traditional lands of the Haudenosaunee and the Anishinaabe peoples.

We should always remember this and honour those upon whose traditional lands we sit.

[Pause]
It is a great pleasure for me to welcome all of the special guests who are with us today – the family and friends of the graduating class, our faculty, staff and other distinguished guests – thank you for joining us. Merci d’être ici aujourd’hui.

I would also like to extend a warm welcome to our guest speaker, Dr. Pamela Dickey Young.

Finally – and most importantly - congratulations to the Class of 2016.

[Applause]

I think it’s fair to say that in the university’s 175-year history, you’ve just witnessed one of its greatest years.

Within the space of just a few months, we named the Stephen J. R. Smith School of Business following an unprecedented $50-million donation from alumnus Stephen Smith, Dr. Arthur McDonald received a Nobel Prize in physics, and Alfred and Isabel Bader gave a masterpiece by Rembrandt to our Agnes Etherington Art Centre.

More recently we named the Dan School of Drama and Music, and we celebrated the close of the university’s most ambitious fundraising campaign ever.

As we head into our anniversary celebrations, we will strive to keep that momentum going, and build upon the Queen’s that you know and love today.

[Pause]

Graduands, this ceremony marks an important milestone in your life.

You worked hard to get into Queen’s and even harder to get out.

Today we celebrate – not only the conferral of your degree – but the life you have built for yourself, all of the friendships you’ve developed at Queen’s and the sacrifices you made to get to this point.

I expect we will hear some great alumni stories about many of you in the near future, and I thank you for everything that you’ve contributed to our school and our community during your time here.

We are incredibly proud of you.

[Pause]

Now I know that, for some of you, this day might feel somewhat overwhelming.

But, I’d like to reassure you that you don’t need to have the rest of your life figured out, simply because you’re walking away with your degree in hand.

Indeed, in the years ahead, you will find yourself navigating your way through career opportunities and obstacles.

Those obstacles will steer you down paths you didn’t see coming; those opportunities will open your eyes to talents you don’t yet know you possess.

The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once said, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

When in the fullness of time, you look back on your career, all the dots will connect, even though you will almost certainly not be in the same place you’d imagined on this day.

Life is full of surprises, or as the late John Lennon put it, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”

Consequently, resilience and determination are as important as that degree – and if you commit yourself to life-long learning and don’t settle for less than that which you are capable of achieving, know that you will lead a successful and fulfilling life.

[Pause]

It has been a great pleasure to serve as the Principal of Queen’s University with you as students, but today I am also honoured to call you my fellow alumni.

I welcome you into this new adventure together, knowing that you will lift each other up in true Queen’s spirit to make the world a better place.

Merci et félicitations. Thank you and congratulations.