Office of the Principal and Vice-Chancellor

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

Whig Standard Opinion Piece

Setting goals, priorities for new academic year

Tuesday September 30, 2014

Whether or not you choose to set them for yourself, there is a universal truth about goals: if you don't have them, you can't reach them. From aspiring to lose a few pounds or break a bad habit, to running a marathon or getting a degree, personal goals help us focus our attention and map out where we need to go next in order to get what we want.

Goal setting is just as important for us at Queen's -- particularly in a challenging fiscal environment. Rather than sending our energy out in too many directions, I find it a useful exercise to start the academic year by laying out some priorities that align with what we want to achieve in the long term.

Of course, it's not as if I start from scratch every year. Since becoming principal in 2009, my administration and I have worked hard to chart a course that we feel will move our institution in a direction that will best serve the needs of our community in the years to come.

In launching the university's Strategic Framework document earlier this year, we set out to formalize some of our goals and strategies and guide our decision-making from now through to 2019. In broad strokes, our primary goal will remain relatively status quo throughout that period: to advance Queen's as a university that uniquely combines quality and intensity of research with excellence in undergraduate and graduate education.

Within that larger goal are four sub-areas of focus that we have identified as "strategic drivers" -- areas that we feel will be key to ensuring the university's success in the future: the student learning experience, research prominence, financial sustainability and internationalization.

Unsurprisingly, most of my goals for this academic year can be grouped into each of those four categories. This year, I intend to focus my attention on strengthening the student learning experience, by which I mean focusing attention on developing opportunities to strengthen our students' academic skills while providing them with more opportunities to help them effectively prepare for the future -- particularly through increasing the number of opportunities for expanded credentials, and experiential or entrepreneurial learning, both on and off campus. We will also focus on finding further ways to integrate technology into the delivery of course content where it improves learning.

Queen's is already recognized as one of the country's leading research institutions, but that doesn't mean we can rest on our laurels. This year will see us working hard to maintain that status, from striving for recognition through awards to supporting the development and engagement of our faculty members as outlined in our Strategic Research Plan. That said, without a stable source of revenue, those goals will be harder to reach. That is why my attention this year will also be focused on ensuring we secure financial sustainability for Queen's, which includes everything from diversifying our revenue steams to meeting our $60 million annual fundraising campaign goal.

I have also prioritized raising the university's international profile. That's because as global competition increases over the next decade, it will not be sufficient simply to be known in one's own country. That's why I want us to focus on building our reputation around the world, while working to attract more international students -- all of whom bring a diversity of perspective and experience -- to Queen's and to our city.

Finally, our success as a university depends on our people. That's why I've made promoting and developing talent my fifth goal, from encouraging discussion around faculty renewal and succession planning to refining our hiring practices so that we attract -- and retain -- the best people. Working together I am confident Queen's will continue to thrive well into the future.

Daniel Woolf is principal and vice-chancellor of Queen's University.