Professor Tom Courchene retired in June 2012, twenty-five years following his arrival at Queen’s University as the Stauffer-Dunning Chair in Public Policy and the first director of the new School of Policy Studies. At that time and for the next few years, the School’s mandate focused on research and conference programming--with only Tom and two others, Art Stewart and Sharon Alton, constituting the whole of the School.
Since then, the School has expanded in both its mandate and resources to become a leading national institution for graduate education, research and service in two professional fields—public policy and industrial relations. It offers six degree programs, with full-time and part-time degree programs in Public Administration and Industrial Relations, and joint degree programs with Law in both fields. Core faculty members now number 14, supplemented with over 30 adjunct faculty. Student enrolment has increased to over 230 across all programs; degree and conference program staff has increased to 11. The School maintains a Publications Unit, supporting the “Queen’s Policy Series,” and is also the umbrella for four research units, the Centre for the Study of Democracy and Diversity, the Centre for International and Defence Policy, the Institute for Intergovernmental Relations, and Queen’s Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy. It also includes the IRC (Industrial Relations Centre) which offers professional development courses in labour relations, human resource management and organizational development at centres across Canada and off-shore.
Tom served as director of the School of Policy Studies for five years and was then appointed to the Jarislowsky-Deutsch Chair of Economic and Financial Policy. He subsequently served as director of the John Deutsch Institute for the Study of Economic Policy (1993-99, 2001-02), organizing 15 conferences and publishing 15 volumes, while also increasing the Institute’s endowment. He also served as director of the Institute of the Institute of Intergovernmental Relations (2006-09), producing several conferences and publications, with associate director John Allan.
At a recent dinner attended by members of the Department of Economics and the School of Policy Studies, Tom and others shared their reflections on the unique quality of Queen’s policy community. Tom recalled that he came to Queen’s because he was looking for a more policy-oriented university and that “meant Queen’s and only Queen’s… Once here, my research began to focus much more on political economy, public policy, federalism and social policy.” His scholarship was stimulated by the rich community of policy-focused colleagues in the Economics and Political Studies Departments as well as the School of Policy Studies. In this fertile field, others acknowledged the exceptional role that Queen’s has played in national debates on some of the most important issues of our time and acknowledged Tom’s leadership in Canadian public policy over several decades.
Tom’s scholarly contributions to Canadian public policy was formally recognized at a conference and banquet, held on Friday, October 26thand Saturday October 27th, 2012. The conference explored a variety of themes including macro-economic policy, social policy, federalism, international monetary policy, energy and climate change, areas in which Tom has worked. The program is available at: http://www.queensu.ca/sps/events/conferencesandworkshops/TChourcheneConference.html
A lasting tribute is the Thomas J. Courchene Lecture Series in Public Policy, recently established through the generosity of Tom and Margie Courchene. It will benefit future generations of economics and public policy students and faculty and many other as well. Donations are welcome.