Dean Barbara Crow

Dean Barbara Crow

Dean Barbara Crow sets a path for the Faculty of Arts and Science

Faculty of Arts and Science Dean Barbara Crow has been reappointed for a second term effective July 1. After the recent announcement, Dean Crow discussed what the next three years would look like and reflected on her accomplishments in her first term.

One of her first major projects as the new Dean was to launch the FAS Strategic Plan which happened in 2019 and aligns with the university’s strategic goals. With the reappointment, she is excited by the opportunity to see the planned initiatives through to the finish in 2024.

“We have put such significant time and energy into this plan and we want to see it through to the end, and look forward to seeing it completed successfully,” says Dean Crow. “The FAS Strategic Plan has significantly contributed to the University’s goals, and it is critical we finish this important work.”

Since the launch of the Strategic Plan 2019-2024 and the publication of last year’s Annual Review, FAS has made significant progress on the planned strategic initiatives, reflecting the common vision and guiding principles.  Out of 50 planned initiatives, 21 initiatives have been completed and the other 29 are in progress or ongoing. It is an impressive accomplishment to have completed 42 per cent of the initiatives within the first three years of the five-year plan. This achievement is even more inspiring since many of us have been working remotely due to the pandemic.

Any discussion around Dean Crow’s term also must include difficult conversations about the impact of the pandemic. FAS was only six months into its Strategic Plan when the university essentially shut down to in-person activities in the middle of March 2020. 

“We had to make so many decisions and think about so many items,” she says. “We were caught up in the day to day, but we also had to think about moving forward. As the weeks went on it was less about ‘’the wheels have fallen off’ but rather how to we get them back on and come back as an even better and stronger faculty. I want us to be seen as a university that had a part in shaping the future, not just responding to it.”

Dean Crow says the past two years were “definitely not normal”, but she was very intentional about caring for, thanking, and acknowledging her team and all faculty, staff, and students for responding in such a positive way to an unprecedented challenge. Dean Crow often noted to her team they were responsible for over 1,000 families.

“The number one item we learned is how important communication is. We continue to need to provide clarity and transparency and simple communications. The second item we learned was how important it is to stay connected during a crisis, how much our community wanted to be connected, and wanted those communications to reassure them and keep them informed.”

Dean Crow says COVID required everyone to rethink the channels of communication and pointed to the success of virtual town halls and how they helped keep FAS strong. She adds those will continue be used as we recover and get settled into our new normal. “We must be intentional about our post-COVID recovery. The pandemic provided us with some opportunities, but it also created challenges particularly around mental health. We must continue to support our people.”

Anyone who has worked with Dean Crow even for a short amount of time will quickly realize how dedicated she is to students. She reflected on what they have endured, what it could mean for them moving forward, and how FAS will support them in the coming months and years.

“For the group of young people coming out of high school to Queen’s or those currently in university, it was a trying time for them. So many of their rituals have been taken away, so many social opportunities missed. What is that going to mean for them later? We need to be understanding, compassionate, and support them any way we can.”

With an eye on supporting those students, Dean Crow is very focused on experiential learning. This is one reason she created the Dean’s Changemaker Challenge – to bring unique, hands-on and entrepreneurial experiences to students.  “Times have changed, and students want to know what they can do with their degrees, students want to know what options are open to them and experiential learning helps provide that.”

So, what’s next? What do the next three years look like? What are Dean Crow’s plans moving forward?

“I remain focused on supporting our people. That means a continued commitment to the student experience and increasing our ties to experiential learning. Also, we will be supporting our staff, and faculty. In particular, our junior faculty, who will be our leaders in the years to come within the university. We have a tremendous program First Year to First Sabbatical assisting our junior faculty navigate the various and unique challenges of working at Queen’s. Many of our junior faculty had challenges with their research under the Covid restrictions and we are focused on helping them move their research forward now as we are back on campus and the world has opened up again.

“For both students and faculty our efforts in fundraising are so important and I am committing time and attention to working with our professionals in advancement at the university to meet with our donors and alumni, and to reach out beyond our borders to build engagement with our global partners. This work is critical as we see that long standing traditional sources of revenue related to enrolment is not keeping pace and we need to find other sources. We also need to diversify our support for research funding beyond the tri-council to support our talented faculty and to achieve and support our academic ambitions.”

“I have also been really intentional about and committed to succession planning,” says Dean Crow. “I have been involved in many leadership initiatives within FAS and within the university. I have provided many professional development opportunities for the people I work with so perhaps someone internal might be interested in applying for my position once my term is finished. There are several people on my team that could step right in and do an excellent job.”

Dean Crow’s reappointment is for a term of three years ending June 30, 2025 at which time she will retire and focus on her research. Her research interests lie in the areas of feminism, aging, and technology, the ways in which they intersect, and specifically the various impacts of digital technology.

To learn more about Dean Crow visit the Meet the Dean webpage.