An overview of challenges – both local and global – facing Canadian universities

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The upcoming Presidents’ Panel at the Canadian University Boards Association (CUBA) Conference, hosted at Queen’s this year in May, will bring together four senior university leaders to discuss the myriad challenges, some local, others global, that face Canadian post-secondary institutions today. I, along with two other university presidents, one from another Ontario U15 institution, and one from a western, urban university, along with the vice-president of Universities Canada, will discuss the variety of issues that we have faced and that we anticipate will continue in the near future.

Some of the local issues are not new to universities – for instance, town-gown relations, especially at a time when university enrolment in Canada is at a peak. Others have to do with universities’ relations with governments, especially provincial governments, where the extent of provincial intrusion into the autonomy of university Boards, and to some degree Senates, Continue Reading »

One year later

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Just over a year ago, the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity and Inclusion (PICRDI) and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Task Force presented their final reports about how to make Queen’s a more inclusive, diverse and welcoming institution, and one that also values and reflects Indigenous histories and perspectives. Since then, many people across the institution have been working towards these goals and I’m pleased with the progress we have made so far.

This week, we released the one-year implementation reports for PICRDI and TRC and in the reports you will find very extensive updates on all of the initiatives and projects that have taken place. This first year has focused on building the foundation we need to guide long-term, sustainable change. Most notably, this includes expanding Deputy Provost Teri Shearer’s profile to cover our diversity and inclusion portfolio, Continue Reading »

A Community Effort – Creating conditions for a safer alcohol culture

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Guest blog by Cathy Edwards, Chair of the Greater Kingston Area Safe & Sober Community Alliance Post-Secondary Work Group

Community partners are working together to mitigate the impact of excessive drinking this coming weekend in an effort to keep both students and community members safe. The traditional celebration of St. Patrick’s Day has become synonymous with parades, parties, and all things green. A major part of the celebration is the drinking culture, with social norms and traditions around St. Patrick’s Day affecting how alcohol is viewed and how it is consumed.

While traditions can play a huge role in how, when, and why people drink, what else influences the culture of alcohol use in a community? There are a number of environmental conditions that play a role including how readily available and accessible alcohol is, alcohol advertising and promotion, Continue Reading »

Unveiling Queen’s forgotten Black History

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I asked Edward Thomas, Sc’06, MASc’12, to write a guest blog about Black History Month at Queen’s focusing on the research he’s conducted over this past year around one of the most shameful events in our university’s history: the expulsion of black medical students in 1918.

I am both fascinated and saddened by what he has uncovered, and hope to work with Edward and others to acknowledge these very troubling events in our history, the legacies of the students we abandoned and make some kind of amends.

Many thanks to Edward for his research and lending his expertise to this post.

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The roots of Black History Month date to the 1920s. The American scholar Carter G. Woodson, PhD., understood how the stories a society tells itself can either expand or limit its sense of what’s possible. Continue Reading »

Informed respectful debate is central to academia

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The principles of academic freedom, expressed through thoughtful, informed and respectful investigation, are a central tenet of the values Queen’s holds, and which it strives to instill in our students.

Far too often universities, and university academics, have been attacked by increasingly polarized interest groups seeking to stifle thoughtful or respectful examinations of opposing ideas. Hate speech aside, failing to explore or confront ideas with which we disagree through disciplined and respectful dialogue, debate and argument, does society a disservice, weakens our intellectual integrity, and threatens the very core of what Queen’s, and any university, should be about.

Throughout my tenure as Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Queen’s has advanced the values of diversity and inclusion, and it remains a predominant focus of my own work. I believe that everyone within the university community should feel able to explore and debate diverse and even uncomfortable viewpoints if that occurs in a respectful academic environment. Continue Reading »