Until the early 1990s, a variety of Queen's departments - Residences, Athletics, Health Services, to name a few - catered mainly to students, but for the most part acted independently. While there was high-level administrative responsibility for these departments, little recognition was given to Student Affairs, per se. Overseeing the range of non-academic student services that weren't managed by Queen's student government, the Alma Mater Society (AMS) , was largely done in an ad hoc way.
That changed in the mid-1990s, when Principal William Leggett reorganized Queen's executive branch. One of the changes was the resurrection of the Dean of Student Affairs, a position that explicitly acknowledged the value Queen's places on extracurricular student life at the university. The Dean of Women position was discontinued in 1996 and replaced with the broader mandate of the newly created post of University Advisor on Equity.
Queen's first official Dean of Student Affairs had been Stewart Webster, a Queen's history professor who held the post between 1966 and 1973. After that office was disbanded, no single individual was specifically responsible for student life.
In the fall of 1995, Dr. Robert Crawford, a professor of computer science who had spent ten years as Associate Dean (Studies) in the Faculty of Arts & Science, was appointed to the revived Student Affairs position. At the time, Dr. Crawford was Acting Director at Queen's (now "Bader") International Study Centre at Herstmonceux Castle in England.
Dr. Crawford and his two-person staff became responsible for a large and diverse portfolio of departments that logically fell under the Student Affairs umbrella. These included Residences; Food Services; Apartments and Housing; Health, Counselling and Disability Services; Athletics and Recreation; the John Deutsch University Centre; Career Services; the Queen's University International Centre; the Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre; the Ban Righ Centre; the Chaplain; Town-Gown Relations; and the campus radio station, CFRC.
In addition to allocating the budgets for the departmental units, Dr. Crawford also carried some responsibility for Queen's annual events such as Orientation Week and Homecoming. A major part of his role was regular interaction with student leaders, most notably the AMS and SGPS presidents, given the responsibilities that those organizations have in the lives of Queen's students.
Dr. Crawford oversaw some significant physical changes on campus during his Deanship. One was the renovation of the Physical Education Centre in 1997. In that project, to create more space for exercise and research in the ageing facility, a lower floor was reconstructed to create two new floors, the so-called Lower and Upper Decks. Other major Student Affairs capital projects included the building of two new residences at the south end of the campus, Leggett Hall and Watts Hall, and the renovation and expansion of the dining area in Leonard Hall.
The demolition of buildings on Queen's Crescent resulted in several moves: the Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre opened on Clergy Street (and moved later to a house on Barrie Street). Health, Counselling & Disability Services moved to the LaSalle Building. Career Services moved to temporary quarters in Macgillivray-Brown Hall on Barrie Street. It has since relocated to its current headquarters on the third floor of Gordon Hall.
Dr. Crawford stepped down from the Dean's role in 2005. His successor during a one-year acting stint was Dr. Janice Deakin, the head of the School of Physical and Health Education (now the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies). Dr. Jason Laker, was appointed on July 1, 2006 and served as the Dean until he stepped down in the summer of 2010. Dr. John Pierce acted as the Interim Associate Vice-Principal & Dean of Student Affairs until Ann Tierney was appointed to the role in July 2011.
Student Affairs Deans:
- Dr. W. Stewart Webster
- Dr. Robert Crawford
- Dr. Janice Deakin
- Dr. Jason Laker
- Dr. John Pierce
- Ann Tierney