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Editor's Notebook -- Happy returns?

Editor's Notebook -- Happy returns?

Preparations are underway here at Queen's for the start of another academic year and for the trial return after a four-year hiatus of the beloved tradition of a fall Homecoming.

Here at Queen’s, preparations are ­underway for the start of another academic year. The campus soon will once again pulsate with youthful energy as the Class of 2017 begins arriving. Most frosh, who are 17 or 18 years old, were born in the twilight of the 20th century. To them, the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001, the iPhone, 3-D movies, Wayne Gretzky, and most other cultural touchstones of the past two decades are ancient history. That’s a sobering realization to an old ­fogey like me, a 1970s grad.

Also on the horizon is the return, on a trial basis, of fall Homecoming. Then-Principal Tom Williams made the decision in 2009 to suspend the annual ­celebration for two years out of concern about safety, deteriorating town-gown ­relations, and damage to the University’s reputation, ­nationally – and perhaps even globally – caused by rowdy behaviour and alcohol abuse on the part of some students and ­uninvited party crashers. The trouble ­occurred on the Homecoming’08 weekend. William’s decision was subsequently endorsed and the suspension ­extended by his successor, Daniel Woolf.

Homecong Weekend alumni paradeThe alumni parade around the track at Richardson Stadium at half-time in the Gael's football game is always a highlight of the weekend. (Review file photo)

However, after extensive discussion with internal and community partners, Woolf has announced that Homecoming will be reinstated as a pilot project making it clear that student and alumni safety are paramount. For logistical reasons, Homecoming, with its increasingly large class ­reunions, will be spread over two ­weekends, Oct. 4-6, and Oct. 18-20.

Staff in Alumni Relations, report that more than 89 classes and groups have indicated they will be “coming home” in October. Preparations are on track on campus and in the broader Kingston community; more than 100 special events are planned, and scores of student volunteers are being recruited to help run events.

“We’re all really looking forward to Homecoming’13,” says Sarah Indewey, Artsci’01, the Manager of Volunteer ­Relations and Reunions. “Many alumni have told us how keen they are to see the revival of a much-loved fall tradition that has really been missed the last four years.”

If all goes as well as we hope this year, the autumn Homecoming will be re-established on a permanent basis.

CONGRATULATIONS TO ... Prof. John Smol, PhD’82 (Biology), Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change, who recently earned two more major honours.

In June, he was named an Officer of the Order of Canada, and in July he received the Weston Family Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Northern Research, which is awarded by the W. Garfield Weston Foundation. Smol is widely recognized as one of the world’s foremost experts on long-term changes to lakes and rivers and short-term changes to arctic wildlife habitat, and made profound contributions to identifying environmental change due to human and natural forces. He has also travelled to 10 countries in the past year giving lectures, teaching, and ­doing research.

The next issue of the Review will feature an article by Smol in which he relates his ­experiences as an academic visitor to China – especially while delivering lectures, including a series there as an Einstein ­Professor – a distinction awarded every year to just 20 researchers around the world by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

CORRECTION ... An article about the ­retirement of Arts and Science Dean ­Alistair MacLean, MA’67, PhD’69, in Issue #2-2013 (“He plans to catch up on sleep … no, really!”, p. 13) reported inaccurate and misleading information about the Dean’s family history. In fact, he and his wife ­Helen (Seth) MacLean, MA’69, met in grad school at Queen’s, and they married in 1967. They have three children (Roderick, Artsci’93, MA’95; Joanna, and Janet) and three grandchildren (Tess MacLean and Kala and Rylie Crawford). The Review regrets and sincerely apologizes for any embarrassment or hurt its error has caused. – K.C. 

[Queen's Alumni Review 2013-3 cover]