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Editor's notebook: "With a little help from friends"

Editor's notebook: "With a little help from friends"

With the launch of the $500-million Initiative Campaign, Queen's once more is looking to its best friends, especially alumni, for some crucial help.

I constantly marvel at how much life – and Queen’s – has changed in the 26 years I have been at the Review. The pace of events on campus and in the world has gone from jet speed to warp speed. And all of the “stuff” that happens every day is infinitely more complex. For better and worse, our planet is a much smaller (and warmer) place, the “marketplace” is global in every regard, and the explosion of knowledge and information continues apace. Paradoxically, innovation is one of the few constants.

Ali Vehski et al.Master of Ceremonies & CNN on-air personality Ali Velshi (left) posed with Chief Development Officer Tom Hewitt, Artsci'82, (centre) &  John Matheson, Arts'40, LLD'84, at the Sep. 29 launch of the Initiative Campaign.

Queen’s has been and remains one of Canada’s top universities, educating young men and women who are bright, engaged, and keen to make the world a better place. For many years these grads’ dedication has found expression in the way they generously support their alma mater. That, in turn, has been an inspiration to others to ‘befriend’ the University.

From 1978 to 1983, the University pursued its Queen’s Quest capital campaign, which raised $14 million against a goal of $10 million. In 1984, Queen’s launched ­another five-year capital campaign. The Queen’s Appeal had as its goal $25 million and brought in more than $40 million. The Queen’s Challenge campaign, which ran from 1991 to 1995, raised more than $100 million, and the Campaign for Queen’s, 1996-2003, more than $262 ­million.

Despite a growing demand for post-secondary education, in recent years the amount of government money allotted to Queen’s and its peer institutions in ­Ontario has been declining – both in ­percentages and real dollars. It’s not feasible to hike tuitions constantly, nor is the status quo an option for an academy of Queen’s maturity. Thus, with full-time ­enrolment now at 20,000, Queen’s is caught between the proverbial rock and hard place. It has no choice but to look again to its best friends, especially alumni, for some crucial help as we move forward.

As Principal Daniel Woolf underscores in his column in this issue, Queen’s is at a critical juncture in its history. Among the loyal and well-informed alumni who also recognize that reality is RBC President and CEO Gord Nixon, Com’79, LLD’03, one of this country’s busiest bankers and most influential ­business leaders, and so he has signed on to chair the momentous Initiative Campaign.

Nixon sat down recently with award-winning financial journalist Gordon Pitts, Arts’69, Ed’70, to explain why he’s “carrying the ball” for Queen’s. I found what Gord Nixon has to say both surprising and provocative; see if you don’t agree when you read the article for yourself, beginning on p. 24. Your response would be welcomed by all parties concerned with the Campaign. Please share it with us by emailing review@queensu.ca.

CORRECTION - Principal Daniel Woolf took part in Spring Convocation ceremonies that welcomed more than 4,000 new grads to the Queen’s alumni family (Quid Novi?, Issue #3). The Review incorrectly reported that he had hooded his 21-year-old son, Samuel, a Biology ­major. The Principal did not do so. That honour fell to Samuel’s mother, Jane ­Arscott, Artsci’81, PhD’93. The Review ­regrets the error.

CONGRATULATIONS Dr. Brinkley’s Tower (House of Anansi Press) the fourth novel by Toronto writer Robert Hough, Artsc’85, is one of the five finalists in the fiction category of the 2012 Governor General’s Literary Awards. (The winner was to be announced on Nov. 13, after the date this issue of the Review went to press.)

[Queen's Alumni Review 2012-4 cover]