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From the principal: Marking our 175th

From the principal: Marking our 175th

[From the desk of the Principal]
From the desk of the Principal

I recently had the pleasure of meeting an alumna named Sheila Moll, Arts’67, who turns out to be the great-granddaughter of the Rev. William Snodgrass, Queen’s sixth principal from 1864–1877. During his tenure, Queen’s College, as it then was, turned 25. It was a troubled time, financially, and the odds against the little school seeing 50, never mind 100, seemed pretty high. But Snodgrass’s principalship kept Queen’s afloat, admitted women as students, and helped stabilize the finances, all while fending off takeover bids from larger Ontario institutions.

This paved the way for George Monro Grant’s decisive and transformative quarter-century leadership of Queen’s. Despite the challenges of two world wars, depression, and massive demographic and social change, we’ve not looked backward since – other than in appreciation of our traditions and in gratitude to those early generations of professors, students, and alumni who shared the vision of the original founders in the 1840s, and who dared an even bolder one leading into the 20th century.

The encounter with Mrs. Moll and some memorabilia of her great-grandfather’s time got me thinking, in my historian’s way, about all the changes that have unfolded between that earlier time and the present. If either Snodgrass or Grant were alive today they would not recognize Queen’s.

[175th anniversary logo]

  • The little liberal arts and theology school, having added engineering and medicine early on, is about 20 times the size it was when Grant died in 1902.
  • We occupy an enormous footprint in central Kingston.
  • We teach business, a variety of health professions, law, an enormous range of humanities and social sciences subjects, education.
  • We have a much more diverse faculty and student body that welcomes those of any faith, ethnic background or sexual orientation.
  • Our graduates are prominent in boardrooms and public-sector decision centres throughout Canada and around the globe; they are educators, nurses, doctors, engineers, bankers, community organizers, social workers, lawyers, judges, scientists, performing artists, and entrepreneurs.
  • An exemplary and dedicated non-academic staff, many of whom serve in excess of 40 years, keep our campus beautiful and its administrative wheels on their tracks.
  • We are a research-intensive university with internationally renowned faculty who earn major awards such as, most recently, the Molson Prize and the Nobel Prize.
  • In November we hosted the annual general meeting of the Royal Society of Canada, the country’s premier body recognizing scholarly achievement, and one of which Grant himself was once the president.

Other things have not changed:

  • the value of community both on campus and outside, when alumni meet
  • our alumni’s generous support, which recently pushed us to the spectacular success of the Initiative Campaign, and
  • the sense that we can always do better.
[Daniel Woolf]
(Photo by Tim Forbes)

As we enter our eighth quarter-century, challenges remain. In the coming months, senior administration will be working closely with our governance bodies, Senate, Board, and Council, and with our student leaders, to develop strategies to replenish our faculty ranks, increase our research performance, and position Queen’s for the future. We will be making strategic investments in areas of strength, nurturing promising new fields of inquiry, and revitalizing our long-standing reputation as a university in the arena of public policy. And we will continue to make improvements in our pedagogy and our programming to make sure our students are prepared to thrive in a world that has changed remarkably in the past decade alone and continues to evolve in ways that cannot be predicted.

Happy 175h birthday, Queen’s. Now, onward to 200.

Cha Gheill!

[cover graphic of Queen's Alumni Review, issue 4-2016]