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Reasons to celebrate

Reasons to celebrate

Summer is a time of celebration on campus and also a time for planning for the new school year. Even though I have been out of school for a few years (to some, quite a few years), I still find summer a time to look forward, plan, and anticipate a fresh start.

I had the privilege of attending Spring convocation ceremonies and welcoming members of the Class of 2013 to the Queen’s University Alumni Association. Convocation is a time of celebration, hope, and some trepidation. I trust our newest graduates were as inspired as I was by the addresses given by the honorary degree recipients I heard speak – Wilf Wilkinson, a past President of Rotary International, and Glenn Close, the actor and mental health advocate. I’m proud to think that such ­people, who work to make the world a ­better place, have become honorary members of the Queen’s family.

Members of the Class of 2013, know that your Queen’s journey hasn’t ended at convocation: your Queen’s network just got a lot bigger. We now have more than 140,000 alumni in 157 countries. Don’t ­hesitate to use your networks: reach out to your local Branches of the QUAA, the ­volunteers of the Association itself, and other alumni as you begin the next chapter of your lives.

The QUAA Board met in May to plan, with our staff partners, for the year ahead. Our key priorities for this year are:

  • Engagement of current alumni
  • Engagement of future alumni (current ­students
  •  Connecting with alumni where they are
  • Promoting the culture of alumni ­philanthropy and volunteerism

I’ll talk about our first and fourth priorities in this issue. There are many ways the QUAA works to engage alumni, from Branch and campus events, to affinity ­partnerships for discounts and benefits, and most topically, with the return of a ­revitalized Homecoming. We haven’t had a fall Homecoming since 2008, when the event was suspended due to safety concerns. Our vision is to reclaim Homecoming as an event for our alumni celebrating milestone reunions, and a safe and ­respectful celebration of community.

This year, programing has been expanded to provide more a diverse and ­inclusive event than in the past. As well as ­facilitating the official reunion activities of Queen’s alumni, Homecoming 2013 will bring together alumni and students, as well as the Queen’s and Kingston communities, with a variety of campus and community activities.

On October 4-6 we invite back classes and groups celebrating their 5th, 15th, 25th, 35th, or 45th anniversary. On October 18-20, we will welcome 10th, 20th, 30th, 40th, and 50+ anniversary groups. We look forward to feedback on the two-weekend model, and the opportunity to develop and expand an inclusive Homecoming in future years.

As Board volunteers, we support and promote a culture of alumni philanthropy and volunteerism. Through our work with our Annual Giving staff partners, and participation in several Campaign Cabinets, we promote philanthropy for Queen’s. I’d like to thank my fellow Board members for ­rising to a challenge that I issued at the ­beginning of May.

In fewer than 12 hours, we had 100 per cent participation in the Queen’s Annual Giving program. I encourage members of University Council, Board of Trustees, Branches, and all alumni to feel free to meet the challenge of 100 per cent participation in Annual ­Giving. As a wise Board member, Tim Turnbull, Artsci’79, said to me, “Give, not ’til it hurts, but until it feels good.” All of us, as alumni, have something to offer – whether it is “time, talent, or treasure” – to our alma mater.

Soon the leaves will turn colour, and students will return to campus – among them the Class of 2017 – for the start of a new academic year. I wish you a wonderful end to your summer and a fresh start for your autumn, even if you won’t be ­attending classes. I look forward to seeing you at a Branch event or at Homecoming if your year is celebrating a milestone ­reunion. Cha gheill!

Next issue, I’ll update you on our priorities to engage future alumni and current alumni, wherever they may be, with some information on exciting new programs.

[Queen's Alumni Review 2013-3 cover]