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Board in brief

Highlights from the May 2-3, 2014 meeting of the Board of Trustees

Welcome from the chair

Chair Barb Palk welcomed new student leaders: Rector Mike Young, Alma Mater Society (AMS) President Allison Williams, and Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) President Kevin Wiener to the meeting. She noted that, on the recommendation of the Governance and Nominating Committee, the Board had approved the annual confirmation of the chair, vice-chairs and appointments to committees and other bodies during the closed session.

Principal’s strategic update

Principal Daniel Woolf noted that the provincial budget contains some items of benefit to universities, including $250 million for the Ontario Research Fund and a framework for regulations to enable the conversion of single employer pension plans to a jointly sponsored pension plan. However, an election was called for June 12 after the NDP indicated they would not support the budget. The principal expressed his hope that whichever party wins the current election will continue with these initiatives.

The principal reported on his 2013-14 goals, including:

  • Financial sustainability – progress has been made on cost containment and revenue diversification and the university continues to explore options to address the solvency deficit in the pension plan.
  • Fundraising – $71.3 million was raised in 2013-14, a record for the university. Not included in that total are pledges totaling $15 million for Richardson Stadium revitalization.
  • Research prominence – Queen’s continues to perform well in attracting research funding, ranking 12th in Canada, while 21st in terms of faculty size.
  • Internationalization – an external review of the international portfolio has been completed. Increasing international undergraduate enrolment is a key priority and internationalization is one of the four strategic drivers in the strategic framework.
  • Student learning experience – Queen’s is expanding academic paths and credentials, including a partnership with St. Lawrence College. The Classroom Survey of Student Experience has shown significant improvement after blended course redesigns in Arts and Science courses. Queen’s was selected to provide nearly 20 per cent of all courses in the Ontario Online Initiative.

Principal Woolf presented the strategic framework dashboard and noted that the Board will receive regular updates at its meetings. He cautioned that many of the metrics will not change from meeting to meeting, such as some student satisfaction surveys, which are conducted every two or three years.

Provost’s operational report

In addition to his written report, Provost Alan Harrison confirmed that the Strategic Mandate Agreement has now been signed.

Campaign progress report

Tom Harris, Vice-Principal (Advancement), reported that Queen’s raised a record $71.3 million in 2013-14. The fundraising campaign to raise $25 million for Richardson Stadium continues, with pledges totaling $15 million from Stu and Kim Lang and the Richardson Foundation. Consultations with the Kingston community including local neighbours will occur as the campaign and project move forward.

Strategic research update

Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research), reported that:

  • Queen’s had a success rate of 72 per cent in the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s Discovery Grant program and 24 per cent in the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s Insight Grant program, above the national average in both programs.
  • Five faculty members were celebrated through the university’s Prize for Excellence in Research.
  • Queen’s is finalizing submissions for the latest funding round of the Canadian Foundation for Innovation
  • The Government of Canada is expected to unveil its plans for the $1.5 billion Canada First Research Excellence Fund, as announced in the 2014 federal budget, in the summer or early fall

Report from Senate

Senator Iain Reeve updated trustees on Senate activities, including:

Faculty report

Kimberly Woodhouse, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, provided an overview of the faculty. Its 10 undergraduate programs attract more than 5,000 applications annually for 680 spaces. She noted the faculty’s focus on experiential learning and highlighted its 91 per cent graduation rate, the highest of any Canadian engineering program. The faculty also offers a number of graduate programs and boasts several leading research centres. The faculty has a number of initiatives that foster innovation, including the Queen’s Innovation Connector and the Queen’s Summer Innovation Initiative.

Student reports

Rector Mike Young thanked former rector Nick Francis for his support during the transition period. He noted student concerns around growing enrolment targets, the funding of student services and access to the residence system.

AMS President Allison Williams introduced her fellow AMS executives: Philip Lloyd, Vice-President (University Affairs) and Justin Reekie, Vice-President (Operations). She suggested that the higher education sector is at a crossroads and there is an increasing focus on “training.” She noted that expanding credentials and an increasing focus on learning outcomes are already happening at Queen’s.
The AMS hopes to work with partners across the university around enrolment and the jump to a financially sustainable university.

SGPS President Kevin Wiener addressed a number of items, including his concern about adequate funding to student services in the face of increasing enrolment and the need to ensure Queen’s continues to provide a quality student experience.

Committee Motions and Reports

The Board approved:

  • the new Major Capital Projects Approval Policy and Process, on the recommendation of the Queen’s University Planning Committee, also endorsed by the Capital Assets and Finance Committee (CAFC)
  • the residence fees for 2014-15 and 2015-16, on the recommendation of the CAFC
  • the 2014-15 student activity fees, on the recommendation of the CAFC
  • the university’s operating budget for 2014-15, on the recommendation of CAFC
  • an increase to the Reactor Materials Testing Laboratory capital project budget, on the recommendation of CAFC
  • amendments to bylaws respecting the duties of the chair, the terms of reference of committees, and electronic voting, on the recommendation of the Governance and Nominating Committee
  • the policy statements on Health & Safety and Environmental Management, on the recommendation of the Audit and Risk Committee

On May 3, the Board received reports from Investment Committee chair Don Raymond and Pension Committee Chair David Grace on committee activities over the past year.

Risk management

Caroline Davis, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration), provided an update on the risk management framework. The Board approved the revised strategic risk register.

Alignment of the strategic framework and the enterprise risk management framework

Provost Alan Harrison and Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration) Caroline Davis noted that the two frameworks are closely aligned and that the accomplishment of the strategic framework will help the university’s risk mitigation efforts.