Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Connecting in a time of physical distancing

Office of Advancement hosts a town hall featuring Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane and Special Advisor to the Principal on Planning and Preparation for COVID-19 David Walker.

The Office of Advancement at Queen’s University hosted a special online town hall on Wednesday afternoon, featuring Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane and David Walker (Meds’71), Special Advisor to the Principal on Planning and Preparation for COVID-19.

The town hall, moderated by Vice-Principal (Advancement) Karen Bertrand (Artsci’94), reached out to Queen’s alumni, offering them the opportunity to question the university administration on the ongoing response to the pandemic as well as the direction moving ahead. More than 250 people participated in the live town hall.

Following brief introductory remarks, Vice-Principal Bertrand opened the floor to questions, some sent in advance and others sent through the Zoom platform. Queries ranged from the university’s expectations and plans for the 2020-21 academic year to how Queen’s is cooperating with postsecondary institutions around the province and across the country. Other questions dealt with the financial implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as whether or not Queen’s will be able to maintain its traditions and community spirit.

“This online town hall was a great opportunity to connect with alumni, who are such an important part of the Queen’s community, during a time of physical distancing,” says Vice-Principal Bertrand. “Principal Deane and Dr. Walker provided a valuable update on the university’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and how Queen’s is playing an important role at the local, provincial and national levels.”

Principal Deane explained that he has been particularly impressed by how quickly collaborations have formed with community partners and fellow postsecondary institutions, adding that he will work toward maintaining these connections once we move into the post-pandemic phase.

“In the months before the coronavirus hit we’ve had some extremely positive discussions on campus about the role of Queen’s in our community, and one of the things that I would say about the crisis is that it has deepened those connections,” says Principal Deane. “It’s important for us to think about where we will be when we come out of the other end of this crisis and I hope that what we remember is how important it is to maintain all of those positive connections between the university, the city, social agencies, everybody who is interested in making the quality of life in Kingston as good as it can be.”

Having chaired Ontario’s Expert Panel on SARS and Infectious Disease Control in 2003, Dr. Walker was asked to compare the two outbreaks. He pointed to the university’s steps to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Queen’s administration quickly worked to depopulate the campus in response to the spread of the coronavirus and continues to help frontline healthcare workers through donations of personal protection equipment (PPE) and providing living space at the Donald Gordon Centre, Dr. Walker pointed out.

Visit the Queen’s Alumni website for more articles highlighting how Queen’s alumni are contributing to the effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.