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Getting a first look at Queen's

Garfield Dunlop, Critic for Training, Colleges and Universities for the Progressive Conservatives and MPP for the riding of Simcoe North, visited Queen’s on Tuesday, April 14, and received a tour of the university. During his visit he spoke with administration and students to gain a better understanding of the university, including recent developments to improve the learning experience such as the active learning classrooms and the increasing focus on innovation and entrepreneurship. Gazette editor Andrew Carroll spoke to Mr. Dunlop about his visit.

[Garfield Dunlop]
Garfield Dunlop, MPP for the riding of Simcoe North and Critic for Training, Colleges and Universities for the Progressive Conservatives, visited Queen’s University on Tuesday. (University Communications)
 

Andrew Carroll: In your role as Critic for Training, Colleges and Universities, what do you see as the biggest challenges for Ontario’s universities today and moving forward?

Garfield Dunlop: I think the rapidly changing world. We have to make sure that our universities are properly funded and that’s a challenge for the government and the private sector and for the universities themselves to meet the demands that will be put on them in the changing world ahead, such as, in particular, the electronic world. We’ve seen examples of that today where Queen’s has moved in a very forward-thinking way with their classrooms, their innovative new ideas. So making sure that they don’t get caught in a rut where there’s no money and there’s no resources for them to move ahead. It’s kind of a partnership that everybody has to share in but universities are the future of our country.

AC: What do you see as the strengths of Ontario’s universities, in particular Queen’s?

GD: I come from central Ontario and even there the general feeling is that if you have gone to Queen’s you’ve got a really good opportunity for finding a good job down the road. It’s a university that is really appreciated by almost all Ontarians. They’ve done it right for almost 175 years, they don’t need anybody to come in and to do a rapid change to what is happening here. Just make sure this is properly funded for the future and it will continue it churn out good citizens and good taxpayers for Ontario and, for a lot of cases, for the rest of the world.

AC: While it has only been a brief visit, what are you taking away from your time at Queen’s?

GD: I think first of all there is a real sense of community here. I see the students are friendly, nice, wanting to share their experiences in some of the discussions we had. The administration took a lot of time to be with me and explained to me the challenges they face – government challenges, red tape, and things that they don’t really need. So I think that overall I learned an awful lot. As a critic I have to get out and learn what each university is about and what they specialize in and, after today, I think I can say a lot of positive things about Queen’s University.

AC: Do you have any advice for current graduates and for those of the future?

GD: I think graduates of this university have a great opportunity for good job placements, whether it’s in Kingston, in Ontario, in Canada or whether it’s international. There certainly is a number of international-national connections made here at Queen’s. So the advice from me would be to share the story about Queen’s. For example, I told my own granddaughter, who wants to be a doctor, about Queen’s medical school. We have a Queen’s graduate living in Orillia who is a pediatrician and is a great example of what can be accomplished. I pointed out to her that the doctor is a graduate of Queen’s and through the university she has had the opportunity to travel around the world and work and she now has come back with new skills and perspectives to contribute to the community. 

This interview has been edited and condensed.