Honouring the legacy of Principal Emeritus Daniel Woolf

Honouring the legacy of Principal Emeritus Daniel Woolf

From leading one of the most successful fundraising campaigns to making key financial reforms, Principal Emeritus Woolf left his mark on the university he led for a decade. 

February 17, 2023


Principal Emeritus Daniel Woolf holds up a plaque
Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane, left, presents a drawing to Principal Emeritus Daniel Woolf (Artsci’80), and his wife Julie Gordon-Woolf (MScHQ’15), during a ceremony in Stauffer Library.

The Queen’s community came together to celebrate the legacy of its 20th principal, Daniel Woolf (Artsci’80), in a ceremony at Stauffer Library on Feb. 10. The main floor of the library was named in honour of Principal Emeritus Woolf, who served as principal and vice-chancellor from 2009 to 2019.

“When I first set foot on campus over 45 years ago, I couldn’t have imagined just how big a role Queen’s would play in my career and life,” says Dr. Woolf , who is still working on campus as a professor in the Department of History.

Administrators, fellow professors, and campus leaders attended the Stauffer Library event, and the former principal thanked them all for the role they played in helping Queen’s achieve greatness.

“When I reflect on what we were collectively able to achieve over 10 years, no one knows better than I that it was most definitely a ‘we’ that accomplished these things, not a ‘me,’” Dr. Woolf says. “I hope everyone who was part of that decade will recognize their own labours, success, and accomplishments as well.”

Some of the achievements from Principal Emeritus Woolf’s decade-long tenure include:

  • overseeing one of the university’s most successful fundraising campaigns (which raised $640 million), the revitalization of Richardson Stadium, the opening of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts and Mitchell Hall, and the naming of the Stephen R. Smith School of Business
  • partnering with one of Canada’s most-prominent philanthropists, entrepreneur Seymour Schulich, to establish the Schulich-Woolf Rare Book Collection
  • initiating reforms to the university’s financial management, budget model, and pension plan to return the university to financial sustainability
  • implementing a number of organizational and governance changes, including appointing the first Queen’s provost
  • establishing the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion (PICRDI) to help foster a campus that is welcoming, respectful and reflective of diverse identities. 
  • increasing Queen’s international student enrolment and promoting Queen’s abroad, though such initiatives as the Matariki Network of Universities
  • chairing the Council of Ontario Universities and serving as Vice-Chair of Canada’s U-15 group of research universities
  • improving mental health services for students through the Principal’s Commission on Mental Health
  • supporting students through exams with the annual springtime “cookie drop” in Queen’s libraries, together with his wife Julie Gordon-Woolf.

“Dr. Woolf is among the university library’s strongest and most longstanding advocates. His commitment to the academy, passion for books, and enduring belief in the importance of libraries are but a few expressions of his notable legacy here at Queen’s,” says Vice-Provost and University Librarian Mark Asberg. “We’re excited to commemorate Dr. Woolf’s service and generous contributions, and we believe it’s entirely fitting that a library space which welcomes and positively impacts users on a such a mass scale be named for such an outstanding member of our community.”

The naming ceremony in the library is one of several ways the Queen’s community is honouring the legacy of Principal Emeritus Woolf.

Alumni Stephen Smith (Sc’72, LLD’17), Chancellor Emeritus David Dodge (Arts’65, LLD’02), and Christiane Dodge (Arts’65), were among several donors to a $2-million fundraising campaign to establish the Principal Emeritus Daniel R. Woolf Professorship in the Humanities. The professorship campaign was chaired by past Queen’s Board Chair William Young (Sc’77), with support from Chancellor Emeritus Jim Leech (MBA’73). The Faculty of Arts and Science recently announced Nancy van Deusen (History) will hold the inaugural professorship.

Arts and Science