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Setting priorities for the BISC

With Hugh Horton set to begin his first September as executive director of the Bader International Study Centre (BISC), the Gazette caught up with Dr. Horton during a visit to Kingston to learn more about him and preview the year ahead.

What made you decide to pursue this opportunity at the BISC?

"I first heard about the BISC while I was completing my PhD in Chemistry at Churchill College, which is part of the University of Cambridge. During my time there it was announced that a castle had been donated to Queen’s University by the Bader family. I was slightly jealous that some of my fellow students, who were Queen’s alumni, went to a university where you could be invited to a castle for the grand opening!

"I joined Queen’s in 1997 as an assistant professor in Chemistry. After several years and a few different roles, I became acting associate dean in the Faculty of Arts & Science and academic liaison for the BISC. As academic liaison, I was involved providing academic advising to students. The other part of the job involved working with BISC Academic Director Christian Lloyd on the curriculum and ensuring it was aligned with what was going on in Arts & Science. Our work eventually led to the introduction of the first year science program at the castle.

"I later became associate dean, international within Arts & Science, and acting vice dean for a year – and then this opportunity came up with the BISC. It seemed to me I was a pretty good fit. I knew the castle, I knew Queen’s, and I understood the Bader’s vision for the campus, and that’s what was needed. I also had a British passport – that didn’t hurt."


Hugh Horton on location at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC). Dr. Horton became Executive Director of the BISC in July
Hugh Horton on location at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC). Dr. Horton became Executive Director of the BISC in July. (Supplied photo)

How has the welcome been so far? Are you settling in?

"The welcome has been great. With the July start, I had the opportunity to meet with some outgoing summer classes – the Law program and the Arts & Science program – as well as many of the staff and some of the faculty. I have also had the opportunity to meet with community groups such as the Friends of Herstmonceux and the BISC board.

"I intend to meet with everyone at the start of the year ceremony, and through a faculty retreat planned for early September. The retreat will be an important opportunity for us to discuss a few key priorities, such as equity and diversity and our academic plan."


Tell us about your priorities for the first year.

"There are three main priorities. The first is to secure and maintain full enrollment. We have made many big strides on our first-year enrolment with our biggest first-year class ever, demonstrating the success of our efforts to diversify our academic offerings. To maintain continuity for the new class of first years, we will be implementing strategies to build our upper year enrolments at the BISC especially during the fall and winter.

"Additionally, we have recognized fundraising and alumni relations as a priority. This week, I had meetings with the Advancement team and several others to discuss those strategies. These topics will be increasingly important with the 25th anniversary of the first class at the BISC coming up in two years.

"Finally, for the first year, I will spend time meeting people, learning about the BISC, and the community. In particular, I will be looking for ways to engage our U.K.-based alumni in campus activities."


What is your leadership style and how you think this will help you as ED?

"I have done some evaluation and training on leadership styles. The tests tell me my style is “conscientious”. I think employees at the BISC will find that I am attentive to detail, that I like to know why we’re doing what we’re doing. I am organized. I like to share what I am thinking so we are all on the same page, and my door is always open (as long as I am in my office and not in a meeting). I want everyone to be engaged."


Any messages for the incoming class of students?

"You’re among the top students in the country, and you’re coming to a unique experience in – let’s face it – the top university in the country. You’re in for an exciting year. It’s a real opportunity for growth, not only academically but as a person.

"I have a lot of respect for you because it’s a scary thing to do. You’re going off to live in a different country for the first time, and to university for the first time. Not many people have the guts to do that. I hope we can give you a first class experience and a great first or third year at Queen's."