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The principles guiding us forward

Principal’s COVID-19 Response Steering Committee unveils guiding principles to ensure Queen’s seizes opportunities and emerges strongly from this crisis.

As the winter term wraps up with students busy writing their final exams, the university itself is fully focused on preparing for the future as the COVID-19 crisis continues to unfold.

As announced on April 13, Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane has launched a Principal’s COVID-19 Response Steering committee and seven sub-groups to take the lead on the planning process. Together they are charged with finding innovative ways for the university to quickly adapt and thrive in this challenging and rapidly changing environment.

“We must prepare for what may lie ahead to ensure that as a community, we are ready to face future challenges but also seize upon opportunities that may present themselves because of this unique situation,” says Principal Deane. “Our future will depend on how well we are able to make changes, how innovative we are and how quickly we can adapt to a new mode of human interaction, constantly being rethought due to public health concerns.”

The seven working groups are meeting throughout April and into early May to craft strategic recommendations for the university’s Senior Leadership Team and Principal to review in early May, in areas ranging from academic regulations to research impacts, and from enrolment to remote delivery, as well as finances, budgeting, and faculty and staff supports. 

Guiding principles

These small, agile sub-groups will have representation from administrators, including Deans, staff and faculty from across the campus and most also include representation from students. They will always be mindful of equity, diversity, inclusion and indigeneity (EDII) considerations in their work. They will also be closely guided by a final set of overarching principles developed to ensure the university is able to emerge from this crisis intact and ready for the future:

  • The academic mandate of the institution must be central to all work done in response to COVID-19.  Queen’s University must continue to operate as an institution of higher learning, dedicated to providing the highest quality undergraduate and graduate programs and supporting cutting-edge research.
  • Wherever possible, our decision-making should be steered by longer-term considerations, the intention being to put the University in the best possible situation for progress and evolution beyond the COVID-19 crisis.
  • It has never been more important for the different parts of the University to work together, actively seeking cooperation with other units and being always mindful that a decision made in one part of the institution will have consequences elsewhere. Systemic thought and action are the institutional correlative of empathy and cooperation in our human interactions, and just as vital for our long-term success as a community.
  • It should be understood that the costs of the crisis will be borne by the whole institution, the correlative of which understanding is that units less impacted by the crisis will contribute to the support of units more so.
  • Wherever possible, the university must remain whole to ensure that when the crisis is over, it can emerge fully operational and ready to resume its work in the physical as well as the virtual environment.
  • People are a priority for the institution and maintaining staff, faculty and student connections is of paramount concern.
  • The institution should be driven to look beyond its borders for partnerships, supports and collaborations. Community engagement on a local, national and global front are invaluable to future success.
  • Bearing in mind all of the above, we must think and act with courage, dedication and high ambition on behalf of Queen’s University.

“I am confident that through working together in a collaborative fashion on our strategic planning for the future, we will emerge from this crisis a stronger institution. Now, more than ever, is a time to be bold and innovative and think about how Queen’s can continue to offer its students a quality educational experience distinguished by our community that supports students through exceptional teaching and research,” says Principal Deane

Confronting COVID-19 Read more articles in this series

The Principal and Provost are also in contact with student leaders and continue to work closely with them to apprise them of current issues, hear concerns and consider those concerns as decisions are being made.

“We know people are waiting to hear from us, but we also want to make sure we get this right. There is a lot at stake,” says Principal Deane. “I, along with my team, will make decisions based on the careful and detailed work of the Steering Committee and their sub-groups’ recommendations. In some cases, we may also engage other governance bodies where necessary, such as Senate and the Board of Trustees to determine next steps and determine what is needed to ensure the best future for the institution.”

The Terms of Reference for the steering committee and its sub-groups is now available on the Office of the Principal's website.