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Queen’s remembers Professor Emeritus C.E.S. (Ned) Franks

Queen’s University is remembering the accomplishments and contributions of C.E.S. (Ned) Franks, a professor emeritus in the Department of Political Studies and the School of Physical and Health Education.

[CES (Ned) Franks]
Professor Emeritus C.E.S. (Ned) Franks died on Tuesday, Sept. 11. (University Communications) 

Dr. Franks taught at Queen’s for 35 years, and was a leading expert on Canada’s parliamentary system. He died Tuesday, Sept. 11. He was 81.

“Queen’s and Canada have lost a great political scientist in Ned Franks. He had a long career which included mentoring many students who have gone on to distinguished careers in academia, the public service, journalism, and politics,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf. ”An expert on Canada’s parliamentary system he served as a regular adviser to government and media. He also participated in Queen’s governance, most recently on the former Campus Planning and Development Committee.”

Born in Toronto, Dr. Franks attended Upper Canada College, earned his BA (1959) and MA (1965) from Queen’s, and his DPhil from Oxford.

He returned to Queen’s as an assistant professor in 1967 after working for several years with the Government of Saskatchewan, including a stint as clerk assistant of the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly.

Throughout his career at Queen’s, Dr. Franks’ influence and reputation was felt well beyond the university and his advice and insight were regularly sought out by fellow scholars, governments, and media.

“He was a kind of larger-than-life figure both here in the department but also in the scholarly community and beyond. His intellectual breadth was incredibly broad and deep. He had a passion for knowledge,” says Jonathan Rose, an associate professor in Political Studies. “I don’t know any other political scientist who has written respected books on canoeing and Parliament. His sense of wonderment about things beyond and outside of the narrow discipline of political studies was incredibly refreshing and demonstrated a love of learning about the world.”

Dr. Franks was Dr. Rose’s supervisor during his master’s studies at Queen’s and later became his colleague when he joined the Department of Political Studies. He was strongly influenced by Dr. Franks’ sense of rigour and the importance of precision in scholarship.

“Here was an academic who continued the best tradition of Queen’s, which is to make connections between policy making and scholarship,” Dr. Rose says. “I think one of the reasons Queen’s politics is respected in Ottawa is because of this close connection and regular advice that scholars like Ned would provide governments of all political stripes.”

In addition to more than 100 articles and chapters in books, Dr. Franks wrote or edited 14 books and monographs, including The Parliament of Canada, The Canoe and White Water, and Dissent and the State. His work included explorations into public administration, government accountability, parliamentary government in Canada, aboriginal self-government, canoeing, sport and politics, Canada's North, issues related to nuclear energy, and politics in India.

He also wrote numerous influential op-ed pieces for newspapers and magazines and was asked by national and international media for his insight on important issues on the Canadian political agenda. 

In 2002, he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal and, in 2004, the Royal Canadian Geographical Society awarded him its 75th Anniversary Medallion.

In 2007 the Queen’s University bestowed its Distinguished Service Award upon Dr. Franks in recognition of his four decades of leadership and work on campus planning, including playing a key role in the planning and construction of Mackintosh-Corry Hall as well as a major renovation and expansion program for the Agnes Etherington Art Centre.

“With gentle humor, positive reinforcement and comprehensive knowledge you have presided and offered wise counsel as the university sought to improve planning activities for the practice of commissioning buildings, and procedures for selecting leading architects and adopting competitive processes,” a section of the award citation reads. “The results may be found in the record of award-winning structures renewing one of Canada’s historic institutions.”

Dr. Franks also played the roles of an adviser on student life matters and a supporter of student self-government, serving as a mentor to generations of student leaders in the Alma Mater Society, and twice was appointed as honorary president.

Funeral arrangements will be announced once finalized.