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Learn how Queen's is planning for our safe return to campus.

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Supports for students during exam season

The end of the term can be busy and stressful for many students, especially for those with exams and major assignments.

Units across Student Affairs have organized several events and programming to help students to stay healthy and feel prepared.

Earlier this week, Student Community Relations led a Check-in/Treat Yourself outreach on West Campus and in near-campus neighbourhoods, reaching more than 1,000 students. Staff and peers handed out hot chocolate and apple cider, as well as bags of treats and resource cards covering academic skills and writing, self-care, tips for health and wellbeing, support services, and upcoming events.

Student Academic Success Services (SASS), in partnership with Residence Life, ran a successful all-day study event called Get It Done in Ban Righ Dining Hall on Nov. 28, as well as workshops on essay writing, multiple choice exams, and several course-specific sessions.

“Exams are a turning point in the year for students; they signal the end of a term’s hard work,” says Mikayla Sebesta, Outreach and Peer Programs Coordinator for SASS. “The shift to studying for finals and exams can often be stressful for students, but SASS’s exam prep programming focuses on promoting strategies that will help students do their best.”

Over the course of the exam period, students can visit SASS in Stauffer library for continued exam prep workshops, or book an appointment for a one-on-one writing or academic skills support session.

Student Wellness Services (SWS) is also offering programming to promote health and wellbeing during this busy time. There are online resources, including how to manage test and exam anxiety, as well as a daily exam health challenge on SWS’s Be Well Instagram.

Students can join a SWS counsellor online each week to learn Mindful Moment techniques, and check out Health Promotion’s monthly CampusWELL online magazine to learn 5 steps for escaping procrastination and a 10-minute study break workout.

“While students may not have a lot of time to focus on their health and wellbeing during the exam period, figuring out a few strategies that help you reduce stress can be key,” says Beth Blackett, Health Promotion Special Projects for SWS. “When your stress levels are lower, not only do you feel better but often you can focus better and study more effectively.”

At the Health Promotion Hub in Mitchell Hall, students can visit with Oscar, a fluffy golden retriever therapy dog from St. John’s Ambulance, every Friday from 1:00-2:00 pm as part of Dogs on Campus, or they can register to pick up free mason jar chili and granola on December 16.

Exercise is a great stress buster, and this month at the ARC, students can join Charity Group Fitness classes for the AMS Food Bank or drop-in for open recreation, or a lane swim.

Students living off-campus are invited to take a study break and enter Student Community Relations’ door decorating contest on Instagram at @QueensuSSCE. The theme is ‘what winter/the holidays mean to you and your housemates’, with prizes and bonus points for using recycled materials.

For more information on all exam prep resources and programming, visit the Student Affairs Student Resources webpage.

December 6 ceremony memorializes victims

Queen’s University marks National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women with event and livestream.

December 6 memorial permanent installation
A permanent memorial installation in Beamish-Munro Hall, designed by Haley Adams, features a white rose petal for each of the 14 victims of the Dec. 6 massacre. (University Communications)

The Queen’s community will mark the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women on Monday, Dec. 6 with a ceremony, hosted by the Engineering Society, at the Integrated Learning Centre in Beamish-Munro Hall from 1-2 p.m.

The event will also be livestreamed for those not on campus.

Each year on Dec. 6, Canadians pause to reflect on the murder of 14 women that occurred at l’École Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989. It is a day to remember the victims and think about the effects that gender-based violence has had – and continues to have – on our society.

Most of the women killed that day were engineering students and were specifically targeted because they were women.

“We need to remember the terrible events of December 6. It is especially important for the engineering community to reflect on that loss, and to strengthen our resolve to welcome more women into the profession,” says Kevin Deluzio, Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. “As a society we still have much work to do in the areas of equity, diversity, and inclusion, so this is a meaningful day for everyone at Queen’s. I encourage people from across the university to join us in reflecting on this day’s significance.”

As part of the ceremony, 14 current Queen’s Engineering students will speak about the 14 women who were killed and express their views on why it is important to remember them.

Making fall break permanent

Queen’s will provide a week away from classes each fall term going forward to help the university community rest and focus on health and wellbeing. 

Photograph of Queen's pole pennant in front of Grant Hall.
The fall term break will go into effect for the 2022-23 academic year and will be a week away from classes beginning on the Thanksgiving holiday each October. (University Communications)

Fall break will now be a permanent fixture on the Queen’s academic calendar following a vote by the Senate on Nov. 30. The Senate made this decision based on the recommendation of the Fall Term Break Task Force, which conducted broad consultation with members of the Queen’s community and received just under 8,000 responses to the fall term break survey that was open in October.

“We had a fantastic response rate to our survey from students, faculty, and staff, and we found overwhelming support for making fall term break a permanent part of the academic calendar going forward,” says William Nelson, Co-Chair of the Fall Term Break Task Force and Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning), Faculty of Arts and Science. “Students in particular let us know that a fall break is beneficial for their mental health, as it allows them to relax, rest, catch up on work, and, in some cases, visit friends and family back home. Queen’s has listened to this feedback and is pleased to take action in support of our community’s health and wellness.”

The fall term break will go into effect for the 2022-23 academic year and will be a week away from classes beginning on the Thanksgiving holiday each October. To accommodate this new schedule, classes in the fall term will now begin on the Tuesday after Labour Day. The consultation process found that faculty, staff, and students believe this is the least disruptive way to alter the academic calendar. Student Affairs programming will continue during fall breaks for students who remain in Kingston.

“Mental health is an important issue for many students, and an annual fall term break will be an excellent opportunity for them to focus on wellbeing while resting and regrouping for the rest of the semester,” says Ryan Sieg, Vice President (University Affairs), Queen’s Alma Mater Society and member of the Fall Term Break Task Force. “This change will align us with many other universities who have found a fall term break beneficial for their communities.”

In addition to the survey, members of the task force held consultation meetings in faculties, schools, and units across Queen’s. The task force also reviewed the fall term break policies of a selection of other Canadian universities and found that most offered a fall term break in 2021. Following recommendations from the Report of the Principal’s Commission on Mental Health, Queen’s introduced the fall term break in 2018 as a three-year pilot. The Senate Committee on Academic Development and Procedures (SCADP) created the Fall Term Break Task Force this fall to provide a comprehensive recommendation on the future of the break. Prior to approval from Senate, the task force’s recommendation was approved by SCADP on Nov. 10.

Learn more about the Fall Term Break Task Force on the Queen’s Secretariat website.

Advancing Queen's as the university of the future

Principal Patrick Deane meets with the campus community to give progress update on the Queen's Strategy and related initiatives.

On Nov. 29, Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane held a virtual gathering with the Queen’s community to discuss the university’s strategy for the future, and the work being done in support of this plan. Grounded in the institution’s values of truth, responsibility, respect, freedom, and wellbeing, the strategy encompasses all the university’s work, spanning student learning, research impact, global and community engagement, organizational culture, and more. 

Principal Deane shared a new video outlining Queen’s vision, mission, and values, fielded questions, and updated faculty, staff, and students on how implementation of the strategy will move ahead.

“The time has come for us to begin to implement the university's strategy for the future,” says Principal Deane. “The challenges of a global pandemic may have delayed us but it has not dampened or diminished our hope and aspirations. Now is the time to begin the work to realize our bold, strategic goals for Queen's.”

Earlier this year, the university announced its new Queen's Strategy, which laid out the university’s mission, vision, and values, and identified six key areas through which the institution can be positioned as the university for the future. As part of this launch, Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane established working groups — each tasked with conceptualizing how to advance each key area of focus — which met throughout the summer to develop proposed initiatives. 

Each working group is fronted by an ‘action champion’, a faculty or staff person appointed to lead the implementation work stemming from the proposed initiatives. The breadth of proposed initiatives spans from research positioning and pedagogical development to community engagement, resources and supports, and beyond.

The first investment in realizing the proposed initiatives will come from the Principal’s Office, with $420,000 designated to health and wellness improvements and programming within Human Resources. 

Throughout the winter, the campus community will continue to engage on the Queen's Strategy, with open town hall engagements; meetings of the Board, Senate, and University Council; student, faculty, staff, and alumni outreach, and much more. The strategy’s formal launch is set to be unveiled during a community event currently slated for January. 

Learn more on the Queen’s Strategy webpage.

Queen's welcomes Karta Scholars

The international Karta Initiative provides access to university for promising students from rural India.

Photograph of Karta Scholars at Queen's.
Sahana Nayaka and Akshay Desale are the first two students to join Queen's through the university's partnership with the Karta Initiative. (University Communications)

Talented students are everywhere in the world, but, for many, a university experience is well out of reach.

Queen’s has committed to a range of programs to help address this challenge, including its partnership with the Karta Initiative, an international charity that works to transform the futures of students from developing and emerging economies. In 2019, Queen’s signed an agreement with the Karta Initiative to support up to five Karta scholars from under-resourced areas in rural India to study at the university each year. Although the pandemic has limited this number so far, the university is pleased to be supporting two scholars this year.

Sahana Nayaka joined Queen’s as its first Karta Scholar in 2019, and Akshay Desale became Queen’s second Karta Scholar this fall. Since arriving on campus, they’ve been busy adjusting not only to life at university but also to life in Canada more broadly. The Queen’s Gazette connected with Sahana and Akshay to learn more about how they came to Queen’s and where they hope their education will take them after they graduate.

The Karta Initiative offers a wide range of programs for students in rural India. You’re both a part of the Karta Catalyst Scholars program, which provides students with financial and personal support to study at leading universities. It is open to only a select group of talented and community-oriented students. What was your path to becoming a Karta Scholar?

Sahana: It started for me in grade 11, when my school was selected to take part in the Karta Initiative. Several of us were selected to apply based on our grades, then later we had a series of interviews with the Karta mentors and had to write about ourselves, our background, and why we want to be part of Karta. A few of us were then officially selected as Karta members, which opened up opportunities like summer school and workshops on English. After two years of being members, we were then assessed again to determine if we could move on and become Karta Scholars. The main thing you’re assessed on is your values, specifically flexibility, integrity, perseverance, and service. Not every member is able to become a scholar. If you’re selected, you’ll have an opportunity to study at a university. It was a very proud moment to find out I’d been selected to become a Karta Scholar.

Akshay: My path was very similar to Sahana’s. I became a Karta member in grade 10, which gave me the chance to learn a lot about life at universities and how they work. Then I became a Karta Scholar in grade 12.

As a Karta scholar, you had the option to pursue an undergraduate education at many universities in Canada, the United Kingdom, and India. Why did you choose Queen’s for your studies?

Akshay: Queen’s is a world-class university, and it provided me with a very good scholarship. I also knew that Queen’s was going to be a very supportive environment to study in. Through Karta, I got the chance to speak with Sahana about her experiences at Queen’s and she told me how welcoming the community is here and how much mentorship you can find.

Sahana: I didn’t know much about Queen’s except what I found on Google. But I knew I liked the subjects offered here, and I liked the flexibility Queen’s gives you in the first year find out what you want to study. I come from a science background and really enjoyed taking classes in all subjects, like physics, chemistry, biology, and math. So I wanted to continue to explore different subjects until I found out which one fits well for me, and Queen’s offered that opportunity.

How have you been settling into life at Queen’s so far? Sahana, you’ve been here a few years now so maybe you feel like you’ve been comfortable here for some time.

Sahana: I do feel comfortable, and in large part that’s because Queen’s has a great ecosystem of support for us. It makes us feel like we are a part of a community. Coming from a very rural area in India, it’s a big transition to study at a university in Canada. For myself, and I think for Akshay too: we never imagined we would be here when we were growing up. To help us make this transition, Queen’s has provided us with support throughout our journey, especially from the Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) and other units in Student Affairs. At the beginning there was definitely some culture shock and language adjustment, and Queen’s has helped us through it all.

Akshay: My experience has been pretty similar to Sahana’s. I also come from a rural background in India, so studying at a university like Queen’s is huge for me. And it’s a very huge transition. The cultures are different. People and perspectives are different. Everything is different here. But people come to Queen’s from very different backgrounds. And everyone is open to every kind of background. This has helped me a lot. So I feel I have been settling in really well in terms of making friends here, and sharing my culture with them and learning about their cultures. And like Sahana said, we have access to all kinds of resources and moral support at Queen’s through QUIC, Student Affairs, and other offices on campus. We’ve been getting help whenever we need it.

Since you’re feeling so supported that probably helps you have the energy to focus on your coursework. What subjects are you studying at Queen’s? Have you had any favourite courses yet?

Akshay: I am in the computing program, and I really enjoy coding. So one of my favourite courses this term is CISC 101, where we’re being introduced to coding and learning Python, a programming language. What I really enjoy about coding is the sense of completion I get from it, the sense I’m really building something and creating something of my own. I find that very satisfying. When I study other subjects, I feel like I need to take a break after two or three hours. But when I study coding I feel like I can do it forever. Everything can be done in different ways when you’re coding. That’s one of the best things about it.

Sahana: I am a mathematics major, and one of my favourite courses has been one I’m taking this term, Introduction to Finance. I like working with numbers and learning how money works. It’s really interesting to see what happens when money moves from one place in the economy to another. Finance also gives me the chance to blend my interests in math and economics together. I took economics courses my first two years and really enjoyed them. Since I’m in third year, I feel like I need to start figuring out what I want to do, and my interests are starting to move more towards finance.

So you’ve started to talk about what you might want to do with your life. You both obviously still have a lot of time to figure things out, but as of now where do you see your career or education going after you graduate from Queen’s?

Sahana: For now, I’m not really sure, but I think I want to pursue graduate studies. Maybe a master’s in finance or an MBA. I would also be open to working. I still need to figure out my path and where I want to be after graduation.

Akshay: Within the computing program, I’ll be focusing on artificial intelligence. And I’m also learning data science. By the end of fourth year, I’m hoping to start studying higher level machine learning and other subjects related to data science. After I graduate, I’d like to try to find a job working in data science for a big tech firm like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, or Amazon.

Earlier, you both noted how coming to Queen’s from rural India was a big transition for both of you. What’s one thing you were really surprised by when you arrived in Canada?

Akshay: I knew a lot about Queen’s and Canada from Sahana before I got here. But I was still surprised by how warmly accepted I was by the other students. I knew everyone would be kind to me, but I still wasn’t sure if I’d really be accepted and make friends easily. But I was surprised that my background made no difference when it came to making friends. People welcomed me and included me from the start.

Sahana: Coming from a huge country like India with one of the highest populations in the world, I was surprised by how few people there seemed to be here when I first came. I remember asking myself: “where are the people?” And like Akshay I was surprised by how nice the people are. Then winter was a big surprise too. The first time it snowed, I was very excited. But each time it’s snowed after that I think I’ve found it less exciting.

For the Record – Nov. 25, 2021

For the Record provides postings of appointment, committee, grant, award, and other notices set out by collective agreements and university policies and processes. It is the university’s primary vehicle for sharing this information with our community.

Submit For the Record information for posting to Gazette editor Andrew Carroll.

Selection Committee appointed for Head, Department of History

Rebecca Manley’s term as Head of the Department of History is scheduled to end on June 30, 2022. Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Mark Green has appointed a Selection Committee to advise him on the appointment of the next head. The Selection Committee has the following membership: 

Elected Members

  • Jeff Brison, Associate, Department of History
  • Jeff Collins, Professor, Department of History
  • Emily Hill, Associate Professor, Department of History
  • Adnan Husain, Associate Professor, Department of History
  • Lisa Pasolli, Associate Professor, Department of History
  • Glenn Wilmont, Cognate Faculty, Professor, Department of English
  • Matt Colby, Department Manager, Department of History
  • Margaret Ross, Graduate Student, Department of History
  • TBD, Undergraduate Student, Department of History
  • Tara MacDonald, Associate Dean (School of Graduate Studies)
  • Nick Mosey (Chair), Associate Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science
  • Kim Bellefontaine (Secretary), Faculty of Arts and Science

Pursuant to Articles 41.3 and 41.3.6 of the Collective Agreement between Queen’s University Faculty Association and Queen’s University at Kingston, comments on the present state and future prospects of the Department of History are invited by noon on Nov. 30, 2021. Names of possible candidates for the headship may also be submitted. Send all comments, in confidence, to the attention of Kim Bellefontaine. All letters will be reviewed by the Selection Committee and will become part of the record of decision-making.

At the request of either the department members or the committee, a meeting can be arranged between the department and the committee to ascertain the department’s views on the qualities of a head. Once a short list has been established, it will be distributed to members of the department for further input on the merits of the respective candidate(s).

Selection Committee appointed for Head, Department of Economics

Allen Head’s term as Head of the Department of Economics is scheduled to end on June 30, 2022. Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Mark Green has appointed a Selection Committee
to advise him on the appointment of the next head. The Selection Committee has the following membership: 

Elected Members

  • Robert Clark, Professor, Department of Economics
  • Christopher Cotton, Professor, Department of Economics
  • Beverly Lapham, Professor, Department of Economics
  • Huw Lloyd-Ellis, Professor, Department of Economics
  • James MacKinnon, Professor, Department of Economics
  • Martin Hand, Cognate Faculty, Professor, Department of Sociology
  • Alexandra Fox, Department Manager, Department of Economics
  • Kaveh Sanjabi Kalaye, Graduate Student, Department of Economics
  • Ava Marshall, Undergraduate Student, Department of Economics
  • Tara MacDonald, Associate Dean (School of Graduate Studies)
  • Sharon Regan (Chair), Associate Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science
  • Kim Bellefontaine (Secretary), Faculty of Arts and Science

Pursuant to Articles 41.3 and 41.3.6 of the Collective Agreement between Queen’s University Faculty Association and Queen’s University at Kingston, comments on the present state and future prospects of the Department of Economics are invited by noon on Dec. 6, 2021. Names of possible candidates for the headship may also be submitted. Send all comments, in confidence, to the attention of Kim Bellefontaine. All letters will be reviewed by the Selection Committee and will become part of the record of decision-making.

At the request of either the department members or the committee, a meeting can be arranged between the department and the committee to ascertain the department’s views on the qualities of a head. Once a short list has been established, it will be distributed to members of the department for further input on the merits of the respective candidate(s).

Abridged Selection Committee appointed for the Head, Department of School of Computing

Hossam Hassanein’s term as Head of the Department of School of Computing is scheduled to end on June 30, 2022. Dr. Hassanein is willing to consider reappointment.

In accordance with the terms of Article 41 of the Collective Agreement between Queen’s University Faculty Association and Queen’s University at Kingston, an abridged Selection Committee has been struck to assist Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Mark Green in the selection of the next head. Under the rules of the Collective Agreement, members of the Bargaining Unit within the School of Computing have elected the following people to the committee:

  • Mohammad Zulkernine, Professor, School of Computing
  • Ting Hu, Assistant Professor, School of Computing
  • Yuanzhu Chen, Professor, School of Computing
  • Ahmed Hassan, Professor, School of Computing
  • Gabor Fichtinger, Professor, School of Computing

The committee will be chaired by Associate Dean, Nick Mosey.

Under Article 41.3.3, if the head indicates that s/he wants to be renewed, “the abridged Selection Committee shall consult with the members of the department, and if it concludes that there is a clear departmental consensus in favour of renewal, it shall recommend to the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) that the head be renewed.” If the committee concludes that there is no clear consensus for renewal, a full committee shall than be constituted.

To assist in this consultation process, you are invited to express your views on the present state and future prospects of the School of Computing and whether you favour renewal of the present head. If you wish to offer comments on these matters, please be advised that your letter will be reviewed by the committee and will become part of the record of decision-making. Please send all comments to the attention of Kim Bellefontaine by Dec. 7, 2021.

Reusable food container program continues to grow

Queen’s Hospitality Services is continuing to drive a culture of sustainability in food operations on campus in alignment with the university’s strategic framework and UN Sustainable Development Goals.

After removing plastic straws on campus and switching to paper bags, Hospitality Services introduced a reusable ECO Container in 2019 to help reduce waste. The pilot saw a promising 7,500 uses of the containers, which diverted as many single-use containers from landfill and recycling steams.

In 2021, Hospitality Services further invested in reusable containers and has expanded the program to Queen’s proprietary retail food brands, including KHAO, flipit, and The Lazy Scholar.

“We are always looking at ways we can further reduce our environmental impact,” says Carl Hanna, Sustainability Manager for Queen’s Hospitality Services. “As a community, we feel we can make a difference through our ECO container program. We encourage all students, staff and faculty to participate so together, we can significantly reduce food-related waste on campus.”

Upper-year students, staff, and faculty can now opt into the program by visiting the main Hospitality Services office in Victoria Hall E022. Opting in includes a $5 deposit, which can be refunded at the end of the year with the return of the container.

Single-use surcharge survey

As part of long-term programming, Hospitality Services is also looking for input from the Queen’s community about considerations on introducing a surcharge fee on single-use compostable containers in early 2022. All staff, faculty and students are invited to complete the survey before Dec. 14.

Over 30,000 single-use compostable containers have been used in retail locations so far this semester. Adding a surcharge would help encourage uptake on the ECO container. Funds collected through this program will be put towards other Hospitality Services sustainability initiatives.

“The reduction of single-use containers and packaging helps mitigate environmental impact in the Queen’s community, but often, organics and recycling bins can be contaminated.  Increasing the use of reusable food containers needs to be prioritized, which aligns with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production,” says Jenn Pete, Associate Director for Housing and Ancillary Services.

For more information, visit the Hospitality Services website.

Queen’s Gazette newsletter gets a refresh

Queen’s University is introducing a refreshed Queen’s Gazette newsletter – providing news and information about the university and its community – with the first edition arriving in email inboxes on Wednesday, Nov. 24.

It will support the university’s strategic priorities and feature a lively mix of top research, community, and campus news, as well featured events, and recent posts from our popular social media channels.

For further information or comments, can be sent to enews@queensu.ca.

Q&A: Giller Prize-winning author Omar El Akkad

Novelist discusses his award-winning new book, his time as a Queen’s student, and his upcoming role as the 2022 Writer in Residence in the Department of English.

Giller Prize-winning author Omar El Akkad (Photo by: Anna Mehler Paperny)
Giller Prize-winning author Omar El Akkad. (Photo by: Anna Mehler Paperny)

Earlier this month, Egyptian-Canadian author and Queen’s alumnus Omar El Akkad was awarded the coveted Scotiabank Giller Prize for his latest book What Strange Paradise. The book marks El Akkad’s second major fiction release — following his lauded 2017 debut American War — and centres on a young Syrian boy’s survival amidst the global refugee crisis.

El Akkad spoke to the Gazette about his book and its reception, about his experiences of learning and mentorship while a student at Queen’s, and about his upcoming role as 2022 Writer in Residence with the English Department’s Creative Writing program.

Congratulations on being awarded this year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize for your book What Strange Paradise! How does it feel to have your work recognized in this way?

It’s a surreal thing, an honour I never thought about except in the abstract. Writing is a pretty lonely existence, and you never really know when you’re putting the book together if it’ll have any resonance at all. To be in this position, where a book I thought might never be published in the first place is now being mentioned alongside so many of my literary heroes on the Giller longlist and shortlist, isn’t something I’ve been able to fully process yet.

In What Strange Paradise, the main character, Amir, is caught in the throes of the Mediterranean refugee crisis. While his story is fictionalized, it is certainly representative of the true dangers faced by displaced people. As real-world social, political, economic, and environmental challenges grow to impact more and more people, what do you hope readers come to understand or feel through their engagement with Amir’s struggle?

I used to have a much more confident answer to this sort of question. I used to have a very specific set of hopes and expectations about what I want readers to take from my books, the ways in which I hoped the work might change them. But in truth, those expectations are indistinguishable from delusion. The book the reader reads is a million lives removed from the one I wrote, and that’s something to be celebrated. If any piece of literature, mine or otherwise, does anything to expand a reader’s conception of what it is to be human, that’s more than enough. I certainly hope people will come to see the need for a more humane and just approach to global refugee policy, but that’s something I hoped well before I wrote this book.

In an interview on CBC’s Q you said that, upon learning of your win, one of the first calls you made was to Carolyn Smart, a creative writing professor you had here at Queen’s. Why was she one of your first calls, and what about her mentorship — and mentorship generally — contributed to your growth as a writer?

A very long time ago, Carolyn decided to admit me to her prose class, which ended up changing my life. It was the first time I was being taught by a writer, surrounded by other student writers. It made this sort of life seem like something I could actually do. She was also my first publisher, when she put together an anthology of student writing called Lake Effect. I say without hyperbole that there are more than 30 years’ worth of Canadian writers who owe her an incredible debt. People don’t usually associate Queen’s with a robust creative writing program, but over the years, Carolyn did more for Canadian literature on her own than almost anyone I’ve ever met.

In an August 2021 profile in the Queen’s Alumni Review, you touched on some of the notable inflection points along your early path toward becoming a novelist. You enrolled in (and ultimately graduated from) computer science at Queen’s mostly out of feelings of familial expectation, and instead honed your writing through elective or extracurricular means — reporting for the student newspaper and connecting with the creative writing course. Along the way, did you learn anything that may encourage current Queen’s students as they seek to identify and nurture the things for which they are passionate?

I think for me, Queen’s served two invaluable purposes. First, it allowed me to fail, repeatedly and consistently, in relative safety. I had so many terrible, uninformed opinions and I screwed up in every conceivable sense and I learned, from my teachers but also from my peers, how to be better. The other thing my time at Queen’s afforded me was the opportunity to dabble in a million different pursuits, to try things out and see if they made for a good fit. You don’t get that kind of opportunity many times in life, a million doors flinging open all at once, and what I’d encourage all students to do is walk through at least some of those doors; the thing you end up making your life’s work could be on the other side.

Queen’s students may soon have a chance to garner your advice and mentorship directly, as you were recently welcomed by the Department of English as its Creative Writing 2022 Writer in Residence. What about this role do you most look forward to? How does it feel to return to Queen’s in a mentorship capacity?

I’m looking forward to some dedicated writing time and to meeting students. It’s been more than 20 years since I first showed up as a frosh, and I suspect I’m going to feel old as dirt as soon as I set foot on campus, but that little stretch of land from the water up to Morris Hall was the site of so many of the best memories of my life. It’ll be bittersweet to come back, but I think more sweet than bitter.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Queen’s community before we close out our chat?

I’ll be camped out in a little office in the English building at all hours of the day and night, wrestling with an absolute mess of a novel manuscript, from mid-January to mid-March. If you’ve got time, come by and say hi.

Recent Queen's graduate earns Rhodes Scholarship

Jane Hutchings has been selected for a prestigious scholarship to pursue postgraduate education at the University of Oxford.

Photograph of Jane Hutchings
Jane Hutchings graduated with a B.Comm (Honours) from Queen's in 2021 and will focus on diplomatic studies and financial economics as a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford. (Supplied photo)

Queen’s University graduate Jane Hutchings has been selected as a 2022 Rhodes Scholar, earning a prestigious scholarship to the University of Oxford worth more than $100,000. She has been chosen as the recipient for Newfoundland and Labrador.

Hutchings graduated from Queen’s in 2021 with a B.Comm (Honours) and has also earned a Graduate Diploma in Accounting from the Smith School of Business. This selection brings Queen’s overall Rhodes Scholar total to 61.

“On behalf of the Queen’s community, I congratulate Jane on this tremendous achievement,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane. “Jane’s academic accomplishments, student leadership, and extensive record of community service are truly inspiring, and her experience as a Rhodes Scholar will undoubtedly help her achieve her ambitions of making a meaningful impact on communities in Canada and around the world.”

During her time at Queen’s, Hutchings took on a variety of leadership roles and coordinated community service opportunities both at home and abroad. She was especially active with the Commerce Society, where she served as an Outreach Officer and Advisory Board Audit Director among other roles. As the co-chair of the Queen’s Commerce Service Initiative, she organized service trips to Costa Rica and Guatemala for 24 students, giving them opportunities to engage in community growth and economic development projects.

“It was always my dream to study at Oxford, so when I received the phone call I was lost for words,” says Hutchings. “I cannot wait to embark on my studies, meet fellow students and professors and take in the beautiful architecture and history of Oxford. I will pursue a MSt in Diplomatic Studies and a MSc in Financial Economics, focusing on rural development, sustainability, and economic resilience in my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador."

This research will build on her experience studying Tilting, NL as a Mitacs Research Fellow. Through a partnership with Mitacs and the Community Revitalization Research Program at the Smith School of Business, Hutchings researched community involvement and cultural custodianship in the Newfoundland community on Fogo Island, off the northeast coast of the province.

Hutchings was recognized with a number of awards throughout her time at Queen’s, including a Commerce 1986 Award in Memory of Jeffrey Brock and a D.I. McLeod Dean’s List with Distinction Scholarship. She also earned a D&R Sobey Atlantic Scholarship, which is awarded to outstanding high school students from Atlantic Canada to attend the undergraduate Commerce program at the Smith School of Business.

“As a D&R Sobey Atlantic Scholar, I would like to send a special thank you to Rob and the late Donald Sobey for their generous support and guidance over the past four years,” says Hutchings. “I would also like to send a huge thank you to the Queen's Community and Smith School of Business, especially the professors who helped me during the Rhodes Scholarship process, namely Dr. Tina Dacin, Dr. Kate Rowbotham, Dr. Louis Gagnon, Professor David McConomy, Lori Garnier, and Dr. Paul Calluzzo.”

Following her time at Oxford, Hutchings intends to pursue her career goals of working as an economic diplomat and an elected official.

Funded by the Rhodes Trusts, 11 Rhodes Scholars are selected each year from across Canada. These outstanding students demonstrate a strong propensity to emerge as “leaders for the world’s future.”

The scholarships to the University of Oxford are for postgraduate studies or a second bachelor’s degree and cover tuition and fees and provide a stipend to help cover living expenses for two to three years of study.

Learn more about Rhodes Scholarships.

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