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Financial Sustainability

Travel advances being phased out with new travel credit card program in place

In 2021, Queen’s University introduced the travel credit card (TCard) program through Scotiabank that provides employees and departments more flexibility in paying for expenses when traveling on behalf of the university.

With the successful launch of department and individual travel cards complete, Financial Services, in collaboration with Strategic Procurement Services, will be enforcing the Travel and Expense Reimbursement Policy, which states that “Faculty and Staff will not be issued travel advances for costs that can be paid for through a Queen’s TCard.”

Effective Oct. 11, 2022:

Cash/travel advances will no longer be approved for expenses such as: rail, airfare, hotel accommodations, rental vehicles, etc. However, if you can prove that you have applied and are waiting for a TCard, your advance may be approved.

Faculty and staff must use the segments feature in the Expense Reimbursement System (ERS) when requesting an eligible cash advance otherwise the advance will not be approved.

Effective Jan. 1, 2023:

The expectation is that you have applied and received your Queen’s TCard. Cash advances will be rejected for expenses such as: rail, airfare, hotel accommodations, rental vehicles, etc.

Faculty and staff must use the segments feature in ERS when requesting an eligible cash advance otherwise the advance will not be approved.

SPS Business Services is currently contacting employees with travel advance applications and providing information about how to apply for a Queen’s TCard.

Applications for Travel Credit Cards are now being accepted via acQuire. Complete the application found in Credit Card Forms. Mandatory training sessions are available for registration in the Learning Stream catalogue and are required as part of the TCard policy – information can be found on the SPS website.

Full details regarding the new TCard policy and procedure can be found on the SPS website.

Questions regarding the new TCard program can be sent to creditcards@queensu.ca.  

Inspiring musical minds

The latest donation by Bader Philanthropies, Inc., will ensure Sistema Kingston and the Faculty of Education continue to provide opportunities to aspiring young musicians and student teachers.

Grade 2 students participating in Sistema Kingston's end of year concert at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.

One of the largest donations ever to the Queen’s Faculty of Education is going to inspire children and help them reach their full potential through the power of music.

A $533,000 (USD) gift from Bader Philanthropies, Inc., will guarantee funding for the next three years for Sistema Kingston – an intensive, after-school music program for elementary students focused on positive social development through the pursuit of musical excellence. Serving children from low-income and marginalized communities, Sistema Kingston is housed at the Queen’s Faculty of Education, which provides administrative support, office and storage space, and student-teacher volunteers. 

“Sistema Kingston uses the music ensemble – strings, choir, and rhythm – as a vehicle to develop important life skills like attentive listening, self-confidence and perseverance.  Through group-centered learning and regular performance opportunities, we foster creativity and personal responsibility, and, of course, our goal is to spark joy,” says Sistema Kingston Director Karma Tomm. “It’s amazing knowing that, with this donation, we have funding for multiple years, and we can focus on supporting children and strengthening connections between the university and the community.”

Tomm says the gift from Bader Philanthropies is the most generous donation the program has ever received. The gift will allow Sistema Kingston to reach more children by expanding its program to the Algonquin & Lakeshore Catholic District School Board – the region’s separate school board – and provide more practicum placements and hands-on learning opportunities for Queen’s Education students. 

Sistema Kingston, which started in 2015, runs from October to May. Beginning in Grade 2, students participate for 10 hours a week, and the program culminates in a year-end concert at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. With a goal to eliminate barriers to accessibility, Sistema Kingston provides high-quality music instruction at no cost to families and works with The Joe Chithalen Memorial Musical Lending Library to provide free string instruments. 

The program goes beyond just learning to play the violin, viola, or cello. Sistema Kingston focuses on the whole child by supporting emotional wellness and creating safe spaces for personal expression. It also offers a nutritious food program to make sure kids have the energy needed to thrive.   
“At the Faculty of Education, we aim to create spaces where there is room for all to learn and grow. Sistema Kingston helps to build inclusive communities and brings music education, and its many benefits, to children in Kingston,” says Faculty of Education Dean Rebecca Luce-Kapler. “We are honoured by Bader Philanthropies’ gift and grateful for their continued support of music in our community.”  

Sistema Kingston had to scale back programming due to COVID-19 restrictions, yet it highlighted that technology can be a tool to help teach. Reflecting on lessons learned during the pandemic, Tomm says the grant gives Sistema Kingston an opportunity to explore how to balance the benefits of technology and the online environment with the benefits of in-person engagement in an equitable way for students from all economic backgrounds.  

Tomm is thrilled the new funding from Bader Philanthropies ensures the program grows and thrives by expanding to a new school board and providing more opportunities to both aspiring young musicians and student teachers.

“Our goal is to reach more kids,” Tomm says. “I am really touched by (Bader Philanthropies’) confidence in what we do and their confidence in the way Queen’s and Kingston can work together to make our community a better place.”

Transforming the global academy

Principal Patrick Deane on how the SDGs are helping break down silos, provoke dialogue, and unite us all in a common global purpose.

[Photo of Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane]
Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Queen's University

This op-ed was originally published in the Times Higher Education supplement in 2021.

As a member of the international group tasked with updating the Magna Charta Universitatum – the declaration of university freedoms and principles that was first signed in Bologna in 1988 – I am struck by the extent to which the intervening three decades have altered the global consensus about the nature and function of universities. Where the original document spoke eloquently to the fundamental values of the academy, the new Magna Charta Universitatum 2020 reaffirms those values but also expands upon their social function and utility. I would summarise the shift this way: we have moved from an understanding of universities as defined primarily by their ability to transcend historical contingency to a more complicated view, which asserts that timeless principles such as academic freedom and institutional autonomy are the platform from which the academy must engage with history.

If the situation in Europe and around the world in 1988 made it important to speak up for the freedoms without which teaching and research would be impoverished, by 2020 it had become equally important to speak of the responsibilities incumbent on institutions by virtue of the privileges accorded to them. The reality of rapid climate change has brought urgency and authority to this new view of universities, as have parallel trends in the social, cultural, and political climate, and “education for sustainable development” has emerged as the increasingly dominant model for global higher education – one which fuses the concerns of environment, society, and economy.  

Recent columns in Times Higher Education have admirably described the diverse ways in which the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been intrinsic to this reorientation of the global academy: as a rallying point for students and staff, as an accountability framework, and as a global language for political action, for example. Here at Queen’s University, the SDGs have been an important frame for our current planning process, and in all of those ways have influenced the manner in which we understand and wish to articulate our mission.

At one point in the process, an influential and valued friend of the university expressed some irritation to me about the way in which the SDGs had come to dominate and disrupt the university’s normally untroubled and inwardly-focused dialogue with itself about mission and values. “And in any case,” came the throwaway dismissal, “there’s nothing original or new about aligning with the SDGs.” Of course, that is true in 2021, but is it relevant? If a university is able to maximise its global impact, does the inherent originality or novelty of its planning parameters matter? In such exchanges – still occurring, I’m certain, on campuses everywhere – we can see that the changing consensus about which I wrote at the start is not yet complete.

It seems to me, in fact, that much of the value of the SDGs as an organising framework for universities resides in their not being proprietary or “original” to one institution, or to an exclusive group of institutions. It has often been pointed out that they now provide a shared language which helps universities in diverse geographical, political, and socio-economic locations understand and build upon the commonality of their work in both teaching and research. Adoption of the SDGs, however variously that is done from institution to institution, is turning the “global academy” from a rhetorical to a real construct, and I can’t imagine why it would be in the interests of any university to hold itself aloof from that transformation. Having watched our planning process unfold at Queen’s over the last two years, I can confirm that what the SDGs do at the global level, they do also at the level of the individual institution, providing a common language that provokes and sustains dialogue – not only between disciplines, but between the academic and non-academic parts of the operation.

I want to end by commenting on the excitement generated when siloes are broken open and when people and units understand how they are united with others in a common purpose and in service to the greater good. To cultivate that understanding has been the primary objective of planning at Queen’s for the last two years, and preparing our first submission to the Impact Rankings has been an intrinsic part of that process of learning and self-discovery. Naturally, we are delighted and excited by where we find ourselves in the rankings, but we are energised in a more profound way by the knowledge of what synergies and collaborations exist or appear possible both within our university and in the global academy.

The first 16 SDGs point to the areas in which we want to have impact. The 17th tells us what the whole project is really all about: acting in community for the communal good.


Queen’s commits to reduce carbon footprint of university’s investment portfolios by 2030

Strategy calls to maintain significantly lower emissions than the global benchmark and drive meaningful change.

Queen's University and Grant Hall

In line with Queen’s commitment to make a real and lasting impact in the fight against climate change, Queen’s Board of Trustees has endorsed its Investment Committee’s Final Report on Climate Change Action Task Force (CCATF) Recommendations, which includes a commitment to lower the carbon footprint across the university’s investment portfolios.

The Investment Committee report set targets to maintain at least 25 per cent lower carbon emissions than the global equities benchmark by the year 2030.

“Queen’s University is deeply committed to making a global impact in advancing sustainability through its responsible investing,” says Jim Keohane, Chair of the Investment Committee. “We are aligned with students, faculty, staff and the administration in engaging on this issue. The recommendations we have brought forward will have a lasting positive impact on Queen’s and our planet.”

The targets set out in the recommendations are impactful and designed to align Queen’s with Canada’s net zero commitments. With a target of at least 25 per cent below the broader global market’s emissions, the university will decarbonize its portfolios ahead of the market and without singling out specific industries. The benchmark target reduction approach is aligned with those taken by many large best-in-class institutional investors.

“We will work closely alongside our investment managers to drive carbon reduction with all companies within our portfolios,” Keohane says. “We will ask a lot of our investment managers and we will be tough markers to effect real change.”

“We have recommended a holistic, collaborative and comprehensive approach to the de-carbonization of our investment portfolios because we believe it is the most effective approach, and simply the right thing to do,” says Don Raymond, who chaired both the CCATF and the Energy Transition Subcommittee that was tasked to look at how to implement the recommendations.

This approach will allow the funds to achieve strong, sustainable returns while enabling the university to do its part in working with other responsible shareholders to influence the companies in which it is invested to also decarbonize. The University Board and administration have listened to student input and reflected this in their decisions and actions.

“We believe the recommendations put forward and approved by the Board are a significant step for the University to be taking,” says Aria Goldin, Co-President, Queen’s Backing Action on Climate Crisis, a climate change activism organization run by Queen’s students. “We look forward to working with University Investment leadership to provide our input on the progress of these important commitments.”

The recommendations are notable in Queen’s broader strategy to tackle climate change, supporting Queen’s overall commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

The Board of Trustees approved the following three key recommendations of the CCATF final report:

  1. Reduce the carbon footprint of the Pooled Endowment Fund (PEF) and Pooled Investment Fund (PIF) and sustain by the end of 2030 a public equity portfolio (and real assets and private equity where data are available) with 25 per cent lower carbon emissions than the equities benchmark.
  2. Allocate at least 15 per cent of the PEF to a Queen’s Climate Action Allocation (QCAA) by the end of 2030, comprising investments across asset classes that are expected to outperform with the transition to a lower carbon economy. In taking this targeted allocation approach, the committee no longer recommends including the previously planned donor direction program.
  3. Queen’s should become a signatory to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI).

A key to achieving the targets set out in the plan is the establishment of a Queen’s Climate Action Allocation (QCAA), made up of investments with significantly lower carbon emissions than the equities benchmark. The recommendations target an allocation of at least 15 per cent of the PEF into the QCAA by the end of calendar 2030. The QCAA was kickstarted in December 2020 with a US$30 million investment within the PEF into Pattern Energy, a private wind and solar company with operations in North America and Japan. That investment represents just over three per cent of current PEF assets.

Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane noted the recommendations also complement many of the other initiatives undertaken by the university, including the commitments expressed in Investing to Address Climate Change: A Charter for Canadian Universities, to which Queen’s was one of 15 founding signatories in June 2020.

“This work undertaken by our former Board Chair and the subcommittee will be a lasting legacy,” says Principal Deane. “The recommendations signify real action to address our ongoing commitment to combat climate change and have placed Queen’s at the forefront of investment transparency.”

More information on Queen’s Responsible Investing can be found online.

Today’s decisions are just one of the ways Queen’s is advancing sustainability and responding to the world’s most urgent challenges. For more details on Queen’s contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals are available here

Review of Queen’s budget model

Following the release of Queen’s new Strategy, Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane has initiated a review of Queen’s budget model to ensure that resource allocation is aligned with and advances the university’s new strategic goals. The aim of the review is to assess critically the strengths and weakness of the current model and to identify potential modifications.

A steering committee has been formed to oversee the review, chaired by the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Mark Green. Huron Consulting Group has also been engaged to assist in the review of the budget model. 

Huron Consulting Group is conducting a series of interviews and focus groups with various members of the Queen’s community, including department heads, staff representatives, members of Senate committees, senior administration, and deans.

While the review will consider the input received during the consultation process that formed the basis of the Report on the Conversation and the development of Queen’s Strategy, members of the Queen’s community are also encouraged to provide additional feedback to provost@queensu.ca by Monday, Feb. 28.

The steering committee is expected to complete its work and deliver its recommendations by Spring 2022. An overview of any suggested enhancements to the current model will be communicated broadly to the Queen’s community.

Further information is available on the Office of the Provost website.

Reminder: UPP All-Member Information Session May 27

Information Session will review key themes raised at the recent Pension Plan Listening Sessions and key things to know going into July 1st 

The University Pension Plan (UPP) reminds pension plan members that they are invited to join UPP staff on May 27th from 5:30 – 7 pm for an All-Member Information Session, where UPP staff will reflect on some of the key themes raised at the Listening Sessions in a ‘fireside chat’ with UPP CFO, Henry Kim.

The UPP hopes to provide a sense of how they will go about things in this early stage of the transition to the UPP and our pace of change. They will also present a short ‘UPP 101’ touching on the key things to know going into July 1st and then will open the floor to a live Q&A.

Staff hope to get to all questions and will be sure to reply to any submissions through the MyUPP.ca online form or myupp@universitypensionplan.ca email address. They are also working to establish a comprehensive, up-to-date “Your Questions Answered” section on MyUPP.ca to address member questions submitted during recent sessions and online.

The UPP team thanks those who were able to join the May 11th University Pension Plan (UPP) Listening Session on responsible investing. It was so important for the UPP to start by hearing your perspectives, questions and concerns and appreciated participants’ time and candour.

Registration is required. A password was emailed to members by HR Pensions on May 10th. More information is available on MyUPP.ca.

University Pension Plan Member Consultations Begin Tomorrow

Listening Session seeks member views on investment approach

A reminder for those interested to register for UPP’s Investment Listening Session with pension plan members tomorrow, May 11th from 10.30 a.m. to noon, to share your views on UPP’s investment approach. This will follow with a UPP All-Member Information Session on May 27th from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Registration for both events is now open at MyUPP.ca. The password to register has been sent to members by direct email.

Queen’s community comes together to illustrate social impact

THE Impact Rankings submission measures the university’s overall contribution to global sustainability.

 [Graphic image with a "Q" of the Queen's community]

Times Higher Education (THE), the organization best known for its World University Rankings, sees universities as representing the greatest hope of solving the most urgent global challenges. In 2019, they moved to create the Impact Rankings – an inclusive evaluation of post-secondary institutions’ commitments to positive social and economic impact measured against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This year, out of more than 1,500 participating institutions worldwide, Queen’s placed seventh globally in the 2022 Impact Rankings. It’s the second straight year Queen’s has placed in the top ten and the continued strong performance is a result of our campus community’s united effort to advance sustainability and social impact.

THE Impact Rankings

While many traditional ranking processes are designed with research-intensive universities in mind, the Impact Rankings are open to any institution teaching at the undergraduate or post-graduate level. Using the SDGs as a means of gauging a university’s performance, THE developed a methodology involving more than 100 metrics and 220 measurements, carefully calibrated to provide comprehensive and balanced comparisons between institutions across four broad areas: research, stewardship, outreach, and teaching.

“The Impact Rankings are unlike any other ranking. They offer a global platform to acknowledge and celebrate the partnerships integral to advancing international initiatives, developing the leaders of tomorrow, and working towards an inclusive, diverse, and sustainable future,” says Michael Fraser, Vice-Principal (University Relations) and co-chair of the Queen’s Impact Rankings Steering Committee. “On behalf of the Steering Committee, once again, thank you to the community for your support and collaboration in advancing this initiative.”

In their submissions, universities must demonstrate progress toward meeting at least three SDGs, as well as towards SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals. THE evaluates each institution’s submission, drawing on the quantitative and qualitative data provided, in addition to bibliometric research datasets provided by Elsevier, a data and analytics company.

The Queen’s Submission – A Community Effort

“Participating in the Impact Rankings requires self-reflection. We are asked to contemplate our current impact and think about what we want to achieve for the future,” says Sandra den Otter, Vice-Provost (International) and co-chair of the Queen's Impact Rankings Steering Committee. “The results of the last two years are a testament to the work we have done together. I hope this is a moment for recognizing the progress we have made, and to furthering our aspirations as a university and as members of a global community committed to change.”

Queen’s submission process is led by a Steering Committee, Project Team, and Working Group comprised of leadership, staff, and faculty from across the university. This year, the team set about gathering and reviewing over 600 unique pieces of evidence, representing the efforts of about 80 units, departments, and portfolios. Queen’s chose to continue to submit evidence in support of all 17 SDGs – a decision that led to top-100 rankings in 12 of the 17 SDGs, including top-30 in 8 SDGs, and being ranked in the top 3 – globally – for SDG 1: No Poverty, SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, and SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions.

Metrics and measurements were unique for each SDG, with each goal requiring a specific combination of quantitative and qualitative data. The quantitative evidence integrated research bibliometric data and key words that measured number of publications, co-authors, and field-weighted citations. Other quantitative measurements, for example, looked at water consumption per capita, energy and food waste measurements, support for arts and culture initiatives, number of first-generation university students, and number of employees and students from equity-seeking groups.

Qualitative evidence spanned from institutional policies and academic programs to the missions of research centres and institutes, community volunteer initiatives, and strategic plans, all demonstrating how we are advancing the SDGs. Metrics often required evidence of local, national, and global-reaching initiatives to illustrate full impact.

More than 300 internal links pointing to Queen’s websites, including the new Advancing Social Impact site and report, were supplied as publicly accessible evidence of Queen’s research, outreach, teaching, and stewardship efforts. Additionally, nearly 50 external links were included in the submission, each reflecting the university’s extensive partnerships: internally with student-led clubs, locally with Sustainable Kingston and United Way KFL&A, nationally with the Government of Canada, and globally with the Matariki Network of Universities.

Learn more about Queen’s performance in the Times Higher Education 2022 Impact Rankings.

[This story was originally published on April 21, 2021, and has been updated to reflect Queen’s University’s performance in the 2022 THE Impact Rankings.]

Travel and Expense Policy updated

Revisions to Queen’s University’s Travel and Expense Reimbursement Policy were recently approved and came into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

The revisions help to further modernize the processes related to Travel and Expense Reimbursements, managed by Financial Services, and provide further clarifications, which will add to the efficiencies of these processes for all involved.

The main changes include:

  • Mandatory use of the Employee Reimbursement System (ERS) for all who have access
  • Reference to the new Professional Expense Reimbursement Procedure for QUFA members
  • Release of a new Travel Credit Card (TCard) program (and related Policy and Procedures)
  • Updates to the related Cash Advances Procedure
  • Additions to the list of positions that can approve an Exception to Policy

The Employee Reimbursement System (ERS) has been updated to synchronize with the Scotiabank TCard program to ensure an efficient and effective process for both the university and employees.  Use of the ERS is now mandatory for the processing of all expense reimbursement claims for all who have access to it, including all Faculty, Staff, and Graduate Students.   

The new Professional Expense Reimbursement (PER) procedure for Queen’s University Faculty Association (QUFA) members provides general information on the processing of PER expense claims as defined in the Collective Agreement (article 36.3) between QUFA and Queen’s University. This procedure ensures that requirements of the Canada Revenue Agency are met, and that the expenses incurred and any related balance carry forwards are in accordance with the terms set out in the QUFA Collective Agreement. The PER procedure sets out standard guidelines on eligible and ineligible expenses, as well as defining matters such as the timing and method of submission to be applied equally to all QUFA members at Queen’s.

The Scotiabank TCard program provides employees and departments more flexibility in paying for expenses when traveling on behalf of the university. The program will ensure an efficient and effective process for both the university and employees. Credit card forms (applications and change requests) have been moved from paper to electronic (via acQuire), to ensure correct approvals are obtained and stored for ease of audit tracking. Wherever possible, electronic processing has been implemented to ensure efficiencies.  If using a TCard, multiple expense claims can be filed for one trip, to allow prepaid travel costs to be accounted for on a timely basis, and all vehicle rentals should be paid for with a TCard.  Currently, all university-sponsored travel is suspended, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This provided an opportunity to introduce the TCard program effectively with limited use and be ready for when travel is once again allowed. The launch is in no way an endorsement of non-essential travel.

The existing Cash Advances Procedure was also updated.  This was primarily to reflect the availability of TCards, and to note that Travel Advances will no longer be provided for items that could be paid for on a TCard.  The additions also added that a cash advance is now available to pay for course fees in an instance where a Procurement Credit Card (PCard) could not be used for the course prepayment.  For situations where a cash advance needs to be repaid, Financial Services has also added the ability to process these repayments through Interac eTransfers, to reduce the need for the handling of cash and cheques, and in-person transactions. 

A number of positions have been added to the list of those who can approve Exceptions to Policy. In addition to the positions of Principal, Vice Principal, Associate Vice Principal, and Dean are the newly-added Associate Dean, Vice Dean, Vice Provost, University Librarian and Associate University Librarian.

New travel credit card program launched

Queen’s University has introduced a new travel credit card (TCard) program through Scotiabank that provides employees and departments more flexibility in paying for expenses when traveling on behalf of the university. This new program replaces the previous American Express (AMEX) Corporate Program.

With the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, travel has been limited to essential purposes only,  providing an opportunity to introduce the TCard program and be ready for when travel is once again allowed. The launch of the program is in no way an endorsement of non-essential travel during this pandemic.

“The introduction of the Scotiabank TCard program will make the travel process more efficient while providing additional benefits and financial savings to departments and research budgets” says Nicole Fowler, Associate Director, Procurement Operations, Strategic Procurement Services.  Features of the new TCard program include:

  • Queen’s pays directly to the card provider on behalf of the cardholder, any travel expenses charged to the TCard that are submitted and approved through an expense claim processed in the Employee Reimbursement System (ERS);
  • Collision/Loss Damage Waiver (CDW / LDW) insurance for rental vehicles while travelling for business purposes;
  • Additional coverage for travelers, including international concierge service, insurance for flight delay, emergency purchases, lost luggage, and travel accident insurance;
  • Synchronization with the Employee Reimbursement System (ERS) for ease of submitting reimbursement claims; and
  • Travelers are permitted to submitted multiple claims for one trip, if advance paying for airfare, transportation, etc.

As the TCard program will significantly reduce the need for travel advances, corresponding changes have been made to the Cash Advance procedure of the Travel and Expense Reimbursement Policy.   Moving forward, cash advances will only be available for expenditures that cannot be processed on a TCard.

Applications for Travel Credit Cards are now being accepted via acQuire. Complete the application found in Credit Card Forms. Weekly training sessions are being held for cardholders – information can be found on the SPS website.

Full details regarding the new TCard policy and procedure can be found on the SPS website.

Questions regarding the new TCard program can be sent to creditcards@queensu.ca


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