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Financial Sustainability

Queen's launches employee benefits plan review

Queen’s is embarking on a comprehensive review of its employee benefits plan.

“The university last conducted a Request for Proposals (RFP) regarding the benefits plan in the mid-1990s, and so it has had an interest in reviewing the plan and going to market for some time,” Caroline Davis VP (Finance and Administration) says. “Prior to initiating the RFP, we also want to review our plan to determine if it provides best value to meet the needs of our employees, and to explore what other possibilities may exist.”

“Both the need to review and to tender our current plan were reinforced during 2015 collective bargaining,” Dan Bradshaw, Interim AVP (Human Resources) notes.

At that time, the university signed letters of agreement regarding the employee benefits plan with the Queen’s University Faculty Association (QUFA) and with all three Canadian Union of Public Employee (CUPE) locals, 229, 254 and 1302. This resulted in the formation of an Employee Benefits Committee involving the participation of unionized and non-unionized groups. The committee met for the first time on Thursday, May 12. In addition to reviewing the plan, a key role for the committee will be to make recommendations for the criteria to be used to evaluate benefits providers who participate in the RFP process.

Throughout the course of the next year, employees will be updated on the benefits plan review and on opportunities to learn more about their benefits as Queen’s employees.

For more information, please contact Diane Pointer, Director, Total Compensation, diane.pointer@queensu.ca, ext. 74173.

Those with questions about the project may submit them to benefits.project@queensu.ca

Changes to improve efficiency of credit card program

The Queen’s Credit Card Program will be revamped in the coming months as the university transitions to a new service provider.

After a lengthy review of available procurement card programs, Strategic Procurement Services (SPS) decided to join the Ontario University Procurement Management Association (OUMPA) collaborative agreement. The SPS team renegotiated several elements of this agreement in support of the university’s current and future requirements.

“With our current credit card service agreement expiring, there was the opportunity to evaluate and make improvements to the program,” says Donna Janiec, Associate Vice-Principal (Finance). “We are confident the revised program will offer better user experience for both card holders and financial administrators.”

We are committed to offering multiple in-person training sessions so that all card holders and administrators are familiar and comfortable with the new program, policies and processes.
— Donna Janiec, Associate Vice-Principal (Finance)

Scotiabank will become the full service provider for the Queen’s University Credit Card Program. This service includes procurement cards (P-Cards) and Visa Payable Automation (VPA/ghost card), as well as corporate travel cards, which will be transitioned at a future date.

The revamped program will include easy-to-use software that will make reconciliation more efficient and give cardholders and departments more detailed reporting information. Furthermore, card holders should expect more user friendly tax-related processes under the system.

Strategic Procurement Services (SPS), which is responsible for administering the program, is working with Scotiabank and a number of units on campus to develop and implement the program. SPS is also updating its P-Card policies and procedures to bring them in line with the new program and software.

SPS will begin testing the system later this month. Multiple in-person training for all P-Card holders will take place over the summer with full implementation expected in August.

“We recognize that training will be essential for a successful implementation of the new Queen’s University Credit Card Program,” Ms. Janiec says. “We are committed to offering multiple in-person training sessions so that all card holders and administrators are familiar and comfortable with the new program, policies and processes.”

Any questions about the changes can be directed to Shirley Romain, Credit Card Program Manager, via email or at ext. 33104.

Promoting science to young Canadians

NSERC funds engineering outreach to Aboriginal students, Science Rendezvous event. 

Two Queen’s University projects will promote engineering and mathematics to young Canadians – including Aboriginal students – with support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

“Both of these programs deserve applause for their work fostering an interest in and instilling a passion for engineering and mathematics in youth,” says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). “Congratulations to both the Aboriginal Access to Engineering program and Dr. Colgan on their continued efforts and leadership to champion STEM education.”

Melanie Howard, Director of Aboriginal Access to Engineering (AAE).

Aboriginal Access to Engineering (AAE) within the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science has received $228,900 over three years from the NSERC PromoScience program. The outreach initiatives of AAE aim to get more Aboriginal youth excited about science and mathematics and encourage them to consider engineering as a potential career path.

“We are thrilled that NSERC has recognized the opportunities and potential that Aboriginal Access to Engineering opens up for Indigenous youth,” says AAE Director Melanie Howard (Artsci’95, Ed’98). “We look forward to engaging more frequently with Indigenous youth through culturally relevant and exciting STEM enrichment experiences, and inspiring youth in Indigenous communities to see themselves as future engineers.”

One of only three undergraduate support programs for Aboriginal engineering students in Canada, AAE is also the only program with a corresponding K-12 outreach component. AAE sets up interactive displays at various community events throughout the summer, engaging youth through storytelling, games and activities to help them learn about the importance of engineering within an Indigenous context.

The program also works extensively with teachers and schools in First Nations to inspire linkages between culture and technology in the elementary science curriculum. Aboriginal youth also have opportunities to visit Queen’s each year and learn more about engineering through in-person meetings.

AAE will use the funding from PromoScience to extend its long-term, reciprocal relationships with proximate Indigenous communities and to strengthen the quality of its outreach and educational efforts.

"I thought, ‘that sounds like so much fun!’"

- Lynda Colgan (Education) on the Mathematics Midway

Lynda Colgan (Education) received PromoScience program funding from NSERC to host the Mathematics Midway at Science Rendezvous Kingston.

Lynda Colgan (Education) is spearheading the other Queen’s project that received NSERC funding. With the $20,000 PromoScience grant, Dr. Colgan is bringing the Mathematics Midway to this year’s Science Rendezvous Kingston. The attraction features mathematics-related puzzles and games.

“Two years ago, I was fortunate enough to place a student for a practicum at the Museum of Mathematics in New York City,” Dr. Colgan says. “As part of a street festival in Manhattan, they ran a Math Midway, which was an opportunity to play games with math and experience the more artistic, whimsical side of math. I thought, ‘that sounds like so much fun!’”

The highlight of the Mathematics Midway at Science Rendezvous Kingston will be the square-wheeled tricycles. Participants will have the opportunity to ride these seemingly impossible vehicles along a specially designed roadway while learning about the math behind what makes them work.

NSERC's PromoScience Program offers financial support for organizations working with young Canadians to promote an understanding of science and engineering (including mathematics and technology). For more information on the PromoScience program, please visit the website.

Celebrating a historic decade of philanthropy

Funds donated during the Initiative Campaign have furthered the university’s top priorities in teaching, research and athletics and recreation.

Queen’s University is celebrating the success of the Initiative Campaign, the most ambitious fundraising campaign in its 175-year history, which concluded on April 30, 2016. Thanks to the collective dedication and generosity of volunteers and donors, more than $640 million has been donated to Queen’s University during the 10-year Initiative Campaign, surpassing the $500 million goal set at the beginning of the campaign in 2006.

Queen's Bands enter during the Initiative Campaign launch event held inside Grant Hall in October 2012. Queen's is celebrating the successful conclusion of the Initiative Campaign, the most ambitious fundraising campaign in the university's 175-year history. (University Communications) 

“This is a proud moment in Queen’s history. The university is enormously grateful to all of our volunteers and donors who recognize the value of a Queen’s education, and have invested in making one of Canada’s top universities even better,” says Daniel Woolf, Queen’s Principal and Vice Chancellor.  

More than 60,000 individual donors, including 35,000 alumni, contributed to the campaign since it was launched in 2006. Funds donated during the Initiative Campaign have furthered the university’s top priorities in teaching, research and athletics and recreation.

Over $85 million has been used to support student assistance programs, including the creation of 473 new student awards and 22 new chairs and professorships. Campuses and facilities at Queen’s have already improved greatly as a result of donations during the Initiative Campaign with further investments to be made in a number of priority areas.

“I would like to extend my most sincere gratitude to the volunteers, donors, alumni and supporters who have contributed to the Initiative Campaign over the past 10 years,” says Gord Nixon, Chair of the Initiative Campaign. “Their efforts have contributed greatly to the campaign, and the excitement and momentum that inspires others to make the same commitment to Queen’s.”

Campuses and facilities at Queen’s have improved greatly as a result of donations during the Initiative Campaign. These investments support the university’s programs and its people, including experiences beyond the classroom that enable the Queen’s community to make a significant impact on society as an informed citizenry, nationally and internationally.

In addition to the funds raised, support from the three levels of government provided an additional $94 million that was not included in the Initiative Campaign total. Queen’s partnered with the federal and provincial governments to build Queen’s School of Medicine, and received support from the federal, provincial and municipal governments to bring the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts to fruition. This support was essential in making these projects possible and the university is enormously grateful for these investments.

More than $115 million has been committed in future estate gifts against the university’s parallel goal of $100 million, which is counted outside of the Initiative Campaign total.

Site audits to resume May 2

Auditors from Honeywell will be resuming site audits to perform individual washroom counts and lighting fixture reviews in all spaces in the following buildings beginning on Monday, May 2:

  • Abramsky Hall
  • Agnes Etherington Art Centre
  • An Clachan – Units 6-12
  • An Clachan – Units 13-19
  • Beamish-Munro Hall
  • BioSciences Complex
  • Botterell Hall
  • Bruce Wing
  • Carruthers Hall
  • Cataraqui Building
  • Clark Hall
  • Chernoff Hall
  • Craine Building
  • Douglas Library
  • Duncan McArthur Hall
  • Dunning Hall
  • Dupuis Hall
  • Fleming Hall – Jemmett Wing
  • Grant Hall
  • Gordon Hall
  • Goodes Hall
  • Goodwin Hall
  • Harrison-LeCaine Hall
  • Humphrey Hall
  • Jackson Hall
  • Jeffery Hall
  • John Watson Hall
  • Joseph S. Stauffer Library
  • Kingston Hall
  • Louise D. Acton
  • Mackintosh-Corry Hall
  • McLaughlin Hall
  • Miller Hall
  • Nicol Hall
  • Old Medical Building
  • Ontario Hall
  • Queen’s Centre
  • Rideau Building
  • School of Kinesiology and Health Studies
  • School of Medicine
  • Sir John A. Macdonald Hall
  • Stirling Hall
  • Summerhill
  • Theological Hall
  • Walter Light Hall

These audits are part of the Energy Matters Project and will have no impact for the day-to-day activities in the above-referenced buildings. Auditors will be wearing either identification badges or clothing to identify their affiliation with Honeywell. See full story on An Investment in Sustainability

Any questions regarding these planned audits should be directed to Fixit by phone at ext. 77301 or by e-mail.

Preferred IT suppliers to visit campus

Queen’s Strategic Procurement Services (SPS) will host a special trade show on April 28 focused specifically on IT related goods and services.

With the closure of the Campus Computer Store, SPS has set up a straightforward process for departmental IT orders. The preferred suppliers that SPS recently qualified – many of them familiar to departments on campus – will attend the trade show to share more information about their latest products and services.

“This is a great opportunity for the campus community to meet or get reacquainted with our preferred IT suppliers,” says Andy Green, Director, SPS. “Departmental purchasers can ask sales representatives and technical specialists any questions they may have, and they can learn about the savings available when they make their purchases through the preferred suppliers.”

The trade show will take place in the Biosciences Atrium on April 28 between 10 am and 3 pm. Refreshments and a buffet lunch will be served. Attendees can also fill out a ballot to win an iPad mini courtesy of SPS.

Visit the SPS website for more information or contact Steve Young at ext. 32912 or via email.

New vice-principal to manage university assets and sustainability

Queen’s University is moving toward a more integrated approach to managing its real estate assets and sustainability initiatives, as Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf announced plans to recruit a new vice-principal of facilities, properties and sustainability.

“With roughly 180 buildings and 170 acres of land in Kingston alone, Queen’s has substantial real estate holdings that are currently managed through three different vice-principal portfolios,” says Principal Woolf. “Assigning responsibility for the management of all property and sustainability initiatives to one vice-principal will help Queen’s develop an integrated real estate strategy that best supports the university’s academic mission and helps to strengthen its financial and environmental sustainability.”

The new vice-principal’s portfolio will include responsibility for Campus Planning and Development, Physical Plant Services, and leased property such as Innovation Park.

The creation of the new portfolio will help ensure that facilities and properties are cohesively managed as the university moves forward with addressing priorities such as classroom renewal, major capital projects including the revitalization of the Physical Education Centre, deferred maintenance, and sustainability initiatives such as the Climate Action Plan. A key component of the new vice-principal’s duties will be the development of a real estate strategy that includes opportunities to generate revenue from properties not currently being used for core academic purposes.

An advisory committee will be appointed to lead a search process and advise Principal Woolf on the appointment of the new vice-principal. That process is expected to begin in the coming weeks.

Queen’s currently owns more than 80 large buildings and almost 100 houses, occupies roughly 170 acres on the main and west campuses (plus 7,500 acres at the Queen’s Biological Station), and manages satellite locations in Toronto and Shanghai, as well as Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex, United Kingdom.

Queen’s welcomes post-secondary investments in 2016 budget

Queen’s University Principal Daniel Woolf welcomes the investment in students, research and innovation outlined in the 2016 federal budget.

“The 2016 budget includes important new investments in the post-secondary sector, including financial assistance for students, funding for fundamental research, and infrastructure renewal at Canada’s post secondary institutions,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “We look forward to hearing further details about the announcements made in the budget.”

The budget will see up to $2 billion invested over three years in infrastructure renewal, starting in 2016-17, through the new Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund. The new fund will support up to 50 per cent of the eligible costs of infrastructure projects at post-secondary institutions and affiliated research and commercialization organizations.

In addition, the budget announced a new investment of $95 million annually in discovery and research through Canada’s three granting councils. The budget also signaled the development of an “innovation agenda” to define clear outcomes, objectives and metrics to measure Canada’s progress, and announced a strategic review of the government’s supports for research and innovation funding.

“Canada’s positon as a leader in research and discovery depends on continued support through the tri-councils,” says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). “This new funding represents a significant boost to the sector and we look forward to working with the government as it undertakes its review of research and innovation funding.”

Going forward, the Government will work with the provinces and territories to expand eligibility for Canada Student Grants so that even more students can receive non-repayable assistance. Under the new model, the existing low- and middle-income thresholds will be replaced with a single progressive threshold under which grant amounts will gradually decline based on income and family size. This will help make postsecondary education more affordable and open up new opportunities for those from low-income families, and ensure graduates can manage debt as they transition into the workforce.

The 2016 budget also proposes substantial investments in Indigenous education to help ensure Indigenous students have the same opportunities for success as other Canadian students. For more information on the 2016 federal budget, please visit the website.

Credit ratings remain high

Queen’s University has maintained its high credit rating on the strength of its prudent management practices, strong enrolment profile and successful fundraising operations.

Both the Dominion Bond Rating Service (DBRS) and Standard and Poor’s held Queen’s credit rating stable over last year, at AA and AA+ respectively. The rating, DBRS noted in its report, reflected that Queen’s has a “consistently strong applicant pool and profile… providing stability to tuition fee revenues and government operating grant allocations.”

“Maintaining a good credit rating is important to Queen’s as it demonstrates that the university continues to be soundly managed from a financial perspective,” says Caroline Davis, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration). “However, both the DBRS and S&P reports do stress that there continue to be financial risks at Queen’s.”

DBRS said the most significant financial risk for Queen’s remains pension sustainability and the potential for significant special payments for the solvency deficit. It also noted that constraints on tuition fees in regulated programs means the university has limited ability to address increasing costs.

Queen’s recently received stage two solvency relief and has opted to defer payments on the solvency deficit for three years and then pay down the entire balance over the following seven. During the three-year deferral period, the university will build a reserve fund to offset the impact of the solvency payments that will begin in 2018. The university is also looking at establishing a multi-employer jointly-sponsored pension plan (JSPP) with other Ontario universities to achieve a solvency exemption.

Read the full report on the Queen’s Financial Services website

Statement from Principal Woolf on the 2016 Ontario budget

I wish to applaud the Government of Ontario for making some important changes to the student assistance program through Budget 2016. The result will be a more progressive system of financial aid for Ontario students and their families.

Changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program and the introduction of the Ontario Student Grant will mean easier access to financial aid and more grants for the students who need it most.

In the coming days we will look closely at other aspects of the budget. Queen’s looks forward to working closely with the government on the implementation of the changes to student assistance over the coming months.

Daniel Woolf
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

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