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Principal Woolf announces his priorities for 2014-2015

At the beginning of each academic year it has been my practice to outline for the community, in broad strokes, the goals and priorities I intend to pursue over the course of the year. These goals are, unsurprisingly, aligned with the four strategic drivers identified in the Queen’s University Strategic Framework 2014-2019, a document that will guide the university’s decision making over the next five years.

Principal Daniel Woolf speaks with students during an event on campus. Strengthening the student learning experience is one of his goals for the 2014-15 academic year.

As I commence my second term as Principal my overarching goal remains unchanged-- to advance Queen’s as a university that uniquely combines quality and intensity of research with excellence in undergraduate and graduate education. The strategic drivers – the student learning experience, research prominence, financial sustainability and internationalization – directly support the success of Queen’s as a balanced academy.

It should be noted that the framework builds on and is fully aligned with The Third Juncture, a 10-year vision for Queen’s that I wrote in 2012, as well as a number of other recent planning documents including the Academic Plan (2011), the Strategic Research Plan (2012), the Teaching and Learning Action Plan (2014), and the Campus Master Plan.

In this context, my senior administrative colleagues and I are committed to:

1. Strengthening the student learning experience

A transformative learning experience is central to the Queen’s identity and to our vision as a university. Our academic plan outlines the centrality of developing our students’ fundamental academic skills while also providing them with learning opportunities that will help prepare them for the future. Goals related to this priority include:

  • Increasing the number of new opportunities for expanded credentials, as well as more opportunities for experiential and entrepreneurial learning, both on and off campus.
  • Further integrating technology into the delivery of course content where it enables improved learning.
  • Continuing to focus on strategies for teaching and learning based on student engagement and broad-based learning outcomes.

2. Strengthening our research prominence

Queen’s is recognized as one of Canada’s outstanding research institutions, but sustaining and enhancing our status means we must guide and support our research enterprise while resolutely pursuing funding. Goals related to this priority include:

  • Maintaining success rates in applications for Tri-Council funding.
  • Remaining among the country’s top three universities for faculty awards, honours and prizes, and election to major learned bodies such as the Royal Society of Canada.
  • Supporting the development and engagement of Queen’s faculty members as set out in the Senate-approved Strategic Research Plan.

3. Ensuring financial sustainability

To support teaching and research into the future, we will need stable and diverse revenue streams, particularly as government funding, per student, continues to fall. Goals related to this priority include:

  • Continuing strong revenue growth together with revenue diversification.
  • Meeting our $60 million annual fund raising target as part of the Initiative Campaign, while focusing on its overall achievement by 2016.
  • Pursuing long-term sustainability for our pension plan.

4. Raising our international profile

Two years ago I stated in The Third Juncture that as global competition among universities increases over the next decade, it will not be sufficient to be simply ‘known’ in one’s own country. Increasingly, the value of our students’ degrees will be tied to our international reputation, as will our ability to attract international students, who raise our profile and contribute a great deal to the academic environment. Goals related to this priority include:

  • Moving forward on multi-year plans to increase undergraduate international enrolment.
  • Maintaining our strong record in attracting international graduate students.
  • Supporting growth in international collaborations and partnerships.

5. Promoting and developing talent

We will need to ensure that we are able to acquire, develop and retain top quality faculty and staff to thrive as an institution. Our talent management strategy, which I initiated last year, will provide a strategic approach to ensure we have the right leaders in place and in the wings as we advance our academic mission and work to secure financial sustainability. Goals related to this priority include:

  • Continuing with succession planning efforts for academic and administrative leadership roles across the university.
  • Developing a competency model that will be used to identify necessary competencies when hiring, and for leadership development and performance dialogue discussions.
  • Refining our hiring practices.
  • Promoting discussion among the Deans around faculty renewal. 

Delegation from India gets close-up look at Queen's

  • [Daniel Woolf greets delegation from India]
    Queen's Principal Daniel Woolf greets a delegation of principals and counsellors from high schools in India.
  • [Kathy O'Brien and delegation from India]
    Kathy O'Brien, Associate Vice-Principal (International), speaks with a member of the visiting group of principals and counsellors from high schools in India.
  • [Daniel Woolf greets delegation from India]
    Queen's Principal Daniel Woolf speaks with a member of the visiting group of principals and counsellors from high schools in India.
  • [Daniel Woolf greets delegation from India]
    Queen's Principal Daniel Woolf greets a delegation of principals and counsellors from high schools in India.

A delegation of high school principals and counsellors from India visited Queen’s on Thursday to gain a better understanding of what the university has to offer prospective students.

The visitors started their day with a briefing from Senior Admission Coordinator Cheri Horton, took a campus tour led by a student guide and ended their day with a visit to the newly opened Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.

They also had a special luncheon at Stauffer Library’s Fireplace Reading Room, where they were greeted by Principal Daniel Woolf.

Representatives from the faculties, Student Affairs, Queen's University International Centre, Student Awards, Residences and Undergraduate Admission were on hand to welcome the visitors and answer questions about Queen's.

Rankings season in full swing

September means back to class for university students and it also means international rankings season is in full swing, with the three most-watched rankings released this time of year.

“Queen’s has not chosen an easy path when it comes to international rankings,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “While most universities focus either on research or teaching, Queen’s believes in a balanced academy and strives to excel at both. Delivering a transformative student learning experience in a research-intensive environment is our defining strength, but it does not necessarily help us in international rankings.”

"Queen’s has not chosen an easy path...delivering a transformative student learning experience in a research-intensive environment is our defining strength, but it does not necessarily help us in international rankings."

– Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor

The Shanghai Jiao Tong academic ranking of world universities (ARWU) was released on August 15 and Queen’s maintained its position within the 201-300 range of the world’s top universities. The QS world university rankings were announced September 16 and saw Queen’s move up two positions to 187th globally. The Times Higher Education (THE) world university rankings will be published on October 1.

Every ranking uses a different methodology and Queen’s performs well in some and less well in others. Some rankings, such as QS, rely heavily on global reputational surveys and others, such as ARWU and THE place a heavy emphasis on research output.

“Fluctuations in the international rankings are to be expected and Queen’s may go up or down a few positions from year to year.  The rankings do indicate that Queen’s continues to punch above its weight when it comes to research, but no major ranking captures all of Queen’s strengths, in particular the quality of its student learning experience,” says Kathy O’Brien, Associate Vice-Principal (International).

Expanding the university’s international reach is a strategic priority for Queen’s and a key driver in its strategic framework. Ms. O’Brien says that the university’s success internationally will be built upon its strength domestically. “The university will continue to leverage our strength as a balanced academy to attract international students and to build on our research prominence around the globe.”

Queen’s renewed international recruitment efforts are already showing results, with international students making up five per cent of this year’s incoming class

Uncovering Herstmonceux Castle's history

For the past seven years, Scott McLean has been analyzing the archaeology of the Herstmonceux Castle estate in East Sussex, England. A new excavation program at the estate aims to uncover the ways medieval peoples adapted when the region went through climate change.

Members of the excavation team worked this summer at a site called Mota Piece.

“Through combined excavations, archival research and environmental analysis we are hoping to reconstruct a better understanding of what the Herstmonceux Castle estate was like during the medieval period,” says Scott McLean, an associate professor of history at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC). “With the information we gather, we hope to learn more about how the owners coped with the fierce storms and rising sea levels that constituted this period of climate change.”

The Herstmonceux estate occupies 600 acres of land adjacent to the Pevensey Levels, an ecologically sensitive region that was repeatedly flooded starting in the 13th century when the world entered a period of global cooling known as the Little Ice Age.

Dr. McLean’s research scope has expanded with the excavation program that draws in collaborators from Queen’s University and the University of Waterloo. The program, which has received a $200,000 grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, will also place a strong focus on training students in archeology, archival research and public history research.

“The Herstmonceux Estate excavation provides an excellent opportunity for fruitful collaboration between experts at the BISC, Queen’s and the University of Waterloo,” says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). “Participating in and observing operations at the archaeological sites also represents a unique hands-on learning opportunity for students studying at the BISC.” 

After their first summer of excavation, the team has turned up evidence of an early manor house on the edge of Pevensey Levels. The researchers have also uncovered approximately 100 previously unknown medieval documents related to the castle and estate.

 Excavations at Herstmonceux Estate are planned to continue until 2017.

Queen's, Stuttgart to develop dual master's program

KINGSTON, ON – Queen’s University and the University of Stuttgart, Germany, have agreed to work together on the development of a dual master’s program in the fields of chemistry, chemical engineering and physics. The two institutions signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to begin the process.

Queen's Provost Alan Harrison and Univeristy of Stuttgart Rector Wolfram Ressel sign a memorandum of understanding for the creation of a dual master's program.

“International research experience can be a significant benefit for many graduate students, both academically and in terms of setting them apart in the job market,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “Signing this MOU is an important step in advancing our existing relationship with the University of Stuttgart and providing a valuable international opportunity for Queen’s students.”

Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Alan Harrison signed the MOU on behalf of Principal Woolf, and Wolfram Ressel, Rector of the University of Stuttgart, was at Queen’s to sign on behalf of his institution.

“The MOU provides an optimal framework for the graduate students of both institutions. International exchange and sharing of knowledge is important for the young scientists,” says Wolfram Ressel, “The memorandum promotes a sustainable relationship between the University of Stuttgart and Queen´s University.”

The University of Stuttgart was founded in 1829 and today has an international reputation for excellence in a range of disciplines, including the physical sciences, engineering, and mobile and information technology.  Around 26,500 students are enrolled in the courses of the university offered by 150 institutes in 10 different faculties. Queen’s has a long standing relationship with Stuttgart, both as a frequent research collaborator and as an exchange partner.

“International research experience can be a significant benefit for many graduate students, both academically and in terms of setting them apart in the job market,”

– Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor

“A growing number of Queen’s faculty members collaborate with colleagues overseas, including those at Stuttgart, on significant research projects. This MOU will lead to further opportunities to share expertise through our graduate students,” says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research), who hosted Rector Ressel and the Stuttgart delegation. “The next step will involve both institutions working out the specific details of the academic program over the coming months.”           

Founded in 1841, Queen's University is one of Canada’s leading research-intensive universities, renowned for fundamental advances in health care, the environment, materials and energy, as well as its contributions to public policy, economics, law and culture. Queen’s attracts students from across Canada and from more than 90 countries around the world.

Queen's-China links continue to grow

[Zhiyao Zhang]
Zhiyao Zhang, China Liaison Officer for Queen's, discusses his role as a bridge between Chinese students looking to study abroad and the university. University Communications


As Queen’s continues to advance its activities in China, Senior Communications Officer Craig Leroux  sat down with China Liaison Officer Zhiyao Zhang, who was recently on campus. Dr. Zhang recently received a Governor General’s Medallion for his work promoting Canadian education ties in China.

Craig Leroux: You have been Queen’s China Liaison Officer since 2007. What does that role entail?

Zhiyao Zhang: My job is to act as a bridge between Queen’s and China, helping our faculties build academic partnerships and research collaborations, as well as supporting recruitment initiatives and alumni relations. China is one of Queen’s priority areas internationally and so I’m also working closely with Kathy O’Brien, Associate Vice-Principal, International, to develop a China strategy that will support the comprehensive international plan that is currently in development.

CL: Queen’s has been very active in China recently, in terms of recruitment, academic programs and research. Are there any projects you would like to highlight?

ZZ: There is a lot of activity on many fronts. The Queen’s School of Business has a new Master of Finance program with Renmin University, and Queen’s recently signed a training agreement with the Chinese Ministry of Land and Resources. We are also working to finalize a joint two-plus-two degree program, in environmental science and biology, with Tongji University in Shanghai. Students would do two years of their degree at Tongji and two years at Queen’s. It will be our first international two-plus-two program and we are working to finalize the details. The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science is also exploring new joint programs and other initiatives with Chinese institutions.

CL: You mentioned one of your jobs is to promote research collaborations in China. Is there growing interest at Queen’s in research on China?

I’ve been seeing more and more Queen’s faculty members interested in working in China. It provides a wonderful laboratory for any field of research, simply because of its population size and its stage of development and growth. There are many issues and questions for researchers to study and there is much interest in China in collaborations with Canadian researchers.

We have been working to help build platforms for research collaboration, such as the Sino-Canada Network for Environment and Sustainable Development, a research partnership with Tongji and involving other Chinese institutions, including Fudan University, also in Shanghai.

CL: Queen’s also offers many exchange opportunities in China. Do you see those experiences as valuable for students?

ZZ: Yes, absolutely. Even a short time abroad has an eye-opening and inspirational value for students. A good example is Queen’s Semester in Shanghai program, coordinated by the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, in partnership with Fudan. Queen’s students study at Fudan and, new this year, the program becomes a true exchange with 12 Chinese students coming to study at Queen’s.

CL: China is currently the largest source of international undergraduate students for Queen’s. Do you see Queen’s continuing to be an attractive destination for students?

Canada remains a favoured destination for parents and students and the trend of sending students overseas is not slowing, it’s growing as the number of families that can afford it also grows. I think Queen’s offers something special to Chinese students – an exceptional undergraduate education where our faculty members are very accessible to students. I think the relationships Queen’s has built with top institutions in China will continue to grow and have a positive effect on our reputation and our ability to attract top students.

This article is published in the Sept. 9 edition of the Gazette. Pick up your copy of the newspaper at one of the many locations around campus. Follow us on Twitter at @queensuGazette.

Queen's grad finalist for British art award

By Communications staff

A Queen'™s University graduate is in the running for one of Britain's most prestigious art awards.

Ciara Phillips (Artsci'00) is one of four artists who made the shortlist for the Turner Prize earlier this year.

Ciara Phillips is the first Canadian-born artist to make the short list for the Turner Prize. Photo Tate Britain

Currently living in Glasgow, Scotland, Ms. Phillips received a Bachelor of Fine Art at Queen'™s before earning a Master of Fine Art in 2004 at the Glasgow School of Art.

Ms. Phillips, the first Canadian-born finalist in the award'™s 30-year history, is nominated for her exhibition Workshop at The Showroom in London, where she turned the gallery into a print workshop, bringing in other artists designers and even local women'™s groups to make prints with her.

Her work often involves a range of media including screenprints, photos, textiles and wall paintings.

The Turner Prize is awarded annually to an artist under the age of 50 for an outstanding exhibition or presentation of his or her work in the previous year. None of the four artists are "˜big names"™ in the art world, which falls in line with the award'™s aim of promoting "œpublic discussion of new developments in contemporary British art."

A special exhibition featuring the work of the nominees will be held at Tate Britain from Sept. 30 to Jan. 4. The winner of the £25,000 prize will be announced Dec. 1. Each of the other nominees will receive £5,000.

Also making the shortlist are Duncan Campbell; James Richards; and Tris Vonna-Michell.

Emerging researchers earn national support

Three doctoral candidates and a researcher recently received Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships while a researcher received a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship. From left: Midori Ogasawara; Oluwatobiloba “Tobi” Moody; Tyler Cluff; and Mike Best. Supplied photos

By Mark Kerr, Senior Communications Officer

Four promising Queen’s researchers recently won national awards.

Doctoral candidates Mike Best, Oluwatobiloba “Tobi” Moody and Midori Ogasawara each received Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships worth $50,000 per year over the next three years. The federal government established the program in 2008 to attract and retain world-class doctoral students and to make Canada world-renowned for excellence in research and higher learning.

The same day the Vanier Scholars were announced, Tyler Cluff learned he was the recipient of a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship, a bursary program that provides funding to the top postdoctoral applicants, both nationally and internationally, who will positively contribute to the country's economic, social and research based growth.

Dr. Cluff will receive $70,000 per year over the next two years, which will allow him to test promising new ideas in movement neuroscience, including how humans use sensory information about their bodies and the world around them to make skilled movements.

“This research will not only help us understand basic aspects of motor control and learning, but may lead to advancements in neurological assessment tools and treatment options for movement impaired individuals,” says Dr. Cluff, who is a member of Dr. Stephen Scott’s Laboratory of Integrative Motor Behaviour (LIMB) in Queen’s Centre for Neuroscience Studies.

As a Vanier Scholar, Mr. Best (Psychology) plans to build on his master’s thesis that found members of the general population have an early neurobiological bias towards the speech of people with schizophrenia that results in reduced attention and processing of what someone with schizophrenia is saying. This bias could be a major factor in understanding why people with schizophrenia are excluded, he says.

“Receiving the Vanier CGS provides me with the freedom and financial support to focus more thoroughly on conducting and disseminating my research,” says Mr. Best, who won this year’s Queen’s 3 Minute Thesis Competition. “Social exclusion can be devastating for people with psychosis. With the support of this award I can continue to expand my work to reduce social exclusion and improve the lives of millions of people living with psychosis.”

Mr. Moody (Law) is analyzing the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol, the legal framework that is intended to ensure the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.

Mr. Moody is examining biopiracy debates as well as ongoing related efforts to protect traditional knowledge in international forums. He argues that a coherent global intellectual property system is critical for the Nagoya Protocol’s effective implementation and, ultimately, for the effective protection of traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources.

“The Vanier Scholarship represents to me a humbling affirmation of the significance and importance of my current research within the context of ongoing international efforts to address the effective protection of the traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources of indigenous peoples and local communities,” says Mr. Moody, a Nigerian by birth who started his PhD in the Faculty of Law in September 2012. “I am elated as the Scholarship will equip me with resources to enable me participate in relevant conferences and will afford me the opportunity to devote maximum time and concentration to the development of quality research in this area.”

Ms. Ogasawara (Sociology) is examining the development of national identification systems in Japan from the colonial times to today. The focus of her PhD will be the origins developed in Manchu-kuo, an area of northeast China occupied by the Japan from the 1920s to 1945, as well as the roles of the national ID systems in relation to the colonization then and neoliberal economy nowadays.

“I am very excited to receive a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship because it enables my research to expand to a geographically wider scope and pursue the historical understanding,” says Ms. Ogasawara. “As an international student who has a domestic responsibility for a young child, there would be no other scholarships that could support me in the same way as the Vanier scholarship does.”



Provost clarifies Limestone Queen's pathway admission policies

A recent newspaper report regarding admission standards for international students incorrectly suggested that Queen’s had lowered standards for participants of the Limestone Queen’s Pathway. Craig Leroux, Senior Communications Officer, spoke with with Alan Harrison, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) for clarification.

Craig Leroux: What is the Limestone Queen’s pathway?

Alan Harrison: It is a new initiative between the Limestone District School Board and Queen’s that provides high achieving international students with the opportunity to be pre-evaluated for Queen’s Bachelor of Arts (BA) program and to complete their high school studies in Kingston through the Limestone District School Board.

CL: Does Queen’s lower admission standards for pathway participants?

AH: Participants must meet all of the university’s academic and language requirements and deadlines in order to obtain an offer of admission. Students entering the pathway are not given a “conditional offer of admission to Queen’s.” They are pre-evaluated for the Queen’s BA program. Anyone who takes part in the program is required to follow the normal admissions process and apply to Queen’s through the Ontario Universities Application Centre, and meet the same academic and language proficiency requirements as everyone else. 

 Provost Alan Harrison

CL: Is the pathway an “easy way” into Queen’s?

AH: The pathway targets students who would be competitive for admissions at top universities. It is actually a very demanding program, with participants having to complete Grade 12 in English in a new curriculum while performing at a high academic level. They also have to write the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test, which is a requirement for earning the Ontario Secondary School Diploma, and successfully complete intensive English language training at both LDSB and Queen’s.

CL: Does the pathway ensure students are prepared for university?

AH: Queen’s is committed to supporting the success of all students, including international students. The pathway provides a highly supportive environment and its aim is to ensure that students are prepared for success in university. And we hope they choose Queen’s. In addition to the language training, they are immersed into the local culture and Queen’s and LDSB provide many other supports to ensure a smooth and successful transition.

CL: Does Queen’s actively recruit for the pathway?

AH: No. Queen’s is a partner in the program but the LDSB does its own recruiting. However, attracting international students is a priority for Queen’s and Principal Daniel Woolf. Attracting international students to campus promotes cultural awareness and enriches the student learning experience for everyone. The university’s aim is to double the proportion of international undergraduates to 10 per cent.

Opening a door to the world

By Andrew Stokes, Communications Officer

The flights, trains and buses needed to get to Kingston from the other side of the world may be a stressful ordeal, but the effort is all worthwhile when there’s a warm bed at the end of the trip. That’s why the Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) is looking for volunteers from the university community to house international students for the first few days they arrive in the city.

For one to three days, host houses provide welcoming spaces for international students while they search for a more permanent place to live. Each year, between the fall and winter semesters, about 50 students are in need of accommodation.

“After their many hours of travel, students can be jet-lagged and exhausted,” says Hanna Stanbury, QUIC’s Promotion and Volunteer Co-ordinator. “Having a volunteer house open to them softens the landing; from there, we at QUIC can help them settle in.”

Accommodations needn’t be fancy either. “All we ask is that the host houses provide a safe and friendly place. These conditions are temporary, so students are happy to have a pull-out couch if a spare room isn’t available,” she says.

Prabeen Joshi (Sc’15) came to Queen’s from Nepal in 2010. Arriving a few days before he had access to his apartment, Mr. Joshi was welcomed into the house of some undergraduate students near campus. “This is a great program for anyone who’s an international student. It can be hard to come to a new place and this makes the transition much easier,” he says.

Now settled, and with a place of his own, he’s been hosting international students in need ever since. “I feel like I’ve been able to pay back what I got,” he says. “It’s been very satisfying to be able to help them settle in — I’ve taken the time to show them around town a little bit too, so they’ve got their bearings.”

Queen's in the World

Having hosted people from Holland, Austria, Mexico, China and elsewhere, Mr. Joshi says it’s broadened his network. “Now I know people from half a dozen more countries than I did before. I’ve got friends across the world.”

Anyone interested in offering a place to stay can find more information at QUIC’s website or contact IHC@queensu.ca.


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