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Queen’s proposed student centre design wins national architecture award

John Deutsch University Centre (JDUC) recognized with 2019 Award of Excellence for revitalization plans.

Exterior rendering of the proposed JDUC redevelopment design.
Exterior rendering of the proposed JDUC redevelopment design.

Canadian Architect magazine recognized the proposed design for a revitalized John Deutsch University Centre (JDUC) with a 2019 Award of Excellence recently. For 53 years, the annual award program has highlighted exceptional architectural projects during the design stage. Prize jurors lauded the plans for its sustainability features, its focus on increasing accessibility, and for seamlessly blending historic and contemporary design.

JDUC interior rendering
JDUC design interior rendering.

“The JDUC has served as a central student hub on campus for more than 70 years and has been integral to the student experience here at Queen’s,” says John Witjes, Associate Vice-Principal (Facilities). “Our team has worked closely with Queen’s student representatives and the architectural teams to imagine a revitalized JDUC that will encourage learning and community, and be open and inclusive to everyone.”

The redevelopment plan, designed by architects from HDR + MJMA, includes a refreshed look for the facility, the addition of new study and social areas for undergraduate and graduate students, rooms for campus clubs and student services, and accessible entrances and amenities. The proposed sustainability features have been designed to meet the requirements for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification.

Spearheaded by the Alma Mater Society (AMS) and Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS), the redevelopment project was conditionally approved by Queen’s University’s Board of Trustees in March 2019.

“This is an intelligent and effective addition in the heart of an established university campus,” says Joe Lobko, an award juror whose comments were shared by Canadian Architect. “It creates a beautiful and convincing student gathering place while strongly marking its corner site and providing a welcoming invitation to this part of the campus. It knits old and new, but allows each to be of its time.”

Cross-section view of JDUC design.
Cross-section view of JDUC design.

Under the Queen’s-supported proposal, the AMS and SGPS will contribute $50.5 million over 25 years, through a student fee levy – contributions confirmed during graduate and undergraduate referendums in February 2018 and January 2019. Queen’s will support the initiative with a contribution of $11.8 million, including $1.8 million from the university’s operating funds, and $10 million in donor support. Fundraising for the project is underway.

JDUC design exterior rendering.
JDUC design exterior rendering.

“It is a priority for Queen’s to invest in the creation of spaces that support our students, giving them the resources they need to live, study, gather, build community, and access support services that will enable them to thrive,” says Karen Bertrand, Vice-Principal (Advancement). “We are now turning to our alumni and friends with the hope they will be inspired and contribute to this important project.”

Construction will begin once the JDUC revitalization project meets its fundraising target and the Board of Trustees grants final approval.

Cleaning goes green on campus

Custodial Services is adopting environmentally-friendly cleaning practices across the university.

Rick Smith of Custodial Services cleaning a classroom in Mitchell Hall.

Every day, thousands of people are on the Queen’s campus working and studying, as well as living in the student residences. All this activity creates a few big challenges for the university. Among them is the need to keep things safe and clean, while also maintaining a commitment to sustainability.

To promote cleanliness and sustainability simultaneously, Queen’s is now working towards fully adopting green cleaning practices. This transition is coming about through several connected changes in the Custodial Services team. Most significantly, they are adopting certified green cleaning products, reusable microfiber cloths, and will no longer use hot water in cleaning.  Already implemented in a few buildings on the campus, these new approaches are expected to be in use across the campus in 2020. On top of improving the sustainability of the university, these changes are also expected to raise the standards of cleanliness on campus.

“Creating a culture of sustainability at Queen's means we must strive to embed sustainability into all aspects of the university. It is wonderful to see our leadership team in Custodial Services taking the initiative to provide environmentally friendly cleaning options for our campus,” says Donna Janiec, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration).

The adoption of certified green cleaning products will help Queen’s reduce its use of chemicals without sacrificing standards for clean spaces. Once they have fully transitioned to environmentally-friendly cleaning, the Custodial Services team will exclusively use products that have been certified as Green Guard Gold by Underwriters Laboratories, an organization that evaluates the environmental friendliness and effectiveness of cleaning products through rigorous testing. Green Guard Gold cleaners are those that have been found to improve indoor air quality (which means they contain no volatile organic compounds) while also having low chemical emissions.

“These new cleaning products are being sourced from a Canadian company, and they are rated to provide the highest standards of efficacy, cleanliness and sustainability. Once we’ve finished transitioning to using these products across the university, our campus will be both cleaner and greener,” says Samuel Whyte, Director, Quality and Service Excellence (Custodial) in Physical Plant Services.

Reducing waste

These cleaners also minimize waste by making it easy to adjust the dilution of the cleaning liquid. Many of the green cleaning products are applied through a dispenser that mixes the product with cold water. Cleaning staff can change the amount of product that they mix with the water depending on the job they are doing. For instance, there are distinct recommended settings for cleaning glass, carpets, and washroom surfaces to ensure that cleaning staff use only the necessary amount of cleaning product in their work, greatly reducing the number of single-use containers used in cleaning.

The fact that the cleaning products are all effective when used with cold water will help to significantly reduce the amount of hot water used. This could translate into a reduction in the amount of energy the university uses. Custodial Services is also reducing waste through the adoption of reusable microfiber cleaning cloths, which will replace the use of paper towels in 2020.

New colour-coded cleaning system

These cleaning supplies will be utilized through a new systemized cleaning process that is being implemented in conjunction with the green cleaning products. Custodial Services will now be using a colour-coded system to organize which teams clean which areas of a building and what supplies they use.

In this new system, different types of areas are given a specific colour code. For instance, student learning areas, such as classrooms and libraries, are given the colour code of yellow. These spaces will be cleaned only with yellow microfiber cloths and other cleaning instruments, like mops, that are marked yellow. Similarly, public and common areas are coded green, staff areas are coded blue, and washrooms and changing areas are coded red. Different teams of cleaners will specialize in cleaning different types of areas. Using the same products and teams for similar spaces helps prevent cross contamination and increases efficiency.  

“Over the past few years, we have witnessed Queen’s take strides towards making our campus more sustainable. As students, we are proud to see Custodial Services stepping up with innovative technologies that contribute to a greener future,” says William Greene, Vice President (University Affairs) of the Queen’s Alma Mater Society.

Queen’s has been embracing sustainability throughout a wide range of its practices in recent years. Hospitality Services has implemented a range of programs to reduce waste. The West Campus District Energy Conversion Project aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1,500 tonnes. And Queen’s recently joined the University Climate Change Coalition (UC3) and hosted a UC3 forum to discuss the university’s role in promoting sustainability both on and off campus. Outlined in the Queen’s Climate Action Plan, the university’s ultimate goal is to become carbon neutral by 2040.

Queen’s Pension Plan AGM: Dec. 6, 2019

The annual meeting of the Queen’s Pension Plan will be held from 1-2:30 pm on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019 in Ellis Hall Auditorium.

All Queen’s Pension Plan members, including retirees, are invited to attend the annual general meeting. 
One of the plan’s investment counselors, its actuarial consultant, and members of the Pension Committee are scheduled to be present to answer any questions. Members will also be given the opportunity to raise other matters relating to the Queen’s Pension Plan that may be of concern. 
For more information, contact the Pension Services unit of Human Resources at 32070.

Inaugural chair of the University Pension Plan Board of Trustees announced

Following a comprehensive national search, the University Pension Plan (UPP) Joint Sponsors – comprising the Employee Sponsor (Faculty Associations, United Steel Workers locals, and CUPE locals) and the Employer Sponsor (University of Toronto, University of Guelph and Queen’s University) – has announced the selection of Gale Rubenstein as the inaugural chair of the UPP Board of Trustees.

The UPP is the first jointly sponsored, defined benefit pension plan for Ontario’s university sector. The official registration date of the UPP is Jan. 1, 2020. Ms. Rubenstein will play an instrumental role in the start up, launch and effective governance of the UPP.

Once fully operational, anticipated to be July 1, 2021, the UPP’s asset base will be over $10 billion. The UPP will be a sector-wide defined benefit pension plan, open to other Ontario universities to join.

The Board of Trustees – consisting of 14 trustees, including the chair – will be the administrator of the UPP and responsible for overseeing both plan investment and administration. The process to select the remaining Trustees, in which the Joint Sponsors each nominate individuals with appropriate expertise, is currently underway.

Read the full release on the UPP website.

Pension transition plan receives strong support

Members of the Queen’s University Pension Plan (QPP) have given their consent to move forward with the creation of a new jointly sponsored pension plan known as the University Pension Plan Ontario (UPP).

The results of Queen’s mail-in segment of the consent process were tabulated by a third-party, Mercer (Canada) Limited, which received consent ballots from non-represented members and objection ballots from inactive plan members over the past few months. The threshold required to achieve consent was two-thirds of active members indicating consent, and not more than one-third of inactive members filing their objection.

Combined with union consent provided on behalf of their members, both metrics were achieved. Consent thresholds were also met at the University of Toronto and University of Guelph, meaning consent was given to transition all of the universities’ existing pension plans into a single jointly sponsored pension plan, the UPP.

“Receiving the consent of our pension plan members is a major milestone and a critical step required by provincial regulators,” says Donna Janiec, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration). “It brings Queen’s and the Ontario university sector one step closer to a new, sustainable defined benefit pension plan for the future.”

The process of informing the Queen’s Pension Plan members and navigating the consent process is the culmination of many months of collaboration, consultation, and hard work on behalf of numerous stakeholders at the three universities. At Queen’s, the administration, the Queen’s University Faculty Association (QUFA), the United Steelworkers (USW), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA), and representatives of the non-unionized employees through the Ontario Association of Non-Unionized University Employees, all made efforts to support the UPP. The Retirees’ Association of Queen’s (RAQ) also helped in getting the message out to existing pensioners.

“Representatives from the university’s unions and the administration all worked hard to share information about the UPP across a multitude of communication channels in order to ensure people had the information they needed to make informed decisions about consenting to the change,” Janiec says. “We are truly grateful for everyone’s hard work.”

Moving to a jointly sponsored pension plan greatly helps the universities and ultimately their members; it eases some of the regulatory constraints faced by single-employer plans, mitigates risk, and creates a larger pool of money to invest for potentially better returns. It is an effort that is supported by the provincial government and is a model for some of Canada’s largest and most successful pension plans such as the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS).

The alternative, notes Janiec, was not status quo. A change was necessary if the Queen’s Pension Plan was to remain sustainable over the long term. And while achieving consent to proceed with the UPP is important, it is not the last step in the process.

The transfer of the existing pension plans into the UPP still involves several technical steps and additional approvals to proceed. The UPP is anticipated to be operational by July 1, 2021. It will be governed by both employers and plan members. Once established, other Ontario universities will have the option of joining.

For more information, please read the UPP Joint Communique or visit the UPP website at www.universitypension.ca

Campus Electricity Demand Reduction: Week of July 2

In order to reduce electricity costs and contribute to the sustainability of the province’s energy system, the university is once again participating in an electricity peak demand management program.

Due to increasing temperatures and humidity levels across the province, there are Electricity Demand Reductions forecast for July 3, 4 and 5. Attached is a notification bulletin detailing the forecast through July 6. A separate notification will be issued each of the next three mornings to either confirm or cancel the forecast reduction.

To learn more about the electricity peak demand reduction program, please visit the Queen’s Sustainability Office website. Those with questions may also contact Fixit at extension 77301 (internal), 613-533-6757 (external) or email.

University proposes new residence building for main campus

Visitors to the public information session were able to view a scale model, preliminary plans, and renderings of a student residence project which is being proposed to be built on university property along the west side of Albert Street. (University Communications)

Students may soon have a new residence building on Queen’s University’s main Kingston campus.  The project is in the early planning stages and still requires Board of Trustees approval to proceed.

Approximately 50 near-campus neighbours attended a public information session on Tuesday, June 25 to learn more about the project, which is being proposed to be built on university property along the west side of Albert Street, just south of Union Street across from Tindall Field. The site was identified for potential redevelopment in the university’s 2014Campus Master Plan. The size and location of the property made it the preferred location to allow for a roughly 300-bed, five-story complex that is complimentary with the surrounding neighbourhood.

The new residence is required to accommodate plans for modest enrollment growth as well as to provide a place to decant students from other residences as older buildings undergo renovations, such as the John Deutsch University Centre (JDUC) renovation, which, once it begins, will displace nearly 100 residential units. The new building will enable Queen’s to continue to meet its commitment to provide residential living to all first-year students while still accommodating some upper year students.

The project team is working closely with the city to ensure factors such as heritage elements, neighbourhood integration, and environmental stewardship are addressed in the plan. The university has also made efforts to reach out and inform the local community early.

“As a neighbor, it is important to share our concepts for this build with the local community as early in the process as possible,” said Donna Janiec, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration). “It provides an opportunity for input as we are a ways off from finalizing plans- the Board will not review the proposal until after the fall term begins in September.”

There are currently five houses on the site and Queen’s is working with occupants to find alternate solutions.

While none of the buildings are currently designated as heritage sites, Janiec points out that the university is still planning to take a creative approach to preserve some of the unique look and feel of the area by retaining and incorporating two of the existing buildings into the design and to retaining the existing boulevard trees.

“As a leader promoting sustainability on campus and in the community, it is important that we strive for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification in all our new builds,” notes Janiec.

She also points out there will be no food service outlet in the residence, limiting the number of deliveries to the building.

The university’s Capital Assets and Finance Committee must still approve the business plan before the project can proceed to the Board of Trustees for approval, anticipated in September 2019.

If the plan is approved, construction is anticipated to start in the spring/summer of 2020.

Queen’s University and PSAC Local 901 ratify first collective agreement for Graduate Research Assistants

Queen’s University, and the Public Service Alliance of Canada and its Local 901 (Unit1) (“PSAC”), have successfully ratified a tentative agreement for a first collective agreement for graduate students employed as research assistants (“Graduate Research Assistants”). Read more

University, CUPE Locals 229, 254, and 1302 ratify collective agreements

The tentative collective agreements between Queen’s University and the three CUPE Locals (229, 254 and 1302) are now in effect. The ratification also included support for the University Pension Plan (UPP).  Read more

Provost provides tuition reduction update

The following is an update from Interim Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Tom Harris to Queen’s faculty and staff regarding the Government of Ontario’s plan to cut tuition fees at post-secondary institutions.

Dear Colleagues,

As you know, the Government of Ontario is implementing a 10 per cent tuition reduction in 2019-20 and a tuition freeze in 2020-21 for domestic students in funding-eligible programs. The tuition reduction will affect fees in undergraduate and graduate programs across the university. As a result of these changes, Queen’s 2019-20 operating revenue will decrease by $31.4 million relative to projections made in December 2018. This decrease will be followed by another $7 million reduction next year, as tuition fees remain frozen in 2020-21. As the percentage of domestic students in funding-eligible programs varies across faculties and schools, the impact of the tuition cut is unevenly distributed across academic units.

Over the past several weeks, I have worked with the university’s leadership team to identify the best path forward for Queen’s. The decision-making process was guided by a set of principles developed in consultation with Principal Daniel Woolf to ensure we remain focused on our core academic mission of excellence in teaching, research, and service to our communities. The senior leadership team worked together to develop a strategy that was sustainable for our faculties, schools, and central service units, and to ensure that our response would minimize, as much as possible, the impact of the cuts on our faculty, staff, and students.

Principal Woolf has approved the following steps, to be taken in 2019-20, to offset the reduction in tuition revenue:

  • We will continue to advance our internationalization efforts by modestly expanding our international student recruitment targets. In the last two years, international student intake made-up between 10.4 and 11.5 per cent of first-year enrolment; our goal is to increase this to approximately 15 per cent in 2019-20. Carefully planned international enrolment growth has been a priority at Queen’s for several years, as outlined in our Strategic Framework (2014-19) and our Comprehensive International Plan (2015-19). Our international recruitment strategy has enabled small year-over-year increases since 2012 when international students comprised just 3 per cent of the incoming class. We have a broad range of transition and support services available to our international students, and we will assess what additional supports may be needed for our faculty, staff, and students as a result of the continued growth of our international student complement. As always, all applicants to Queen’s will be assessed against our usual admission standards.
  • Some undergraduate enrolment intake will be reallocated, resulting in a slight shift in enrolment from the Faculty of Arts and Science to the Smith School of Business, the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, and the Faculty of Health Sciences.
  • Central services will forgo a previously planned base budget increase of 2 per cent. As a result, some central service activities may be impacted.
  • Where possible, units will draw-down a portion of their budget carry-forwards to help offset decreases in revenue. Allocations will also be made from the University Fund to support the academic units that are least able to respond to the revenue reduction.

By modestly expanding our international student recruitment targets and redistributing enrolment across faculties and schools, our projected revenue for 2019-20 will increase by 4 per cent over 2018-19. While our strategy to respond to the tuition cut will ensure that the 2019-20 operating budget is balanced (after the draw-down of reserves), the provincial government’s new tuition framework presents significant long-term financial challenges for the university.

Over the past several years, Queen’s has maintained a strong financial position, with year-over-year operating revenue increases exceeding 6 per cent in the last two years. This is reflected in the recent reaffirmation by DBRS of the university’s high bond rating. That said, the compounding effects of the tuition cut and subsequent freeze, combined with some uncertainty regarding the prospect of future enrolment growth under the next Strategic Mandate Agreement, will limit our previously planned increases in revenue. As a result, some of the university’s long-term strategic priorities may need to be scaled back unless alternative revenue sources are secured.  

The Deans, Vice-Principals, and Vice-Provosts are in the process of developing their portfolio budgets for 2019-20, and I anticipate that they will communicate any relevant details to their units once the Board of Trustees approves the university’s operating budget in May. The budget development process for 2020-21 will begin in summer 2019, and Principal-Designate Patrick Deane’s strategic priorities will influence long-term budget planning.

In addition to reducing tuition fees, the provincial government is implementing changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) and the ancillary fee structure, allowing students to opt-out of some fees. Queen’s will work to help support students who may have their access to university affected by the OSAP changes, and the leadership team is working with the Alma Mater Society (AMS) and Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) to understand the impact of the new ancillary fee regulations.


Professor Tom Harris

Interim Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic)


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