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Financial Sustainability

Creating the future workforce

NSERC’s CREATE Program supports Queen’s researchers in student training.

Two Queen’s University researchers are leading groups that have been awarded a combined $3.3 million in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) as part of their Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) Program to provide innovative training to students in the areas of photonics, and water sustainability.

The CREATE program will provide groups led by Queen’s associate professors James Fraser (Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy) and Stephen Brown (Chemistry) with support for the training of teams of highly qualified students through the development of innovative training programs, and facilitate the transition of new researchers from trainees to productive employees in the Canadian workforce.

“The CREATE program highlights the often inextricable link between research and student training,” says Jim Banting, Acting Vice-Principal (Research). “Impressively, Queen’s secured two of 18 CREATE grants distributed nationwide, and we look forward to seeing the unique and transferable learning and training opportunities presented to the undergraduates and graduate students who participate in the MAPS and LEADERS projects.”

Dr. Fraser will receive $1,649,185 over six years for his CREATE – Materials for Advanced Photonics and Sensing (CREATE-MAPS) project, which will provide 42 graduate students and 22 undergraduate students with comprehensive training designed to help them compete in a photonics industry that has been experiencing unprecedented international growth. Demand for photonic materials and their manufacturing – including novel light sources, optical sensors, and more – has grown from a $2.5 billion global industry in 2011, to a $10.9 billion industry in 2017.

Dr. Brown has been awarded $1,650,000 over six years for his Leaders in water and watershed sustainability (The LEADERS Project), which will bring 44 graduate students and 24 undergraduate students to the forefront of water research through interdisciplinary approaches to developing water-related science and policy. The project will ensure students develop the broad base of skills required of contemporary water professionals – including working with environmental samples and data, liaising with stakeholders and presenting expert information clearly, and working with sustainability programs and environmental assessments. Industry experts are predicting a five per cent annual growth in the $2 billion environmental consulting and services sector, with a demand for 500,000 new employees in the sector.

The NSERC CREATE grants were announced by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, at the Université de Sherbrooke in Sherbrooke, Québec on July 16.

For more information on the program and for a full list of recipients, please visit the NSERC website.

Updated: Campus Electricity Demand Reduction Notification - June 25-29, 2018

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 reduction program.

Due to high temperatures and humidity across the province, today (Friday, June 29) will be an electricity peak demand reduction day.

If a reduction is confirmed for July 2 while the university is closed in observance of Canada Day, buildings with conference or program bookings will be exempted from the reduction on this date. A separate notice will be issued on Tuesday morning to either confirm or cancel the reduction for July 3.

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.

Budget 2018-19 approved by Board

The new budget allocates new funding for research, accessibility, and faculty hires.

The Queen’s Board of Trustees recently approved the 2018-19 operating budget. This year’s plan will see the university deliver another balanced budget, while also investing in a range of strategic priorities.

“This budget once again affords us the ability to invest in major institutional priorities, such as faculty renewal, research excellence, and diversity and inclusivity,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “While we continue to face some pressures around our pension and facilities maintenance, the hard work of the last several years has provided stability and a promising future for Queen’s.”

After contributions to the pension reserve there is a budgeted deficit of $7.7 million, which is then offset by the drawdown of operating carryforward reserves resulting in a balanced budget.

While the majority of the budget allocations cover ongoing expenses including salaries, utilities, and building maintenance, the university has allocated some discretionary funds towards key institutional priorities.

Growing Our Community

In 2018-19, the university will continue recruiting new faculty as part of the Principal’s faculty renewal initiative. This plan calls for the hiring of 200 tenured or tenure-track faculty members over five years.
“The Principal’s faculty renewal plan represents an extraordinary opportunity to recruit faculty to Queen’s with diverse backgrounds, experiences and research areas,” says Tom Harris, Interim Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “We have already been very successful in attracting talented and accomplished faculty members, allowing us to build on our research strengths, and foster diversity, inclusivity, and reconciliation.”

In response to a recent accessibility audit, this year’s budget also includes some funding dedicated to making campus more accessible. In addition to the annual funding dedicated to deferred maintenance, the university is allocating $250,000 to make accessibility improvements across campus.

This accessibility funding will also complement the three years of diversity and inclusivity funding that was announced as part of last year’s budget. The 2017-18 budget pledged $3 million over three years to foster inclusivity at Queen’s.

Research and Innovation

Recognizing the importance of Queen’s research, the 2018-19 budget makes a few specific and deliberate investments in Queen’s research strengths.

“Queen’s has a long history of pioneering discoveries and innovations that have shaped our knowledge and helped address some of the world’s deepest mysteries and most pressing questions,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “Importantly, these new funds will help us build on our research strengths and continue to strengthen our research culture.”

Among the new investments is a Research Catalyst fund within the Vice-Principal (Research) portfolio. This $600,000 annual fund will be used to support emerging and strategic research opportunities.

The budget also allocates $7 million to create a new Research Intensity fund. This annual fund is designed to support the indirect costs of conducting research, and addresses a recommendation stemming from the review of the budget model.

Financial Sustainability

There are many ongoing challenges which the university is addressing through targeted investments.

Queen’s continues to contribute to a pension reserve, while it remains in negotiations to create a new jointly sponsored pension plan for the Ontario university sector, along with partners at the University of Toronto and the University of Guelph.

Additionally, the institution has earmarked an additional $750,000 for facility repairs and upgrades. Queen’s will spend a total of $11.9 million on deferred maintenance in 2018-19.

Risks to the budget include the dependence on government grants and regulated tuition and market volatility affecting university investments. In addition, future investments will be required to support information technology and infrastructure renewal. These risks are being closely managed and mitigated, and incremental investments in infrastructure are being made to ensure sustainability.

Learn More

To see this year’s budget, visit queensu.ca/financialservices/publications

Tragic loss inspires new fellowship at Queen’s

William J. Henderson Foundation donates $1 million to fight interstitial lung disease in honour of Ruth Pattenden.

Ruth and David Pattenden were supposed to make a quick trip to the doctor’s office to get Ruth’s blood test results and then have lunch. Instead, Ruth was sent to Kingston General Hospital for more tests.

[David Pattenden]
David Pattenden announces a new fellowship in honour of his late wife Ruth, during an event hosted at the New Medical Building on Friday, June 1. (University Communications)

“We knew she had sensitive lungs but we didn’t think it was anything serious,” says David, who was married to Ruth for 54 years. “Once we went to the hospital, she was put in a room immediately. She never came home.”

Three weeks later on Aug. 25, 2016, she was taken off life support due to complications from interstitial lung disease.

To help prevent the same tragedy from happening to others, the Ruth Pattenden Fellowship in Interstitial Lung Disease is being launched at Queen’s, thanks to a $1 million gift from the William J. Henderson Foundation.

“I was completely unaware of the disorder and how serious it was until I went through the terrible experience of losing my wife,” says David, who is a director of the William J. Henderson Foundation. “The foundation wanted to fund research that would have a practical and immediate impact on clinical care of interstitial lung disease.”

The disease is characterized by progressive scarring of lung tissue which makes it difficult to breath. Once the scarring occurs, it is irreversible. Medication may slow the damage, but people never regain the full use of their lungs.

The fellowship provides doctors with special training to diagnose and treat people with the disease.   

Dr. Diane Lougheed, chair of the Division of Respirology in the Department of Medicine at Queen's University and Kingston Health Sciences Centre, says the fellowship will allow doctors to provide better care.

"This fellowship will allow us to provide comprehensive clinical training to respirologists wishing to develop special expertise in all aspects of interstitial lung disease – from diagnosis to management, across the continuum of care from the ambulatory clinic to the hospital setting, including the intensive care unit,” says Dr. Lougheed.

It was an easy decision for the William J. Henderson Foundation trustees to create this new fellowship. The organization has a long history of supporting medical research at Queen’s. The foundation was set up by Judge William Henderson, a 1938 Queen’s Arts grad who passed away in 2006. Judge Henderson was grateful to Queen’s and local hospitals for the high quality of medical care he received later in life when he encountered health problems. Ruth Pattenden and Judge Henderson were also very close friends.

“If the judge were alive today, he certainly would have wanted to fund research on the disease that killed Ruth,” says David, who has five degrees from Queen’s (Arts'67, MA'69, Law'71, MEd'74, LLD'03).

Anyone wishing to support the Ruth Pattenden Fellowship in Interstitial Lung Disease can make a donation through the Give to Queen’s website.

This article originally appeared on the Queen’s Alumni website.

Summer sustainability

Queen’s takes part in a provincial program to reduce stress on the electricity grid by scheduling shut downs of air conditioning during peak times.

Queen’s is once again participating in Ontario’s Electricity Peak Demand Management Program this summer as part of its commitment to financial and environmental sustainability. The university has participated in this program since 2012.

Some air conditioning systems on campus will have scheduled shut down periods on some afternoons between May and September to reduce the university’s use of electricity on the Kingston grid. Programs like this are common for large electricity users such as Queen’s.

Physical Plant Services (PPS) will issue weekly updates to provide advance notice of expected shutdowns. The updates will also be posted on the Gazette and emailed to building managers for distribution to staff. The program will shut down air conditioning in some campus buildings from 3 to 9 pm on especially hot days throughout May, June, July, August, and the first week of September. These times are meant to coincide with expected peaks in provincial demand for electricity. The university is expecting to save over $3.6 million for the 2017-18 fiscal year through participating in this peak demand program.

“Our participation in this program promotes a sustainable energy system in Ontario by reducing the need for the province to purchase additional power, or build new power generating facilities, which can have both financial and environmental costs,” says Donna Janiec, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration). “The university has also saved an estimated $10.8 million dollars by participating in the program since 2012.”

Air conditioning will not be turned off in buildings that have classes scheduled, and PPS will coordinate with Event Services to minimize the effects on conferences held on campus.

Staff may notice temperature increases during the shutdown time. PPS will attempt to mitigate this by cooling the buildings affected prior to shutdown periods. Anyone with health and safety concerns can contact PPS FIXIT at 613-533-6757 (or internally at extension 77301) or by email.

Find out more about the program on the Queen’s Sustainability website.

University Pension Plan Ontario updated info available

Queen’s University, University of Guelph and University of Toronto, together with their faculty associations, the USW and other staff groups, have been working together to develop a new, Defined Benefit pension plan that would cover employees at all three universities – the University Pension Plan Ontario (UPP).

New information, including a fact sheet and a summary of key features on the University Pension Plan Ontario, is now available on the Pension Services webpage as well as on the University Pension Plan Ontario website.


Statement from Principal Woolf on provincial budget

Government of Ontario releases 2018 budget.

The 2018 Ontario budget proposes to continue the government's commitment to enhancing access to post-secondary education through the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), as well as further investments in the renewal of university and college classrooms and facilities, mental health services, skills development, and experiential learning.

Universities play a critical role in preparing the highly-skilled workforce that Ontario needs to remain globally-competitive. Queen’s will continue to encourage the government to make further investments to ensure the quality of education at Ontario’s universities and to support faculty renewal, innovation, and the development of new experiential learning opportunities for students.

Changes to capital project approval policy

Changes to the Capital Project Approval Policy and Procedures were approved at the March 2, 2018, meeting of the Board of Trustees.

Updates to the policy and procedures include an increase in the threshold for which Board of Trustees approval is required from $2.5 million to $5 million. Capital Projects with a budget between $2.5 million to $5 million will now be approved by the Vice-Principal’s Operations Committee, thus expediting the approval process. Other updates to the policy and procedures include earlier engagement with senior university leadership for major capital projects, as well as simplified processes and templates. Changes were informed through consultation with a number of internal stakeholder groups and external experts.

The revised policy improves the governance of major capital projects with early engagement of both internal and external governance bodies,” says Donna Janiec, Vice-Principal (Finance & Administration).  “The updated procedures also streamline the approval process and promote robust reporting practices for approved projects.”

For more information about the updates to the policy and procedures, check out the University Secretariat website or contact John Witjes, Associate Vice-Principal (Facilities).

University Pension Plan update

Queen's University is moving forward with plans to create a new type of pension plan for the Ontario university sector, along with partners the University of Toronto and the University of Guelph. Once it is up and running, it will be available to other Ontario universities as well.

University administrations, faculty associations, unions and other staff groups at all three institutions have been working diligently to develop a shared pension plan for employees at all three universities.

This new University Pension Plan, would be a multi-employer jointly sponsored pension plan (JSPP), a contributory defined benefit plan in which the employers and pension plan members share responsibility for plan governance and funding.

joint communication on the University Pension Plan Ontario can be found on a new University Pension Plan Ontario website. The website will provide all the latest information and other resources on the University Pension Plan.

Additional information specific to Queen’s employees will be made available over the next few months.


Report updates Queen’s Pension Plan deficit

New actuarial valuation estimates the pension plan’s ongoing deficit, while work continues on a University Pension Project.

An actuarial valuation on the Queen’s Pension Plan (QPP) has been completed as of August 2017 and will be presented for approval to the Pension Committee of the Board of Trustees at their upcoming meeting in March.  This report updates the results from the previous report issued in early 2015, as of August 2014.  Under provincial regulations, actuarial valuations must be filed with the provincial pensions regulator every three years.

The valuation examines the financial state of the pension plan on both a “going concern” basis, which assumes the plan continues to operate normally, and a “solvency” basis, which assumes the plan is closing today. As the plan sponsor, the university is required to make special payments into the plan if a deficit exists under either approach.

The 2017 valuation results set the QPP’s going concern deficit at $32 million, a large decrease from the $175 million in the 2014 report.  Much of this improvement is due to strong investment gains on pension plan assets over the past several years.  The solvency deficit remains significant, increasing slightly to $313 million from $285 million in 2014.

Under the solvency relief provisions, the university’s estimated annual special payments are expected to be $19 million per year starting in 2018, down slightly from the current $20.7 million per year.  Annual special payments of approximately $50 million per year would be required if no solvency relief program was in place.

“It’s important that Queen’s has a viable pension plan for all current and retired employees and Queen’s has been taking the necessary steps to ensure that the long term financial sustainability of the plan is being addressed in a responsible manner,” says Donna Janiec, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration). “At the same time, the university will continue to benefit from partial solvency relief from the province which will allow us to address our ongoing pension obligations while investing in other important university priorities, such as faculty renewal, inclusivity and diversity initiatives, and deferred maintenance.”

The university has been building a special reserve fund over the past three years to offset the impact of future solvency deficit payments or to potentially ease the transition to a new university sector jointly sponsored pension plan (JSPP). Contributions to the pension reserve will continue during the 2018-19 fiscal year, with a decision on future years to be made as part of the 2019-20 budget process.

At the same time, Queen’s is continuing to work with two other universities, including participating employee groups, and the provincial government on the creation of a multi-employer, jointly sponsored pension plan for the university sector in Ontario.  Queen’s, the University of Toronto, and the University of Guelph are now looking to finalize the outstanding design and governance elements of the project. All Ontario universities will have the option to join the JSPP once established.

More information about the Queen’s Pension Plan is available on the Human Resources website. Anyone with pension related-questions may contact Bob Weisnagel, Director, Pension Services by email or at ext. 74184.


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