Partnerships and Innovation

Office of Partnerships and Innovation
Office of Partnerships and Innovation

Striking The Right Chord - Queen's And Kingston Collaborate to Build a Better Community

Article Date:  May 5, 2012

Queen’s University affects almost every aspect of Kingston life. That’s hardly surprising considering students, faculty and staff numbering nearly 30,000 are directly involved with the city in some way. 

The relationship between Queen’s University and Kingston is inextricably linked. This is visibly demonstrated by the university’s sheer physical presence and size. Only a short walk from downtown, amidst Kingston’s oldest residential neighborhoods and another of the city’s venerable institutions — Kingston General Hospital — and with a clear view of beautiful Lake Ontario, Queen’s commands attention. Since it was founded 171 years ago, the university has sought and gained support from its chosen city; and Queen’s has given back. Queen’s University affects almost every aspect of Kingston life. That’s hardly surprising considering students, faculty and staff numbering nearly 30,000 are directly involved with the city in some way. Factor in their family members, as well as people who work for companies that supply goods and services to the campus, and it is undeniable that Queen’s is a key factor in the lives of many Kingston residents. Tricolour threads run deep through the city’s fabric.

When Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Alan Harrison came to his role in 2011, he quickly recognized the continued need to deepen dialogue with city officials, particularly in the current economic climate. Factors such as the provincial government’s recent austerity budget, ongoing questions about tuition, and an increasingly competitive environment for student and faculty recruitment all have either direct or indirect impact on the city and the university.

“Queen’s University faces a difficult financial future. In response we are doing things differently to ensure we continue to support and enhance the student learning experience. Most of what we are doing in some way both affects and relies on the support of the Kingston community,” says Provost Harrison.

Over the years, the city has supported several Queen’s capital projects. Principal George Munro Grant appealed to Kingston during the university’s very lean times in the late 19th century. In 1903, City Council donated funds to erect Kingston Hall, and in 1931 contributed a large sum to its repair after the building was ravaged by fire. Through the years, Queen’s and Kingston have negotiated countless agreements to accommodate the university’s planning and building needs. Such giving spirit is still very much alive and well, although with a new Queen’s business model that embraces business partnership and collaboration. Case in point, the Isabel Bader Centre for Performing Arts is currently under construction, jointly funded by the province, the city, Queen’s benefactors. Alfred and Isabel Bader, and with the support of Canada’s Infrastructure Stimulus Fund. Once the Centre is opened, the university will offer artistic programming to a new group of aspiring artists, and the city will increase its cultural offerings, growing cultural tourism and generating significant economic benefits for local residents.

“Changing world dynamics demand response from both the city and Queen’s,” says Kingston’s Chief Administrative Officer, Gerard Hunt. “We need to foster opportunities that the new economy offers us. The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts is an excellent example of what we can accomplish in this new model.” Provost Harrison and Mr. Hunt have championed further collaboration on a number of fronts, including traffic calming on campus, the Climate Action Plan, student experiential learning, talent retention, and public transportation development. John Paul Shearer, Business Development Director, Kingston Economic Development Corporation, points to another development shaping up in Kingston: Williamsville Main Street, the 1.7 km portion of Princess Street between Division Street and the Bath Road/Concession Street intersection. Mr. Shearer envisions Queen’s will have a significant presence there, as housing for graduate students and Queen’s employees is developed, and with the already established Innovation Park, which is home to several spinoff Queen’s research entities.

“Queen’s has identified a student housing strategy as a major element of its Campus Master Plan, ensuring adequate and appropriate housing to meet the university’s future enrollment while respecting the nature and benefit of a mixed neighbourhood in proximity to the school,” says Jo-Anne Brady, Queen’s Vice-Provost (Planning and Budgeting). “The university supports the Williamsville study which points to the potential for private residential development for Queen’s students, staff and faculty. We have struck an advisory committee to oversee the Campus Master Plan planning and communication process over the next 12 months.” There is no denying the depth and breadth of this relationship guiding both the city and the university into the future.