Office of the Principal and Vice-Chancellor

[Principal and Vice Chancellor]
[Principal and Vice Chancellor]

March 2015: End-of-term message to students

Dear students,

With the last day of classes now just days away and exams on the horizon for many of you, I want to wish you all the best for the final push.

Without a doubt, this can be a stressful time of year. When I was a Queen’s student, I remember avoiding some of the larger study areas on campus like the ‘Harry Potter room’ (which went by another name in my day –'the reserve reading room'--much less catchy) at exam time in favour of smaller spaces in Mac-Corry or Watson Hall where I could better find my focus.

As difficult as it can sometimes feel, I’ve always believed that a little stress can be a good motivator: if we didn’t feel it, we wouldn’t make the extra effort we need to succeed. Stress can help us get off the couch and pursue our goals. If it starts to feel paralyzing, however, it may be time to ask for help.

When we’re feeling anxious or stressed, oftimes the thing we are most worried about is failure. If you are used to achieving at a high level, the prospect of failing to reach that mark  can be hard to take.

But consider the following: sometimes, despite our best efforts, things don’t turn out the way we planned. I certainly had my share of disappointments during my own academic career, including getting some very poor grades on several tests or essays during my second year, one of which was in my favourite course. While it was a blow, the experience strengthened my resolve to improve (visit my blog for more).

If things don’t feel as if they are going as planned right now, I urge you to keep going. Push forward and learn everything you can along the way. To quote the English graphic novelist Neil Gaiman, “you will learn more from a glorious failure than you ever will from something you never finished.”

With the finish line in sight, I urge you to stay open-minded and positive, and make your very best efforts over the next few weeks. If there is one thing I have learned over the years, it’s that worrying rarely makes anything better! I also hope that you will take the time to acknowledge and celebrate everything you have accomplished this academic year – both individually and as a member of the Queen’s community.

From installing a new Chancellor at the university’s helm and formally opening the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, to welcoming distinguished visitors like Premier Kathleen Wynne and Nobel Prize laureate Roald Hoffmann, and triumphing on the playing field, it has been a busy year for the university.  We have much to be proud of. I also want to thank those of you who provided the university’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Working group with input as they continue their work of developing a sexual assault policy for Queen’s, as well as for your continued feedback on the revitalization of Richardson Stadium. If you haven’t yet had a chance to weigh in, please do so via our dedicated Richardson Stadium website – after all, it’s your stadium. This is your chance to help shape its future.

In a similar vein, I have struck an Advisory Committee on Responsible Investing to examine a request from a student group, Queen’s Backing Action on Climate Change (QBACC), for the university to divest its non-pension investments from companies engaged in fossil fuel extraction or distribution. The committee is now seeking input from the Queen’s community. I anticipate a final report from them by the end of September.

I wish you all the best for the upcoming exam period and for the adventures that await you in the months and years to come.


Daniel Woolf (Artsci ’80)
Principal and Vice Chancellor