Rector Announcement

April 30, 2021

Students, colleagues, and friends,

I openly write this letter to you, my community, to share that I will be stepping down from the office and position of Rector effective May 1, 2021. I have had the immense pleasure to serve in both formal settings with University Administration and as a fellow student traversing a year with innumerable obstacles. In my efforts to serve I undoubtedly missed many signs of my mental health struggles and difficulties completing academic work. It is in the best interest of the future of the Office and my own personal wellbeing that this decision is being made and I want to thank you in advance for you support and understanding.

With all this to say I think there have been many successes to be shared from this year. With new student government and faculty teams demanding more and an administration that has begun to bend towards progress I could not have chosen a better time to sit in the third-highest Office at Queen’s University. We saw a year of missed in-person graduation celebrations, balancing wellbeing, and safety with educational prowess, financial strain, and job loss, and calls for the dismantling and rebuilding of an institution based in racial injustice and hatred. The sheer stamina and courage of our student, faculty, and staff continues to uplift and inspire me and will indeed be there felt for generations to come.

Considering the circumstances of which I am leaving I want to ensure folks that this will not be the end of my support for the Office of the Rector and what it stands for. While I may not have been able to make all the progress I had once envisioned, my hopes are for a progressive and fruitful election cycle.  And I am committed to this transition and working to reinvigorate the stature and structure of this unique one-person office to Canadian academia and student life.

Beyond this is a plea to reach out and make the often-difficult decision of asking for help. University culture demands a certain amount of excellence but should also be embracing the power of admitting weakness and fault. No one person is perfect, and I have finally entered a place where I am learning to embrace that.

I want to thank everyone who has been there for me on this journey and those who will continue the important work beyond my departure. I am so fortunate to have had this experience.

At your service,

Sam Hiemstra
37th Rector

"Princeps Servusque Es" (Be a leader and a servant) is the motto of the Office of the Rector, and truly embodies what the Rector strives to do for Queen's students.

Fall Convocation with form Rector Alex Da Silva, November 2018 (Photo by Garrett Elliott)So, you might be wondering: "What does the Rector do?" The position of Rector is one that is unique to Queen’s University and, as such, people often require clarification on the specific responsibilities of the person holding this position.

As the motto "Princeps Servusque Es" (Be a leader and a servant) would suggest, the office of the Rector exists for the purpose of serving the student body of Queen's University.

The Rector:

  • serves as the representative of all Queen’s University undergraduate and graduate students to the institution in matters pertaining to education.
  • acts to support and mentor student representation and to enhance the broader learning environment.
  • serves on university governing bodies, including the Board of Trustees and Senate, and on numerous committees.
  • voices student concerns and promotes educational excellence. 
  • acts as an advisor to and advocate for students in grievance procedures.
  • promotes scholarly dialogue amongst students – notably through public speaker forums on topical issues.
  • participates in many ceremonial functions, including convocations and conferring of awards.
  • serves a confidential support for all Queen's students, regardless of what students might be struggling with.