Rector Role Description

1. Role Summary

The position of Rector is unique to Queen's among all Canadian universities. The Rector tradition was passed to Queen's from the University of Edinburgh, with the first Rector taking office in 1913 and the first student Rector taking office in 1969. The Rector of Queen's is the third officer of the University, after the Chancellor and Principal.

Queen’s University Rector is a student, elected by all students for a three year term, in accordance with the By-laws of the University Council (By-Law F: Election of the Rector), although by convention most Rectors step-down after two years of service.

The central role of the Rector is to act as an advocate and a facilitator of dialogue regarding students’ needs, opinions, and views with the university’s senior administration. The Office of the Rector is an important resource for the Queen’s student community in helping them understand the university’s administrative structure and how to obtain student-specific resources and services. 

While the Office is a confidential space in which all Queen’s students may share their concerns and experiences, it is not the sole source of support for students, nor should it be relied upon by students for individual representation or advocacy.  Rather, the Office facilitates connections between students and university resources appropriate to their needs, while also providing information to senior leaders on trends across the student body with respect to these needs.

Support for the Rector is provided by the University Secretariat.  Such support typically includes that related to office administration, budget administration, and the Tricolour Award, as well as other administrative assistance as requested. Support to the Rector may also be found within the meetings of the University Rector Advisory Committee.

2. Key responsibilities and expectations

While the role of Rector provides scope for its incumbent to focus on current student issues, the following are the traditional functions of the role.

a.     Serves as a student representative of the university’s Board of Trustees (and associated committees of the Board) and as an official observer of the university’s Senate. The Rector also manages invitations to university-wide task forces, advisory committees, and working groups.

b.     Participates in many ceremonial functions, including Convocation and the conferring of awards.  In concert with the Chancellor and Principal, the Rector presides over all convocation ceremonies at Queen’s.  The Rector leads the Chancellor’s procession, delivers brief remarks to the graduating class. Additionally, the Rector participates in photographs with each Honorary Degree recipient and attends convocation luncheons with distinguished guests and convocation speakers. 

c.      Serves as Chair of the Agnes Benidickson Tricolour Award Selection Committee and has responsibility for all processes related to the Award, including the nomination and selection process, the organization of the annual Tricolour Society Reception, and the presentation of the Tricolour Award to recipients.

d.     Works with students’ organizations and participates on numerous student government bodies, including AMS Assembly (non-voting observer), SGPS Council (non-voting observer), and Presidents’ Caucus, as well as, round tables, advocacy summits, and public speaking opportunities.

e.     Acts as a key liaison between students and the university’s senior administration, articulating and amplifying important issues, opinions, views, and encouraging university wide dialogue on issues that are important to student success.

f.      Manages the Office of the University Rector, including its budget, its website and social media accounts, its administrative records, and the Rector Bursary, with the support of staff in the University Secretariat.

3. Special Skills

The following are skills and abilities that would support success in the role:

  • Proven leadership experience and ability to work under pressure to tight deadlines, prioritizing and completing tasks.
  • Must be able to develop and maintain strong working relationships with a wide range of stakeholders across the university and community
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills (both verbal and written) as the position interacts with many different individuals in a variety of contexts. High degree of comfort with public speaking in front of various audiences is needed.
  • Must be objective, fair, impartial, and flexible without compromising standards and established policies.
  • Strong analytical and interpretive skills with the ability to synthesize information from a wide variety of sources.
  • Good working knowledge of social media platforms, along with Microsoft Office, and Webpublish.  Ability to adapt to and implement new technologies.
  • Knowledge of university structure, policy, and administrative systems, or willingness to learn.

4. Election and Eligible Candidates

The by-laws of University Council delegate the process of the election of a Rector to the Alma Mater Society and the Society of Graduate and Professional Students.  The Rector’s election typically takes place in the winter term, every two years, and all registered Queen’s students are eligible to vote.

The election process consists of a nomination period, candidate validation, campaigning, and voting. Candidates must abide by the University Rector Elections Policy and Procedures, as maintained by the Alma Mater Society.  Students who are either a member of the Alma Mater Society or the Society of Graduate and Professional Students are eligible to run for the position of Rector.

All candidates must be in good academic standing per the academic regulations of their home Faculty/School and enrolled in the equivalent of at least one full-year course, or two half-year courses, or the equivalent for graduate students.

The role of University Rector is ideally suited for an upper-year student (completion of two years of study at the undergraduate level) or graduate / professional student based on the demands of the role as well as the development of understanding of the governance and decision-making structures of the University that would be necessary to fulfill all duties.  The role requires a commitment of 2 years from the successful candidate. The nature of the role may result in the choice of an individual to take a reduced course load; however, the Rector is a student first.  The expectation is that the Rector will prioritize their academic career over and above the duties of Rector. A record of academic proficiency at Queen’s is strongly recommended to balance competing demands and ensure academic success.

The Rector’s term typically runs from May 1 to April 30.  Although University Council’s by-laws outline a three-year term, there is a convention of rectors resigning after the completion of two years in office.

Remuneration 2023

Stipend: $7,000/year 

Full Tuition: Regardless of program

Meal Plan: Annual 320 ($4,050) or equivalent

Time commitment

15 hours/week – recommended

This role will require occasional travel and require the incumbent to occasionally expend effort over flexible hours, including on evenings and weekends.