University Councillor Role Description

As approved by the University Council on November 14, 2020 (updated March 2024)

The University Council was established in 1874 as a body to review and discuss matters of mutual interest to the Board of Trustees, Senate, and the graduates regarding the prosperity and welfare of the University. The Council serves as both an advisory and an ambassadorial body to the University as a whole and is responsible for the election of the Chancellor. The Council is governed by a series of by-laws, which exist in concert with the Royal Charter and other applicable governance documents.

Click here to learn more about University Council's history.

Key Responsibilities

  • University Councillors act as key Ambassadors engaging in the promotion of the interests of Queen’s University.
  • Councillors also represent alumni as advisors to the University by bringing alumni perspectives to Council’s Annual General Meeting (AGM).
  • Councillors’ time, talent, and insight will help shape and advance the University’s strategic priorities.
  • Councillors are presented with the opportunity to represent the University Council and connect with alumni, University administrators, and other key partners.

Skills/Competencies Required

  • Relationship Builder: Builds and actively maintains working relationships and/or networks of contacts to further the university’s goals.
  • Team player: Establishes and maintains effective working relationships with others. Works cooperatively to accomplish shared goals and objectives, and values the diversity of others and their perspectives.
  • Influencer: Gains support and convinces others to advance the objectives of the organization.
  • Strong written and oral communications skills: Engages in effective and meaningful conversations with a variety of University stakeholders on a regular basis.


  • Ambassador: As an Ambassador for Queen’s University, Councillors are expected to stay abreast of current events and news from Queen’s and in the post-secondary sector in general. Councillors will receive periodic emails from the University regarding special announcements, general updates, or invitations to attend special events. In addition, Councillors are expected to subscribe, review, and share Queen’s publications and social media to remain knowledgeable about resources, services, and benefits offered to alumni through the Alumni Association. As ambassadors, Councillors are expected to represent and support Queen’s in diverse ways. Each Councillor is requested to actively seek out opportunities and to initiate informal conversations with alumni, students, volunteers, donors, and other supporters of Queen’s that encourage them toward deeper engagement with Queen’s.
  • Governance: As an advisory body, the University Council participates in Queen’s governance processes along with the Board of Trustees and the Senate. Councillors can stay informed of recent governance activity at the University by reviewing open session materials from both the Board of Trustees and the Senate on the Governance Portal.
  • AGM: Attend and actively participate in the Annual General Meeting (AGM), held once a year, typically in November, the date of which is set a minimum of one year in advance. (Note that in accordance with Bylaw C, section 10, the Executive Committee may, at its discretion, ask Councillors who have not participated in-person or remotely at more than one AGM to forfeit their membership on the Council.)
  • Elections: Elections internal to the University Council are conducted at various points during the year and Councillors are expected to participate in the nomination process and voting. Councillors are notified via email of election opportunities when a call for nominations is issued and when polls are open for voting. All correspondence and voting are done online.
  • Events: Councillors represent University Council and Queen’s University by attending, participating in, and/or promoting various events, such as the Distinguished Service Awards (DSA) Reception, Alumni Volunteer Summit, Alumni Awards Gala, Homecoming, and Alumni Branch events, Faculty/School and student events.
  • Recruit/Nominate: As a Councillor and an ambassador of the University, Councillors are encouraged to identify and encourage excellence by recruiting and/or nominating alumni for an election to the University Council, volunteer opportunities, and recognition awards (i.e. DSA, honorary degrees).
  • Surveys: Throughout the year, effectiveness surveys and questionnaires on Council-related matters will be circulated and it is expected that all Councillors complete these and provide their feedback by the designated deadline.
  • Annual Giving: Councillors are expected to demonstrate leadership and set an example for fellow alumni by making a charitable contribution to support Queen’s philanthropic priorities. The Council aspires to a 100% participation rate of giving, at a level that is meaningful to each Councillor, on an annual basis. In the absence of any personal interest or commitment, Councillors are encouraged to direct their gifts to the University Council Bursary, which assists students in financial need.
  • Committees: Councillors may serve on Council committees and/or task forces as well as other University advisory groups. There is also an annual opportunity for Councillors to be elected to the Board of Trustees (see “elections” above). Council’s standing committees meet separately on variable schedules during the year, dependent on their respective mandates, which are subject to change to meet the evolving needs of Council. The University Council has three standing committees: Executive Committee, Nominating Committee, and Program Committee. Occasionally, special purpose committees are established. Committee work is typically conducted via Zoom. Meetings are scheduled to ensure maximum member availability.
  • Personal Engagement Plan: Although the mission to promote and represent Queen’s is universal for the Council, the practical expression of the role may look different for each Councillor depending on location, expertise, personal/professional network, and availability. Councillors are expected to develop and maintain a Personal Engagement Plan as both a self-assessment tool, and a tool to help the University match councillors with projects and initiatives within the University that align with their skills, experiences and interests.

Time and Financial Commitment

  • As a Councillor, engagement in the work of the Council and the life of the University is integral to a successful term on the University Council, but the time commitment is manageable and predictable.
  • Councillors are expected to attend and participate in the AGM. New Councillors are expected to attend a virtual Orientation.
  • Based on meeting schedules and other duties, University Councillors can expect an average monthly time commitment of two to four hours.
  • Councillors are elected by and from Queen’s Alumni for four-year terms, and are eligible for re-election for a maximum of 12 years of continuous service.
  • Councillors are expected to demonstrate leadership and set an example for fellow Alumni by making a charitable contribution to support Queen’s philanthropic priorities.


Councillors are expected to attend the AGM in-person. Elected members of the Council who are absent from more than one Annual Meeting in a four-year term may be required to forfeit membership in the Council. Councillors are responsible for coordinating and booking their own travel arrangements. The University Council is a volunteer organization and, as such, Councillors are expected to incur their own participation expenses. Councillors are eligible to donate their participation expenses back to the University, for which an official receipt is issued for tax purposes. Councillors who do not believe they can meet these expectations are encouraged to raise their concerns with the Secretary of the University Council.

Staff Partnership

Should you have any questions regarding the experience of being a member of the University Council, the Secretariat would be pleased to coordinate an opportunity for interested individuals to speak with a current Councillor.

If you have further questions, please contact