About that bold plan . . .
Never has the motto ”Doctrina et Sapientia Stabilitas” meant more. Our new Academic Plan, a milestone document in the University’s history, promises to provide stability and direction in these troubled times.
Just over two years ago, in January 2010, I presented Where Next?, my vision for Queen’s, to the campus community. Its purpose was to stimulate ideas and discussions that would culminate in the creation of a comprehensive, imaginative and far-reaching academic plan for the University.
I am delighted to report that this is exactly the document Senate unanimously passed at its November meeting. For the first time in recent memory, Queen’s has a map to guide us as we move forward.
That the Academic Plan was adopted by a vote of 52-0 speaks volumes about the ability of our community to work through differences, have debates, make compromises, and – despite tough financial times – keep our core mission of learning and discovery at the forefront.
A great deal of work, involving literally hundreds of people, has led us to this milestone. Over many months, there was widespread community consultation and outreach that included dozens of meetings with, and hundreds of submissions from individuals and groups as well as several town halls. An Academic Writing Team of six faculty members and then a Senate Task Force of faculty, staff, and students devoted significant time and energy to articulating priority areas and recommendations for the University that support the student learning experience, disciplinarity and interdisciplinarity, globalism, diversity, inclusion, and health, wellness and community.
I’ve never experienced a more open and inclusive exercise at any university, and I believe that our Academic Plan is an enormous step forward for Queen’s.
Like many of our peer institutions, we have been tackling long-term and sector-wide financial challenges, rising costs, increasing competition, the need to modernize our infrastructure, and an equally compelling need to keep our curricula and methods of delivery up to date. This academic plan gives us a consensus-based guide for the hundreds of decisions that are made every day in every corner of the campus. Rather than imposing particular practices, the new plan identifies important principles that we share institutionally and externally.
What it does not do is bind deans, faculties or departments to particular courses of action, nor to particular budgetary decisions. It will provide guidance for the alignment of scarce resources, but it is emphatically not, and never has been, a “cost-cutting measure.” To the contrary, many of its principles will require us to reallocate existing funds and expand our revenue generation activity – not least, including our appeal to you, our alumni.
Queen’s must continue to adhere to our brand and resist being pushed into things that don’t fit our vision for our future.
For great institutions such as Queen’s to succeed, we need more than our resolve and a well-charted route. We also need the resources to enable us to fulfill our mandate and mission. The support of alumni and friends – as volunteers, advisors, participants and donors – is essential if we are to continue to distinguish ourselves.
Echoing University historian Duncan McDowall, Arts’72, MA’74, Queen’s must continue to adhere to our brand and resist being pushed into things that don’t fit our vision for our future. While it will certainly allow for unanticipated but necessary course corrections (one cannot anticipate every future circumstance or opportunity) our Academic Plan should keep us sailing in the right direction. That direction will necessarily demand changes in the ways in which we teach and in how our students learn. Doubtless, it will also require changes and efficiencies in the ways we do administrative business. It will not, and should not, change the fundamental character of Queen’s.
Under the leadership of Provost Alan Harrison and our Deans, the University’s budget framework will be revised and aligned to reflect the Plan’s goals and values. As part of our ongoing planning efforts, an annual Senate task force of students, staff, and faculty will consider a new issue or set of issues recommended by the task force of the previous year. Finally, we will be using the Academic Plan to develop a number of complementary documents, including a new Strategic Research Plan, a new Campus Plan, and an updated International Strategy.
In short, we have now arrived at a clear sense of next steps for Queen’s. To move this great University – our University – forward, we will need the support, encouragement, and goodwill of you and other alumni. Please consider getting involved.