Queen's University

A bold plan: It all starts with a clear vision

A staff member of the Senate's Academic Plan Task Force who's new to Queen's offers his insights into the plan and its importance to the University.

As we embarked on our mission to write an academic plan for Queen’s, the task force recognized very early that one of our biggest challenges would be to create a plan that was applicable to the entire University, while respecting the unique nature and autonomy of each academic unit –the Faculties, Schools, and Departments.

[photo of biology Professor Fernand Gauthier teaching students]Prof. Fernand Gauthier teaching students in his Biology 206
course, evolutionary genetics.

Queen’s is a large and complex organization, and that made this a daunting task. We wanted all groups and members of the Queen’s community to see themselves in the plan – students, faculty, administrators, and support staff. This is where three important elements of the plan come into play: the vision statement, the guiding principles, and our four-pillar framework

The vision statement we crafted – “Queen’s University is the Canadian research-intensive university with a transformative student learning experience” – speaks to what our consultations with the Queen’s community told us our University should stand for – that is an academy that balances teaching and research and maintains a strong focus on developing students for success beyond their time at Queen’s. This vision reflects our history of developing leaders for the world, and the Academic Plan provides the roadmap to continue this achievement through the 21st century.

Fostering enthusiasm and passion for learning is the essence of the Queen’s academic plan.

Early in the development of the plan, the task force members drafted a set of guiding principles for the University. Like the vision statement, these principles emphasize what is valued at Queen’s, while providing more specific guidance than a vision statement can accomplish. The principles have broad applicability across the University and place an emphasis on things such as developing core skills in all students; our strength as a research community; interdisciplinary experiences; promoting diversity, inclusivity, and equity; and recognizing the unique needs of each academic program. From these guiding principles flow the detailed recommendations, which rest on the four pillars Peter Taylor mentions above.

Fostering enthusiasm and passion for learning is the essence of the Queen’s academic plan. We made suggestions about how to improve the student experience, how teaching and research should integrate, and the types of programs that can be offered. We are a “people organization” so, just as importantly, we describe the skills we believe all students should acquire, how we should work together and share knowledge, and how Queen’s can be an even stronger community. In the view of the task force members, the package of recommendations applies equally to all programs and disciplines – undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools.

As a relative newcomer to Queen’s, participating on the task force has shown me first-hand the enthusiasm of our students, the commitment of our faculty and staff, and how our close-knit community defines “the Queen’s experience.” During my career prior to joining Queen’s, I met many Queen’s graduates, always noticing that they have more passion and loyalty towards their alma mater than people from other schools. I now know why. With this new plan, I hope that Queen’s will remain a great place for conducting research, sharing knowledge, and developing leaders for the global community.

Read the next article in this series, "Space and community are key."

The Academic Plan 2011 is the result of an 18-month campus-wide collaborative process that was rooted in the ideas Principal Daniel Woolf put forward in his 2010 vision document, Where Next?

These concepts were discussed and refined in a 2010 Academic Writing Team report entitled, Imagining the Future. And finally, an eight-member Senate task force chaired by Prof. Peter Taylor further consulted with the broader Queen’s community over several months. The fruit of their labours, the University’s first Academic Plan, was given unanimous approval by the Senate in November, and the University community is now preparing for the next phase of the process, which is implementing the Plan.

For more information or to read the Academic Plan, please visit the Queen’s News Centre website and search for Academic Plan.

Queen's Alumni Review, 2012 Issue #1Queen's Alumni Review
2012 Issue #1
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