Queen's University

From the Desk of the Principal: Spirit, enthusiasm, and a sense of purpose

The Class of 2011 has gone out into the world, taking with them a desire to make the world a better place. It’s a task for which their Queen’s educations have prepared them well.

As I write this, another emotion-filled convocation cycle has come to a successful conclusion – with more than 4,500 students graduating, in person or absentia, at 20 ceremonies – and campus is in the full gorgeous bloom of summer.

Because most convocations are now held in Grant Hall, the majority of 2011 graduates entered to the same stirring sounds of Queen’s magnificent concert ­organ reverberating throughout the same hall that many alumni will recall from their own graduations. And at the end of several of the ceremonies, the crowd broke into spontaneous Oil Thighs in the aisles.

Colleen Greer, Artsci'10,  MSc’11, Biology student Colleen Greer, Artsci'08, MSc'11
(Michael Onesi photo)

Watching this newest group of exceptional graduates cross the stage to receive their degrees, I was struck by their spirit, enthusiasm, and strong sense of purpose. Speaking to some of them after the ceremonies reinforced my belief that our country and our world will benefit as these new Queen’s graduates move out into the wider community to make a difference.

Our students are distinguished by their actions and commitment to serving their community – both while they are here, and after they graduate. Here are some examples:

  • A spontaneous “passing of the hat” that happened last term in the Anatomy 316 class taught by Ron Easteal, MSc’76, PhD’82. The students collected hundreds of dollars, on the spot, to pay for a child’s cleft palate surgery through Operation Smile, after learning about the procedure in class.
  • Biology graduate student Colleen Greer, Artsci’08, MSc’11, who was honoured in the spring by Fisheries and Oceans Canada for her work during last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill crisis. Colleen spent two weeks on a ship near the spill site collecting water samples to track the oil.
  • March’s successful symposium on “China’s Future Path” – attended by the Canadian ambassador of the People’s Republic of China – that brought ­together professors and students from across campus to discuss China’s impact on Canada and the world. It was the ­initiative of several undergrads who had spent a term studying at Fudan University in Shanghai. The students wanted to create synergies and look at ways that Queens’ can increase cooperation with other universities and agencies.
  • After our community was rocked by a number of tragic student deaths over the past year, students organized a “Queen’s Loves U” day to emphasize the importance of reaching out to one another and to reflect the strength of our community.These are just a few events and initiatives that come to mind as I look back on the past year and consider the uniqueness of our wonderful school.
  • At Spring Reunion/Mini U, during my travels, near and far, on behalf of the University – and, yes, through my Twitter account – I’ve had the privilege of connecting with so many accomplished and successful Queen’s students and alumni who are making positive differences in their communities and in the world. 

When you read this column, we’ll be ­focused on preparing for the upcoming 2011-12 academic year. I look forward to welcoming frosh and returning undergraduate, graduate, and professional ­students – to meeting, teaching and working with more outstanding young people from around the world who have chosen Queen’s as their home for the next few years.

As has been the case for almost 175 years, Queen’s continues to seek people with an ambitious spirit: People who are ­eager to learn, discover, think and do; people who want to push the limits of what can be achieved and develop ideas that make a difference in the world. Our exceptional faculty and staff will guide the education of these young (and sometimes not so young) adults, in and out of the classroom, and help prepare them to make a difference.

Read Principal’s Woolf's blog at www.queensu.ca/principal/apps/blog or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ queensprincipal.

Queen's Alumni Review, 2011 Issue #3Queen's Alumni Review
2011 Issue #3
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