Principal's breakfast builds community relationships
By Meredith Dault, Senior Communications Officer
More than 120 members of the Kingston community got an early start to the day with coffee and conversation at the Principal’s Community Breakfast. Held this year at the Ambassador Hotel and Conference Centre, the event allowed leaders from government, business, not-for-profit organizations and other community groups to mingle with representatives from Queen’s over breakfast.
“This event is my opportunity to both acknowledge and strengthen the bonds between Queen’s University and the greater Kingston community,” Principal Daniel Woolf told the assembled crowd.
The morning event also included a presentation on the “community as classroom”, as well as the benefits of anchoring course-based learning in the community. The audience heard about two collaborative projects currently engaging students in the broader Kingston community.
“Community-based projects allow our students to become more involved in the city’s fabric and to contribute their energy and enthusiasm to the wider community,” said Principal Woolf, before introducing the guest speakers and stressing the “critical role that community partners can play in helping our faculty and students integrate community participation into the formal learning process at Queen’s.”
Dr. Brian Frank, Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering, then spoke about a course he teaches that includes a 12-week community service learning project. Dr. Frank’s course, Engineering Practice, is taken annually by over 700 students, many of whom end up working with community organizations like Martha’s Table, which provides low cost meals to people in need. Ronda Candy, managing director at Martha’s Table, shared her experience of having students help design the organization’s kitchen. Student Ramona Neferu, who is studying Engineering Chemistry, then spoke about her experience in hands-on learning.
Dr. Anastasia Riehl, Director of the Strathy Language Unit and an adjunct assistant professor in Linguistics, described her current research around endangered languages. She highlighted a partnership with the Wolfe Island Historical Society that sees her gathering oral histories from the island’s residents. She then introduced Brian MacDonald, treasurer and genealogy chair of the Wolfe Island Historical Society, who spoke about the value and impact of the partnership with Queen’s from a community perspective.
Provost Alan Harrison delivered the event’s concluding remarks, stressing the importance of experiential learning for helping students develop the skills they will need in the working world. He called on community members for their ideas on expanding opportunities for students to engage in experiential learning in the community.