Smith family faculties boost prestige

Smith Engineering will benefit Queen’s researchers, students, and graduates.

On Nov. 3, Queen’s announced Stephen Smith’s $100 million donation to the faculty of Engineering. Smith’s donation, in a puff of yellow confetti and stoles, launched a rebrand of Queen’s Engineering to Smith Engineering at Queen’s.

Comments on the Queen’s University Instagram page and on Reddit threads are conveying some students’ discontent.

Some object to Queen’s Commerce and the Engineering faculty being united under the Smith name as it undermines their decades-long rivalry. Their complaints aren’t unfounded. The inter-faculty rivalry between Commerce and Engineering is an infamous part of Queen’s culture. Every year, their rivalry fuels the Cure Cancer Classic, which has raised over $1 million for paediatric cancer research.

Another point of opposition to the spread of the Smith name is its characterization of Queen’s as a capitalist rather than an academic institution. The spectacle around the change implies more enthusiasm for a renewed image than it does for serious academia.

Smith Engineering doesn’t now have $100 million to spend. The money will likely trickle in over years and will presumably fund behind-the-scenes research more than it will alter students’ in-class experience. Because they won’t see the money themselves, it’s understandable for current students to feel cynical about their work being attached to its donor.

It can be disheartening seeing so much money and attention funnelled into such a concentrated area, particularly while PSAC 901 battles for increased funding and wages for graduate students, and Queen’s Fine Art has suspended enrolment for the second time in 15 years.

Ultimately, though, Queen’s present, past, and future students will benefit from Smith’s donation.

The influx of funding and consequent rebrand will attract prestige around Smith Engineering and Queen’s University in general. Increasing financial resources will allow for more advanced research, paving the way for the innovations in engineering research and pedagogy Dean Kevin Deluzio imagines for the faculty.

This new prestige will boost the status of Queen’s graduates’ resumés and encourage accomplished academics in all faculties to bring their research to the University. As long as it supports Queen’s academia, let the yellow confetti fly.

—Journal Editorial Board


Engineering, Smith Commerce, Smith Engineering

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