Hitchcock ‘engages’ first town hall meeting

According to Drew Brenders, MSc ’05, Principal Karen Hitchcock’s first “Engaging the World” town hall meeting left much to be accomplished.

“[It was] very instructive from the perspective of attendees, not necessarily for the process,” he said. “It’s just the beginning, though.” Hitchcock’s process of realizing a vision for the future of the University took some of its first steps on Tuesday with an open forum attended by about 46 members of the Queen’s community, including seven students.

On Sept. 29, Hitchcock released a discussion paper outlining her desire to see the University take its place among top-ranked schools internationally.

“My dream for Queen’s is that it be one of those universities that matter on an international stage,” Hitchcock told the forum, referring to her vision as an “I have a dream” paper.

What the University will be known for, and how to communicate what Queen’s is, were some of the topics Hitchcock raised for attendees to focus on in their comments and questions.

“Being heard is what this is all about,” said Vice-Principal (Academic) Patrick Deane, who facilitated the meeting.

Brenders was the first to comment during the meeting by comparing Hitchcock’s strategy with that of former Principal Bill Leggett, whose vision was for Queen’s to be the “Stanford of the North.” He also raised the issue of class sizes and as the overall size of the undergraduate population.

“The intimacy of the learning experience is a critical thing, I believe in small class [sizes],” Hitchcock replied. “Very much the size of this institution should be discussed.”

The main focus of the meeting, however, was the internationalization of the University. Attendees suggested international recruitment, exchanges, more international content in classes and that access for international students would help achieve this goal.

Queen’s Recruitment Officer Nicholas Knight said that while McGill University’s percentage of international students is 25 per cent, Queen’s is currently less than five per cent.

“It’s not that McGill is a model, but it’s a place where [internationalization] worked,” Hitchcock said. “In a lot of situations, we are better than McGill, darn it.”

Deane said the administration’s plan involves building up the University’s strengths, and using these to market the school on a global level.

“We need to identify those places where we are outstanding,” he said.

A Journal reporter asked the group how Queen’s identity as a Canadian institution would be maintained while pursuing internationalization. Both Deane and Hitchcock agreed that the University’s reputation needed to be continually built up within Canada as well as outside its borders.

“We want Queen’s to be a Canadian institution with an international engagement,” Hitchcock said. “That reputation has somehow disappeared, but is there to be revived.”

Vice-Principal (Operations and Finance) Andrew Simpson closed the meeting by describing the process as building momentum for the future.

“As you engage quality students, you attract quality faculty and a cycle begins,” he said. “What we’re trying to do with this process is to start momentum going.” Deane said he felt the meeting covered key issues and pointed to significant areas for change. He added that he looked forward to future meetings.

“Each town hall will bring a different focus,” he told the Journal. Future town hall meetings will be held across campus over the next two months. More information, including dates and locations, can be found at queensu.ca/principal/lookingahead.

Town Hall Meetings

• October 26, 10:30 a.m. to noon
Goodes Hall Atrium

• November 8, 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Kingston Hall Rm. 201

• November 30, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Policy Studies Rm. 202

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