New principal installed

19th appointee Tom Williams will have full range of power

New principal Tom Williams has been installed for an indeterminate length of time.
New principal Tom Williams has been installed for an indeterminate length of time.

Yesterday, Tom Williams was installed as Queen’s 19th Principal during the first of the 19 spring convocation ceremonies.

Williams said he was approached about the position by the Board of Trustees after Karen Hitchcock withdrew her request for reappointment. Hitchcock’s resignation became effective April 30, more than one year before her term was due to end. Williams officially began his 12- to 14-month term on May 1.

He does not intend to seek reappointment.

Williams said the Board of Trustees decided to install him as the 19th Principal rather than an acting or interim principal to give him a full range of power and responsibility.

“The board was very definite that this role was not interim and not acting but it was to be principal for an undetermined period of time,” he said. “They did that so that I could have the ability to move this university along without any of the inhibitions that might be inherent in those other titles, and I intend to do that.”

Williams’ first job at Queen’s was serving as the Dean of the Faculty of Education in 1977.

He said his varying roles at the university, including co-ordinator of graduate programs and viceprincipal (operations and university relations), has allowed him to get to a wide variety of students and faculty.

“I’ve always had a very special relationship with the student body and I intend to work along those channels. I intend to reach out to as many constituents in the university as possible to get their input on what our future should look like and how to accomplish it,” he said.

Williams said the mounting debt of the Queen’s Centre Project, last reported to be $41 million, is an issue he has to get a handle on quickly.

“[The Queen’s Centre] is clearly an issue that’s of concern to the Board of Trustees and the administration of the University,” he said.

“I’m working with my vice principals and the board and I’d like to have a plan in place by September to deal with that.”

Williams said issue such as departmental budget cuts are more difficult to pin down.

It’s difficult to create an action plan, he said, when the money the Ontario government gives to its schools is below the national average.

“We’ll do our best to mitigate cuts,” Williams said. “[But] none of us are able to print money here.” Aside from dealing with financial issues, Williams said, he’d like to work on refashioning the Queen’s community, something he said needs to be done every few years, regardless of leadership.

“I want to make sure that we get the University working as a collective again,” he said.

“I don’t think that was lost; I just think that the people around need a renewal of focus about what the place is about, and really, what it is about is people engaging [each other].”

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