School of Religion to integrate by 2012

Amalgamation could increase Queen’s role in promoting religious tolerance on campus

The next town hall meeting to discuss integrating Queen’s and the School of Religion will be held at 1 p.m. Sept. 28 in the boardroom of Theological Hall.
The next town hall meeting to discuss integrating Queen’s and the School of Religion will be held at 1 p.m. Sept. 28 in the boardroom of Theological Hall.

Queen’s and the School of Religion are considering integrating as soon as 2012.

Jean Stairs, principal of the Queen’s School of Religion said the two schools were united until the beginning of the twentieth century.

“In 1912 Queen’s separated from the School of Religion in order to get funding as a secular institution, and the federal government incorporated the School of Religion as a separate body,” Stairs said, adding that the same funding standards are no longer applicable.

“2012 is the centenary of 1912 when we became two organizations, so it feels like a nice time frame to aim for,” Stairs said, adding that although the timing is rather ceremonial, the implications of integration are farther reaching and could help promote religious tolerance and financial stability.

“Integrating Queen’s and the School of Religion strengthens our vision to be a leader in increasing respect for religious difference,” Stairs said. Successful integration would also heighten the School of Religion’s profile, opening them up opportunities for more philanthropic support.

While some preliminary discussions have already occurred, further discussions regarding integration will take place within a joint working committee, which is co-chaired by the School of Religion’s board chair Bruce Hutchinson.

“Students will be fully apprised and can have input in the discussions,” Stairs said, adding that town hall meetings will occur frequently and be open to faculty, staff and students.

It is still early for feedback, but people at the first town hall meeting were supportive of discussing integration, she said, though it shouldn’t have too much of an impact on students.

The schools are already closely tied together, sharing over 20 classes.

The School’s degrees and programs would continue under the authority of the University Senate as they always have.

Stairs said discussions began in the spring when Principal Daniel Woolf brought the idea to the table.

“The current Queen’s principal has a leadership vision and feels that it’s time for the integration to occur,” she said.

Woolf stands by his proposal and said he embraces discussions regarding the integration of the School of Religion into Queen’s.

“After 100 years of the University and the School of Religion being separate entities, I welcome these discussions that could see the School, which is the University’s parent, brought back into the fold,” he told the Journal via e-mail.

“The School of Religion plays a major role in the history of Queen’s and having it reintegrate into the University structure would be a significant evolution.”

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