New provost appointed to Queen's

Incoming Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Alan Harrison says he's excited to move back to Kingston and work at Queen's.
Incoming Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Alan Harrison says he's excited to move back to Kingston and work at Queen's.

On Aug. 1 Alan Harrison will begin his position as Queen’s second Provost and vice-principal (academic). Harrison, who is currently provost and vice-president (academic) at University of Calgary, spent one year at Queen’s in the mid-70s as a visiting assistant professor in economics.

“My plan was to go back to the UK at the end of my year,” he said.

It was a year at Queen’s that inspired Harrison to stay in Canada permanently, he said.

“I came to appreciate what a fine institution it is... so I’ve always regarded Queen’s as a kind of comparative.”

Harrison said he’s happy to be moving back to Kingston with his wife.

“We still have friends in Kingston. We have no doubt we’ll enjoy living there. We have two children in Toronto so we’ll be closer to them,” he said, adding that he also has a grandchild born in December last year.

On Dec. 5 2009, the Board of Trustees approved a motion to introduce a provost model at Queen’s. The provost is Queen’s chief operating officer and works with non-academic offices and departments within the University and is involved in financial decision making.

The provost model came into effect on May 1 2010 and Robert Silverman has since acted as interim provost and vice-principal (academic). His term will end July 31. Harrison will serve a five year term.

Principal Daniel Woolf chaired the Advisory Selection Committee that recommended Harrison’s appointment to the Board of Trustees. Harrison’s appointment was approved at the Board’s meeting last weekend.

In terms of preparing for the position, Harrison said he’s meeting with Queen’s administrators and staff.

“I certainly have already had a lot of conversations with the principal and current acting Provost [Robert] Silverman,” he said, adding that he has also met with Queen’s deans and vice-principals. “Obviously I will be trying to meet as many people as I can in advance of my arrival... to understand what’s happening there and what’s going to need my attention when I get there.”

Harrison said issues faced at Queen’s are ones that are across Canada.

“Pretty much every university in Canada is struggling with budget issues... [there’s] always a challenge between ensuring access and providing funding [to ensure] the quality of university education students, appropriately, demand. There are probably a number of other issues ... but I need time to become acquainted to them in detail.”

Harrison said he’ll miss working at University Calgary but is excited to be starting the new position at Queen’s.

“Naturally I’ve made a lot of friends here in five years ... I’ll miss the people. That said ... to be the provost at Queen’s is a wonderful opportunity [and] not something that comes along every day.”

Harrison’s current position in Calgary comes to an end on June 30 so he will be moving to Kingston sometime in July. Before working in Calgary, Harrison was provost and vice-president (academic) at Carleton University. He has also worked at McMaster University where he was dean of social sciences and chair of the department of economics. He earned his PhD from the University of Essex in England.

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