Principal Woolf releases five-year plan

Queen’s looks to improve international image

Woolf, pictured here at last fall’s Homecoming game, presented a strategic framework to the Board of Trustees last Friday.
Woolf, pictured here at last fall’s Homecoming game, presented a strategic framework to the Board of Trustees last Friday.

In a document released last Friday, Queen’s has set its priorities for the next five years, which includes improving its international reputation and student engagement.

Principal Daniel Woolf presented the Queen’s Strategic Framework for 2014-2019 on March 7 to the University’s Board of Trustees.

The framework sets out four priorities for the University: student learning experience, research prominence, financial sustainability and internationalization.

Woolf said the framework builds on four years of planning, including the Senate-approved Academic Plan and the Queen’s Strategic Research Plan. The plan includes metrics for measuring progress on each objective.

The document envisions Queen’s as “Canada’s quintessential balanced academy”, he said, as the institution aims to balance research goals with the student experience.

A balanced academy, according to the plan, is a university with both high student engagement and high research volume. “We don’t throw everything at research,” he said. “We really treat the teaching and learning experience as just as important.”

The faculties will be reporting annually to the community and the Board of Trustees on the progress that has been made, he added.

The student learning experience section sets goals for student engagement and building skills.

According to the framework, the University aims to increase experiential learning at Queen’s and integrate technology into courses, such as the technology used in the new classrooms in Ellis Hall.

Queen’s also aims to improve the international reputation of Queen’s, according to the document, by increasing the number of international students and promoting Queen’s internationally.

Woolf said internationalization supports all of the other goals of the University, since it improves the student environment and increases revenue.

“Although I would say [financial sustainability] is the least important one,” he said. “I think it is always a mistake to view internationalization as a revenue generator as opposed to something that enhances the student learning environment.”

Woolf said he would like to improve the University’s showing in international rankings.

“While I think it is fair to say while we have some high level of skepticism about some of the ways these rankings are done, notwithstanding I would like to move up the rankings tables on some of these key exercises, like the Shanghai Jiao Tung,” he said.

Shanghai Jiao Tung University releases an annual Academic Ranking of World Universities which last ranked Queen’s in the top 201-300 universities in 2013.

“But there are other measures, for example, how many international students are we attracting here to do their degree?” he said.

The University will track progress through each faculty, Woolf added, since the faculties will have relative autonomy in how they develop their own programs and find financial stability.

“The key element in terms of getting this done is the faculties – that’s where the research takes place, that’s where the teaching takes place,” he said.

Each faculty will have discretion over their own activities, he said, as a result of the new budget model the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Alan Harrison created last year.

The budget model makes each faculty responsible for its own financial standing, and gives more funding to faculties that produce more revenue through their activities.

“To make sure that these things are actually implemented on the ground level, we’ve had to put the appropriate incentives in place,” Woolf said.

The framework covers goals for the next five years, which will take Queen’s until the end of Woolf’s second term as principal.

“That seems to be an appropriate point at which to stop and take stock,” he said.

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