Profs, not admin positions requested

Former and current professors urges administration to add more faculty positions

Journal File Photo

Last Thursday, Principal Daniel Woolf announced the hiring of two vice-principals, one of which will take on a newly created position in Queen’s administration.

After six years as the vice-principal (finance and administration), Caroline Davis has been appointed as the inaugural vice-principal (facilities, properties and sustainability).

“[Davis] will play a leading role as Queen’s advances institutional priorities such as classroom renewal, major capital projects, deferred maintenance, and sustainability initiatives including the Climate Action Plan,” Principal Daniel Woolf wrote in a statement to The Journal.

In light of Davis’ move, her former role will be subsequently filled by former Associate Vice-Principal (Finance) Donna Janiec.

However, with the addition of a new administrative role, some individuals in the Queen’s community have expressed public concern about the disproportionally lesser additions to teaching staff.

“What does the sprawling nature of [today’s] department mean? What does it reflect about the meaning of the University?” Geoffrey Smith, a former Queen’s professor, asked in an interview with The Journal.

The questions were framed by discussion of increasing student enrolment, as well as the lack of hires in struggling faculties like the School of Computing, which hasn’t hired a new group of professors since 1995.

The faculty, as of last year, expected to lose 14 of their 28 faculty members by 2017. Meanwhile, student enrolment in Computing has been on the rise.

“There are just too many students per professor,” Smith said. “Do we need all these vice principals, assistant vice principals, associate vice principals … when departments are starving for hires?”

Smith isn’t the only former or present member of Queen’s faculty who saw fault in the new administrative hire. In a Twitter exchange between himself and Queen’s economics professor, Allan Gregory, sarcastic jabs were made by both parties at the administrative decision.  

“Oh boy, a new VP in a new position!” Gregory wrote. “So many dept need to hire and this is what we get.”

To Smith, the issue isn’t anything new. He believes that it’s been building for a while, recalling an example that occurred when he was working as a professor at Queen’s in 1969.

A toilet in his faculty building had sprung a leak. Noticing, the department promptly placed a request to have a plumber come fix the issue.

After being assured that one would be on its way, no one ever arrived. What did arrive was the announcement of another administrative hire.

The tone of Smith’s anecdote was tongue-in-cheek: “If you can get a new VP of human resources, and we can’t get a plumber to come fix our toilet … then what the f--- is going on?” he asked.

Responding to the concerns around administrators being added rather than faculty, Principal Woolf acknowledged the issues Smith raised as legitimate concerns. 

“We have done remarkably little hiring of tenure track faculty over the last number of years and that’ a concern,” Woolf told The Journal via email.

“We have a great academic staff here, but there’s a whole generation of young and mid-career researchers out there that we would all dearly love to bring to Queen’s.”

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