Board of Trustees begins the year with messages from new Provost & student leaders

Financial statements for 2015-16 year approved

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The first Board of Trustees meeting began on Sept. 30 with a moment of silence for Brady Faroldi and Donald Hargreaves, two members of the Queen’s community who passed away in recent months. 

After a moment to remember those who won’t be returning to campus, the Board turned to discussing matters pertaining to the thousands of students who flocked to the university on move-in day.

In his strategic update, Principal Daniel Woolf told the Board of the need to “build on the momentum” of the previous year and carry it into Queen’s’ 175th anniversary.

They were however, in his estimation “off to a good start,” highlighting the Guinness World Record event, the reopening of the newly revitalized Richardson Stadium, applauding the project for being completed “on time and on budget,” and the $63.7 million investment from the Government of Canada.

Practical research services will be a focal point of this year at the University, Woolf said — the details of which will be presented at the December Board of Trustees meeting.

He also made mention of a “vigorous program of faculty renewal,” but didn’t provide details. Further elaboration on faculty renewal took place in a Senate meeting earlier in the week. 

Speaking of the University’s draft financial statements from the 2015-16 year, which were released last Friday, Woolf called attention to the $39.5 million surplus of revenue over expenses.

However, he said, “before we jump up and down and run to the bank,” it should be noted that the surplus was mostly due to pension expenses being lower than investment returns, utilities savings and increased tuition revenue.

“We’re not out of the woods financially, but I do believe we’re beginning to see the edge of the clearing,” Woolf said. Following Woolf’s address, the podium was occupied by new Provost Benoit-Antoine Bacon, who introduced himself to the Board.

Bacon highlighted the need to maintain the values of Queen’s while “taking into account the way the world is changing,” and rising to meet the demands of an “increasingly digital world.”

Student leaders Rector Cam Yung, AMS President Tyler Lively and SGPS President Saba Farbodkia, were afterwards invited to the podium. Yung addressed the Board on the financial difficulties of being a student, noting it was month’s end and he would be going home to pay his rent.

“I raise my own story, not to gain sympathy but because it is very similar and even identical to the experiences of other students at Queen’s,” he said, extending an invitation to the Board to help him in breaking down financial barriers to education this year.

Lively spoke about the opportunities students could gain from experiential learning, those often lacking in graduating students’ repertoires. “This is an area where we are failing students,” he said, urging more research opportunities for students.

Farbodkia focused her address to the Board on the issue of Queen’s ranking among world universities, linking the importance of high standings to the University’s ability to attract graduate students from around the world.

After reports from the Audit and Risk Committee and the Non Academic Misconduct Sub Committee, a motion was passed to approve the consolidated financial statements for the year 2016-17 without opposition.

Trustee Edward Speal noted that the year may hold the time for a capital plan to address the University’s financial future stability.

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