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Dr. Karen R. Hitchcock; Remarks on the occasion of a celebration of her achievements as Principal


May 2008

Thank you so much Charlie and Patrick for your most gracious words and wonderful gifts. I will treasure them always. And thank you so very much for today and for all your support over the past several years.

This is a difficult moment for me … as I look out over so many who have shared our vision for the future of Queen’s.

I am proud of what we have accomplished in a relatively brief time … but there is so much more to do. So many of you have reached out to me over the last weeks – literally hundreds of e-mails, cards, gifts, flowers and calls. They mean so much … but, most important, so many spoke to wanting to continue the work we’ve started. Students, faculty, staff and alumni spoke to a new Queen’s – a Queen’s which is deeply, yes, engaged; outward-looking in its programs and perspective.

This is a defining moment for Queen’s. The province and the country are investing in universities which are demonstrably relevant and responsive to their needs. Queen’s needs to be among them. My goal was to ensure such a positioning of Queen’s … a goal I know is shared by many of the Queen’s family.

When Murray and I return to Canada in a few years, I hope to see the Tricolour planted firmly in the ground of Toronto; when we again visit the Castle, I hope to see the flags of many countries in its halls; when we visit Dubai and Hong Kong and New York and London, Paris, Melbourne and Mumbai, Queen’s will be there. When we return to Kingston, I envision a city made more vibrant by new companies seeking supportive partnerships with Queen’s scientists and students at Innovation Park; and, we’ll spend an evening enjoying the Toronto Symphony or Pinkas Zucherman and the National Arts Centre Orchestra in the new Performing Arts Centre at their new summer home, the Queen’s University Arts Campus, a venue Ben Heppner promised me he would open.

Such are my hopes for Queen’s …

My hope for the students of Queen’s is that they grow in wisdom, understanding and an awareness of the deep commitment of others to their futures. My hope for the faculty of Queen’s is that they not only find in Queen’s a place which values and understands their particular needs as scholars and teachers, but also that they have the joy of helping to shape the future of this university … of being a part of its legacy. My hope for the staff of Queen’s is that they are fulfilled in their professional lives and that they know, and experience daily, the gratitude of those they serve so well.

Yes, such are my hopes for Queen’s … but, as a dear colleague has often pointed out – “hope is not a strategy”.

I was blessed while here at Queen’s with colleagues who wished to make such hopes real through their talent, professionalism and deep caring for this university … colleagues like our new Emeritus Chancellor, Charlie Baillie, who saw the need for change here at Queen’s; colleagues like so many of our rising faculty whose hopes and dreams for Queen’s are manifest in each class they teach and each new discovery they make and share with global colleagues and a society in need of new approaches and new insights; and, colleagues like the Vice- Principals with whom I was so privileged to serve.

I’ve been in higher education for a long time and, with no exception, this is the finest leadership team I have ever worked with. They bring a wealth of experience to each of their positions and each and every one of them is making Queen’s a better place through their expertise, professionalism and deep sense of the academy.

They will help to ensure that the hopes of the Queen’s community are realized and that the people of Queen’s are aware of the challenges that must be addressed if Queen’s is to be an excellent – and relevant – Canadian university.

On a personal note, they have always been there for me … supportive and caring … Patrick, Kerry, Andrew, David and Rod – thank you so very much for everything. I will miss you all very, very much.

As I will miss Queen’s and so many of its people … alumni who have become more than just Queen’s grads – they have become dear friends; students with whom I met over tea or a luncheon, or at a concert, play or athletic event to share their hopes and dreams; faculty who enabled me to continue to learn and grow and constantly amaze me with their various talents and commitment; and, staff who constantly amaze us all with their professionalism and who have given me their friendship and support – be it at an alumni reception in London, a luncheon at Summerhill with those special chocolate mice and my diet Pepsi, or helping me prepare for convocation or a myriad of special events.

And a very special “thank you” to my staff in the Principal’s office – Chris, Ashleigh, Eric, Yo, Sally, Sandy, Ryan, Sean and Greg – you made it all possible and always, always were there for me. Deepest thanks.

Again, to all, thank you and God speed.


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