As a historian, I am fascinated by the past. I feel this acutely in the traditions and legacy of Queen’s University, the 175-year-old place of learning of which for the past several years I’ve been serving as Principal and Vice-Chancellor. Yet as we celebrate, honour and build on what we’ve learned from the past, we also know that we cannot live in it.
The world is changing at a rapid pace, and Ontario’s universities are finding the solutions that we need to head confidently into the future. Our universities are highly diverse in size, location, and composition– with student populations ranging from 1,600 to more than 80,000, situated in smaller Northern regions and in large urban centres, teaching disciplines ranging across arts and sciences, business, engineering, health and innovation. This diversity is a great strength, extending the reach and impact of our institutions to every part of the province and serving a population that is itself among the most culturally diverse in the world. As we face a time of global economic shifts, an aging population, and technological transformation, Ontario’s universities – and the students, faculty, researchers, and alumni that make up our communities – are empowering tomorrow’s future-makers.
Our students will become not only the employees of tomorrow, but Ontario’s and Canada’s highly skilled workforce – and universities are preparing them with the critical thinking and problem solving skills needed to adapt and thrive in our ever-changing world. Our students are learning from the best and brightest faculty in new and creative ways, not only in lecture halls, but in everything from technology-enabled curriculum to experiential learning and entrepreneurial training.
Ontario’s universities are partners in a mutually beneficial relationship with our local communities. Whether it’s through students volunteering in community social service centres to gain experiential learning opportunities or faculty partnerships with businesses, hospitals and not-for-profits to set up teaching and research partnerships, universities are partnering to support the economic and social development of Ontario communities.
As our universities evolve to meet the demands of the economy and attract international talent, we are also strengthening the province. Through university-led incubators and accelerators, we are giving students the skills and experience to start their own businesses. International talent to our universities is bringing fresh and diverse perspectives to our workforce. Our researchers are visionaries of the future, finding the solutions to some of the world’s most complex problems. And we’re partnering with business and industry leaders to support economic clusters and job growth, with a collective economic impact of $115.8 billion towards the provincial economy.
Ontario has a strong past to build on, and we have a lot to be proud of. As I step into the role of COU Chair, I welcome you to join us in our work to ensure that every Ontarian thrives in tomorrow’s world.
Together, we can all be future makers.
Dr. Daniel Woolf
Principal and Vice-Chancellor
Chair, Council of Ontario Universities
Dr. Daniel Woolf became the 20th Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University in 2009, following a professional and administrative career at four other Canadian universities. He is also a professor in the Department of History at Queen’s.
Woolf began his academic career at Queen’s, earning a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in 1980 before continuing on to Oxford University where he earned his Doctorate (D.Phil ’83). He returned to Queen’s as a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) postdoctoral fellow (’84-’86), during which time he taught in the Queen’s history department.
Woolf is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, of the Society of Antiquaries of London, and of the Royal Society of Canada (RSC). As a scholar, he specializes in early modern British cultural history and in the history of historical thought in Britain and around the world. In 2004, he won the John Ben Snow Foundation Prize, awarded by the North American Conference on British Studies for the best book by a North American scholar in any field of British Studies focusing on the period between the Middle Ages and the 18th century. He is the author or editor of many books and articles and serves on a number of academic editorial or advisory committees.
Woolf serves on the Board of Directors of Historica Canada and is a past member of the Executive Committee of the Royal Society. He is the current Chair of the Council of Ontario Universities.