Guest Blogger: Doug Johnson, President & CEO, AMS

The CMP team is excited to post our first in a series of guest bloggers. Over the study process, we’ll be periodically posting the different perspectives of Queen’s & Kingston’s residents opinions on the Queen’s Campus – including their aspirations for the CMP. For our first instalment we’re happy to feature a post from Doug Johnson, President and CEO of the Alma Mater Society (AMS). 

“Over the past several months the University has been engaged in the next major component of their planning exercise– the Campus Master Plan (CMP). Together with the University’s Academic Plan and Strategic Research Plan, the Campus Master Plan seeks to develop a strategic framework for the University over the next ten to fifteen years. This framework aims to guide how the University campus will physically change over the years in order to accommodate increased enrolment and evolving programming. It must also support Queen’s faculty, staff and students in order  to enhance Queen’s University’s reputation as a balanced academy.

This term ‘balanced academy’ certainly means something different to each person depending on their concentration, activity or role at Queen’s, but it generally underpins a concept of balancing the institution’s research priorities with its teaching priorities. But research and teaching are not necessarily the only ways that students can learn at Queen’s. Consider the concept of a broader learning environment. This concept identifies that there are many other mediums for students to learn on and off campus that ultimately complement the learning they pursue in the classroom. These concepts are drawn from extra-curricular involvement in clubs or teams, holding a managerial position within the student government, or simply living together with other students where you potentially receive some of the greatest education of all: how to interact with other students, solve interpersonal problems, get along and learn from one another.

What exactly does this have to do with the Campus Master Plan? While the Campus Master Plan mandate recognizes that it will guide the University’s physical growth of campus over the next several years, it must also take into consideration the unique campus and institution of which we are so fortunate to be a part – the balanced academy and the broader learning environment being two of those defining features. Queen’s truly has a 24/7 campus insofar as at any time of day throughout the week there is constantly activity in our classrooms, our libraries, our common spaces and our athletic facilities. But how do our students use this space? How do they move on campus and at what time of day? How do we find synergy between our multiple campuses? How exactly do we define campus life? These are all questions that the firm that is spearheading this plan, Urban Strategies, is looking to answer to help inform the planning process.

The urgency to assess the use of campus space has never been greater given that the second and third phases of the Queen’s Centre project, intended to fulfil the needs of our students, has been indefinitely postponed. Now is the time to reassess our needs and the facilities that fill them.

The CMP has to recognize that Queen’s is unlike any other University with its multiple campuses, extremely dense student housing, proximity to hospitals and the downtown core and above all, the broader learning environment of which each and every student is a part.

To be clear, this environment is not much more than our academic pursuits. Rather, it is much that complements our academic pursuits.  It says that at Queen’s University you can expect an enriched experience both inside and outside of the classroom and that there are true, meaningful opportunities for you to apply those academic lessons in non-academic settings.

If the Campus Master Plan is to be successful it must recognize these defining features of the Queen’s University experience. At Queen’s we have a gorgeous campus with incredible limestone buildings set in 171 years of history, we have incredible neighbours throughout the Kingston community and we have a truly committed faculty that are continually evolving their instructional deliveries. Complementing all of these great features of Queen’s is our broader learning environment and I truly believe that this is one of the greatest attractors to Queen’s University, and one that needs to be considered throughout the Campus Master Planning Process.” – Doug Johnson

dougjohsnon_phtoDoug Johnson is the President & CEO of the Alma Mater Society of Queen’s University, Canada’s oldest student government. He is in his fifth year at Queen’s and is studying history while working full time for the AMS. Doug has been involved in the Campus Master Plan process since last May as the undergraduate representative of the Master Plan Advisory Committee. Doug encourages all undergraduate students to attend the Plan Your Campus: Information Exchange at Queen’s Centre on March 26 and subscribe to the CMP blog.

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