Collaboration and diversity in Chemistry

Our vision for 2018-2023

Strategic Plan

The Department of Chemistry at Queen’s University is one of the oldest chemistry departments in Canada. Queen’s University offered instruction in chemistry as early as 1854 and has been granting degrees in Chemistry for over 100 years.

To remain not only relevant but also at the forefront of chemistry education and research, our department must remain innovative in its research endeavours, and imaginative in its educational program delivery. Only by looking forward and adapting quickly to a rapidly evolving society, changing student expectations, and ever-changing financial constraints, are we able to maintain and grow our reputation for excellence in research and education.

This strategic plan is meant to guide the members of the Department of Chemistry and those administrating its operation. The strategic plan sets several objectives to maintain and enhance the effectiveness of the two main departmental functions – chemistry education and research.


Mission Statement

The Department of Chemistry has a long tradition of teaching and research excellence in a supportive community fostering fairness, diversity, and respect for individual creativity. Our mission is to discover and disseminate new knowledge and, through education and research, address challenges of relevance to industry and global society.

Read our Strategic Plan

Executive Summary

In 2018 the Department of Chemistry at Queen’s University is in the enviable position to be able to invest in the education and research of its members. We have several opportunities to substantially improve the delivery of our educational programs and to further increase our research activity. This plan describes several initiatives that will be launched with the aim to sustainably grow and improve our departmental activities. All are fully aligned with our mission “to discover and disseminate new knowledge and, through education and research, address challenges of relevance to industry and global society”.

The undergraduate program delivery will be both improved and expanded. The revised curriculum will include a new course for non-science students, tentatively titled “Chemistry for Decision Makers”. We will also improve labs and lecture components in CHEM112, rebalance the workload in the second-year courses and update the 3rd-year lab course.

With these initiatives we intend to make the chemistry program more attractive to our own students and to those in other programs. These revisions in combination with enhanced promotion of our program to first-year students are aimed at increasing the number of chemistry majors to about 50 per year. All these initiatives will be implemented in consultation and collaboration with the Queen’s Chemistry Undergraduate Student Council and their representatives.

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We will increase our graduate enrollment to about 150 Ph.D. and M.Sc. candidates. Several recruitment initiatives will help us increase the number of domestic and international applicants, including some that are targeting our own undergraduates.

We will increase the breadth of the graduate program offerings through the introduction of new programs such as certificates, professional programs and joint international programs.

Finally, in collaboration with the Queen’s Graduate Chemistry Society, we will aim to improve the graduate experience by strengthening the ties between faculty, staff, and graduate students through, both, formal interactions and social events.

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Examination of our department’s impact on chemistry research and education in Canada indicates a strong correlation to the number of full-time faculty. To further increase our international reputation, we must increase our complement of research-active faculty. Departmental growth is ultimately limited by the availability of research space; the capacity of Chernoff Hall is estimated at 27-30 research groups.

Currently, we house 22 research groups. New hires will be selected based on their ability to address global research needs and to educate undergraduate and graduate students. In both regards, we acknowledge that “growth happens at the interface”, i.e. we expect that future faculty hires have chemistry expertise that is complementary to those already in the department and that they are interested in collaborative and interdisciplinary research.

Diversification of the department through the hire of under-represented groups such as women and members of visible minorities is expected to not only increase our educational and research impact but also set an example nationally.

Several other initiatives described in the plan will help further increase our capacity for collaborative and diverse research. This is consistent with our vision to become the most collaborative and diverse department in Canada.

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Currently, departmental infrastructure is replaced on an ad hoc basis, which sometimes leads to research delays when an instrument ages poorly or fails entirely. A proactive infrastructure review and replacement strategy will help us predict the remaining life of departmental instrumentation used for teaching and research and replace these instruments before they fail catastrophically. We plan to use all departmental infrastructure much more frequently for service contracts and other external work, thereby increasing the departmental revenue and our reputation for research excellence.

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The Department of Chemistry at Queen’s University is at a crossroads in 2018. While our reputation for teaching and research excellence remains outstanding, we also need to acknowledge that trends in the last decade have not been in our favour and, consequently, we have become an aging and shrinking department with a small undergraduate program compared to other STEM departments at Queen’s.

This strategic plan provides for a route to reverse many of these trends. Most initiatives involve sustainable growth of our existing programs and of the associated faculty and staff complement. While growth also entails considerable risk – and requires sacrifices from most of us - it is required to give students a better choice of more attractive courses, to permit research on a grander scale, and to (re)establish Queen’s Chemistry among the top chemistry departments in Canada.

Only through a renewed investment of funding and a commitment by all departmental members, will we be able to fully realize the core of our mission “to discover and disseminate new knowledge and, through education and research, address challenges of relevance to industry and global society”.

 View the full Strategic Plan (PDF, 1.39 MB)