Queen’s University principal Dr. Karen Hitchcock announced she is resigning at the end of the month, after less than four years as the executive head of the Kingston, Ontario university.
“After much reflection, I have decided to withdraw my request for reappointment and, with regret, will be stepping aside as principal and vice-chancellor effective April 30, 2008 in order to ensure a smooth transition,” Hitchcock said in an email to the Queen’s community.
Her resignation comes on the same day that a nine-member advisory committee, made up of members of both the university’s board of trustees and senate, was expected to release its recommendation on Ms. Hitchcock’s reappointment.
Hitchcock faced pressure to resign from the Queen’s community, cumulating in the beginning of March when the undergraduate student government unanimously called for Hitchcock not be appointed to a second term as principal.
Hitchcock has been under fire for a recent construction project. In April 2007, Queen’s University — under Hitchcock’s leadership — embarked on its largest ever construction project called the “Queen’s Centre.” Originally budgeted to cost $230 million, the project is significantly over budget. The first phase of construction was $41 million over budget and the fundraising goal of $132 million for the project is unlikely to be met.
An outsider who came to Queen’s after serving as president of the University at Albany, State University of New York, Hitchcock’s vision for Queen’s University has failed to fully be accepted by the Queen’s community. The student government expressed concern about Hitchcock’s attempts to make Queen’s an internationally-focused research-based university. They were concerned this focus would hurt Queen’s traditional focus on undergraduate education.
In Hitchcock’s email to the Queen’s community she said, “It has been an honour to serve Queen’s and I wish only the best for the university we all love.”