A new face on the convocation stage

Convocation 2024

A new face on the convocation stage

The 39th Rector of Queen鈥檚, installed last month, is ready to preside over June convocation ceremonies and to support students throughout the year. 

By Andrew Willson, Senior Communications Officer

June 13, 2024


Rector installation convocation

Niki Boytchuk-Hale after being installed as the 39th Rector of 成人大片 University at a May convocation ceremony in Grant Hall.

Each convocation ceremony features a different set of graduates crossing the stage, but there鈥檚 a core group of three university leaders who preside over each one: the Chancellor, the Vice-Chancellor (also the Principal), and the Rector, a student who represents their peers at the highest levels of the university administration. And for this year鈥檚 ceremonies there鈥檚 a brand-new Rector who was officially installed in May.

Niki Boytchuk-Hale is a concurrent education student who completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Queen鈥檚 in 2023 and is set to begin studying for a master鈥檚 degree in education in the fall. She has already presided over her first ceremony and is eager to continue celebrating her peers.

鈥淚t was incredible to be on stage for the May ceremony because I remember how excited I was for my own convocation last year, so it was gratifying to be part of such an important day for so many people,鈥 says Boytchuk-Hale. 鈥淚 have a chance to address the graduates with a short speech at each ceremony, and I let them know that they should feel proud and go forward with momentum in a way that鈥檚 best for them and not get too caught up trying to follow a predetermined path. And I also make a point to thank the families and supporters of the graduates, because none of us would make it through university without their help.鈥

An advocate for students

The role of Rector is unique to Queen鈥檚 among Canadian universities. The first Rector took office in 1913, and the position has been filled by a student since 1969. The Rector is the third highest officer of the university, following the Chancellor and Principal.

The Rector鈥檚 responsibilities extend well beyond convocation. They hold a seat on the Board of Trustees, Senate, and a variety of other committees, including those for senior leadership searches. The Rector also bestows the annual Agnes Benedickson Tricolour Awards, which recognizes students for leadership and impact and is one of the most prestigious honours students can earn at Queen鈥檚.

Boytchuk-Hale is already working to raise awareness of the role of the Rector among students to help them understand she is an important resource for them. One of the ways she鈥檚 trying to reach students is with a , the student newspaper, which she is using to explain various aspects of the university and help her peers understand the resources available to them. She is also maintaining an and plans to connect with students in person at university events like orientation, sports games, and club events.

Rector tours JDUC

Rector Boytchuk-Hale recently toured the John Deutsch University Centre (JDUC) to check in on the final stages of the revitalization project and shared photos and updates with students on Instagram. When the JDUC reopens it will be a fully accessible, vibrant, and sustainable hub for student life.

Boytchuk-Hale decided to seek the position of Rector because she believes her previous experiences in student leadership roles, such as orientation leader and director of marketing for the AMS, set her up to be an effective advocate for students.

鈥淭hrough my roles in student government, I鈥檝e worked closely with many students as well as other stakeholders throughout the university,鈥 says Boytchuk-Hale. 鈥淭hat鈥檚 helped me develop a strong understanding of the priorities of both students and administrators. So I know how both groups can work together and use parts of the university鈥檚 structure, like policies and working groups, as mechanisms for change.鈥

Boytchuk-Hale has three pillars in her strategy for her term: communication, wellbeing, and collaboration.

鈥淚 believe that the quality of life of students at Queen鈥檚 needs to be improved, and that we can improve it by working together as a campus community,鈥 says Boytchuk-Hale. 鈥淚t is my goal to ensure not only that resources for students are in place but also that students are aware that these resources exist. By having open lines of communication with students, I will stay aware of their concerns as well as their initiatives. There is a lot of great work going on to improve student wellbeing, and I want to use the position of Rector to amplify it however I can.鈥

Rector Pride poster

Rector Boytchuk-Hale shared her poster for the Kingston Pride Parade on Instagram after taking part in the Pride sign making event held by the Yellow House Student Centre for Equity and Inclusion on campus.

Convocation videos

Don鈥檛 be surprised to see the new Rector walking around after the upcoming convocation ceremonies with a microphone and camera in tow. Boytchuk-Hale will be putting a spotlight on this June鈥檚 graduates by conducting short interviews with several of them as they leave Slush Puppie Place and gather on campus afterward. These videos will offer a miniature portrait of the Class of 2024 and capture some of the post-graduation plans and aspirations of the university鈥檚 newest alumni.

Keep an eye out for these videos and other updates by following the .