Remembering former Queen’s Principal Karen Hitchcock (1942—2019)

Karen Hitchcock. Photo courtesy of Queen’s University.

The 18th principal and vice-chancellor of Queen’s University, Karen Hitchcock, passed away at 76 on Wednesday, Jul. 10, 2019.

Before serving as principal of Queen’s from July 2004 to April 2008, Hitchcock was president of SUNY‘s University at Albany from 1996 until 2003. She was also known for her work as a biologist, and her cell and developmental biology research earned her the 1983-1984 National Science Foundation Professorship for Women in Science and Engineering.

Dr. Hitchcock left a legacy, not only as the first female Queen’s Principal, but as the first American principal, and through her work towards aligning the university’s goals for the coming decades.

While serving as Principal from July 2004 to April 2008, the university began work on the Athletics and Recreation Centre, and acquired land along the shore of Lake Ontario for what would become the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. Innovation Park was opened under Dr. Hitchcock’s oversight in the summer of 2008.

Principal Patrick Deane stated he was “very sorry indeed” to announce Dr. Hitchcock’s passing in a statement to staff.

“I was fortunate enough to work with her during those years,” Deane said, “and I know that many colleagues will also remember her fondly for her openness, her ambitious vision, and her collegiality.”

Dr. Hitchcock returned to the Albany area after leaving Queen’s, where she chaired the regional chamber of commerce, served on public television and radio station boards, and co-hosted a National Public Radio program. She passed away at her home near Albany following an extended illness.

Former Queen’s University Principal Karen Hitchcock greets a student during Queen’s University Homecoming Weekend in 2005. Photo taken by Sajendra Nithiananthan, courtesy of wikimedia commons.

Editorial note: The original version of this article attributed the statement above to former Principal Daniel Woolf. This was due to a miscommunication between Kingstonist and Queen’s University Communications. We regret any confusion this may have caused.

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