By Meaghan Thurston
Two McGill projects have received grants valued at $500,000 each from the Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships program.
The scholarship program, jointly managed by The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and Community Foundations of Canada and the Rideau Hall Foundation, with investment from the Government of Canada, is designed to help develop the next generation of innovative leaders and community builders, both at home and abroad through cross-cultural exchanges, international education, discovery and inquiry, and professional experiences. Students will be eligible to apply for the funding through the University.
McGill’s winning projects, “Quantitative biology and Medical Genetics for the world” and “Common Threads through the Commonwealth,” will devote the funds to traineeships and scholarships for a new generation of Canadian and Commonwealth scientists and scholars in the emerging fields of medical genomics and quantitative biology, as well as in cross-disciplinary research on the impact of social factors and policies on health, equity and well-being of populations in Canada and around the world.
“McGill is honoured to receive funding from the Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships program,” said Rosie Goldstein, Vice-Principal, Research and International Relations. “Under the mentorship of McGill’s Genome Québec Innovation Centre and The McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy, ‘Queen Elizabeth Scholars’ will participate in interdisciplinary training spanning emerging molecular methodologies and advanced quantitative techniques, to new forms of governance, and citizenship.”
Professor Mark Lathrop, project lead of “Quantitative biology and Medical Genetics for the world” said, “It is important to make sure that all countries benefit from advances in our understanding of the human genome. By bringing graduate students from the Commonwealth together around these themes and providing them exposure to different academic environments, we believe that the QEII project will have a profound and lasting impact on global scholarship and health.”
Quantitative biology and Medical Genetics for the world:
The advances that have emerged from sequencing of the human genome have dramatically changed the landscape for young scientists. McGill’s Genome Québec Innovation Centre (MUGQIC), a leading international Genome Centre, and its Commonwealth partners have identified training in genomics, bioinformatics and related quantitative approaches as critical to addressing current and future health-related research challenges in the context of the human genome. MUGQIC has been developing a successful training program, and this new funding will support six additional traineeships with the partner institutions (the University of Oxford, the Kenya Medical research Institute, the Uganda Virus Research Institute and MRC Unit, the Noguchi Institute for Medical Research at the University of Ghana and the Institute for Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine at the University of Cape Town). The project will support 18 Canadian students to train for periods of up to one year in Oxford and the other partner laboratories.
Common Threads through the Commonwealth:
The McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy (IHSP), a multidisciplinary research institute, will host internships and provide scholarships in the arts and sciences for both Canadian and Commonwealth students focused on exploring innovative and promising approaches to address key challenges to health, well-being and equity. Scholars will explore, through research and practice, innovative approaches to addressing local, national and global challenges to health, well-being and equity. Through an Innovation Learning Network and in-depth Leadership Development Program, IHSP DJQE Scholars will generate new knowledge on initiatives and strategies with local community partners, policy-makers, and organizations across the Commonwealth, sharing innovative approaches and ideas for future research, policy and practice. The project will be led by Professor Antonia Maioni (IHSP and the Department of Political Science).
From March 2 to March 31, the Bookstore will have its largest sale ever. Save 50–80 per cent off select items in clothing, insignia, stationery, academic reference and general reading books departments. The Computer Store will have deals so good that we aren’t allowed to advertise them. To find out more about the sale or to see the Moving Sale’s Treasure of the Day, follow the Facebook page. Swing by the store and help us lighten the load.
By Cynthia Lee
The faculties of medicine of Université Laval, Université de Montréal, McGill University and Université de Sherbrooke support the intent of the government to optimize resources in Quebec’s health care system to improve access to family physicians and specialists. However, yesterday the faculties voiced deep concerns to the Commission de la santé et des services sociaux about the expected negative impact on the training of future physicians and the number of family physicians in the province.
“As written, Bill 20 seriously compromises the activities that are at the heart of our mission,” said Dr. David Eidelman, president of the Conférence des doyens des facultés de médecine du Québec and dean of the Faculty of Medicine at McGill. “The Bill does not recognize the major role physicians play in training the next generation of family doctors, specialists, nurses and other professionals who provide health care to Quebecers. It also does not consider the clinical research conducted by many.”
Recognizing the role of the teaching physician
Under Bill 20, doctors would be subject to annual patient quotas that do not fully recognize the additional teaching and research responsibilities of professionals practicing in hospitals and other health care institutions with an educational mission, such as Family Medicine Units (FMUs). These physician teachers are responsible for receiving, supervising, training and evaluating the growing number of cohorts of students and residents in their institutions.
According to the faculties, the impact would be three-fold:
- Bill 20 would make it very difficult for physicians to fulfill their teaching responsibilities, which would undermine quality, make it difficult to train the number of family physicians envisioned by the Ministry and discourage those who wish to become physician teachers.
- Family medicine as a career choice would become increasingly less attractive; over time, this would reduce the number of family physicians in Quebec.
- Research activities would be similarly compromised.
“Bill 20 must contain specific terms so that physician teachers can perform both their teaching and their clinical tasks,” said Dr. Renald Bergeron, dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Université de Laval. “In its current form, Bill 20 would negatively impact the quality of care provided to patients, as well as the number and the quality of future family practitioners trained by Quebec’s medical faculties.”
Family medicine under threat
In the field of family medicine, given the shortage of family physicians, there has been a concerted multi-year effort by all stakeholders, including the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS), to promote and position this specialty to make it more attractive and to encourage generalism in medical training.
“At the heart of these initiatives, family physicians have worked rigorously in all areas of medical training. They have taken on this mission and done a brilliant job,” said Dr. Hélène Boisjoly, dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Université de Montréal. “Based on current projections, the annual number of family medicine residency positions, which has doubled over the last ten years, will continue to grow, peaking at 514 in 2017, but Bill 20, in its current form, would seriously compromise our ability to meet this target.”
Six principles that must be guaranteed
In its brief to the Commission de la santé et des services sociaux, the Conférence des doyens des facultés de médecine du Québec set out six principles that must be guaranteed for the faculties to consider supporting Bill 20:
- Principle 1 – Recognition of the crucial importance of formal, ongoing collaboration between the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux, the Ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur, de la Recherche et de la Science and the faculties of medicine in the transformation of the network
- Principle 2 – Recognition of the status of the family physician teacher and the family physician researcher, and adaptation of clinical demands to academic requirements
- Principle 3 – Recognition of the status of the specialist physician teacher and specialist physician researcher, and adaptation of clinical demands to academic requirements
- Principle 4 – Recognition of a collective and interdisciplinary practice of family medicine in teaching environments
- Principle 5 – Recognition that clinical settings, and particularly FMUs, have variable configurations and require resources that are adapted to the populations they serve and teaching needs
- Principle 6 – Recognition that specific material conditions are essential to ensure accessibility and quality of teaching
“Everyone’s contribution is needed to achieve excellence in medical teaching and research,” said Dr. Pierre Cossette, dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Université de Sherbrooke. “We believe we all have a crucial role to play in ensuring high-quality health care is accessible to Quebecers, and teaching by our physicians is at the heart of the solution. We therefore invite the MSSS to an open, constructive dialogue, and ensure the government of our cooperation.”
By Doug Sweet
About 30 members of the McGill community gathered in the Student Centre ballroom Wednesday afternoon to tackle some Big Ethical Questions related to research and responsibility.
The first Hot Button Issues forum, organized by Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Ollivier Dyens and Dean of Students Andre Costopoulos, provided a variety of ethical case studies for discussion at various tables. Topics ranged from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to the use of big data; dual-use research, where results could be used for good or evil purposes; the ethics of programming driver-less cars that need to make decisions autonomously in the case of an impending accident; bio security; and military robots.
Participants considered the ethical dilemmas researchers might experience when trying to balance the objective of expanding knowledge with the consequences, often unintended, of that knowledge being used for other than the intended purposes.
“Ethical norms are a cornerstone for conducting effective and meaningful research, and, generally speaking, the role of the University is to anticipate the various ethical issues in conducting research,” said kick-off speaker Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations) Rosie Goldstein. “We take this role seriously – ethical lapses in research can significantly harm human and animal subjects, students, and the public.
“At the same time, McGill is particularly committed to educating our community about ethical conduct of research – work that involves a number of administrative and academic units, including my own.”
Goldstein said there are good reasons why the ethical behaviour of researchers is under unprecedented scrutiny.
“While we believe that research and scholarship can flourish only in a climate of academic freedom, we also believe that the best insurance against unethical research practices is the knowledgeable individual who can intelligently consider the circumstances being faced.”
She said it’s important to understand that McGill does not directly fund research itself, but supports researchers in their efforts to obtain external funding, largely from government, for their work.
“In order for McGill’s research enterprise to continue to excel, we have diversified funding sources, meaning that McGill partners and collaborates with the full spectrum of organizations,” Goldstein said. “These include non-profits, SMEs, governments at all levels, international bodies, other universities, and foundations, among others.”
McGill’s researchers are guided in part by the University’s Regulation on the Conduct of Research, which establishes a general framework for the conduct of research, and which is currently undergoing a triennial review.
In the middle of the event, McGill’s Executive Chef, Oliver De Volpi, provided a demonstration of how to prepare a fabulous sandwich, offered fair trade bananas and brownies, coffee and a tasty homemade tomato soup plus the sandwich to the intrigued and suddenly hungry participants.
Costopoulos summed up the discussions he had heard through the two-hour event, noting he had picked up some common themes are various tables where different topics were discussed. These included values, costs versus benefits, making decisions consistent with values, equity and unintended consequences and responsibility – we can’t always control how research is used.
“If we can’t control the unintended consequences, how should we approach our work as scientists,” he asked.
And one of the big questions that cropped up at both the discussions concerning the development and deployment of GMOs and the programming decisions required for equipping an autonomous (driver-less) car with the intelligence it needs to function, was: who decides?
Who bears the responsibility for the consequences, intended or otherwise, of scholarly research? The researcher? The end user? Someone in the middle (like a corporation or product producer)?
“Do we have the right to alter the genetic makeup of a species?” Chris Buddle, a professor of forest insect ecology at Macdonald Campus, asked during a discussion about using genetically modified mosquitos to render other mosquitos unable to reproduce. While we’d all like to be free of such things as mosquito bites and malaria, there are other consequences of wiping out a mosquito population, as they are part of the food chain for such species as bats and fish.
The discussions continued during a reception for participants at Thomson House.
And they will continue to take place for a long time to come.
By Megan Martin
Only six months after launching, McGill’s new Seeds of Change crowdfunding platform has produced 12 fully funded projects, and brought in $271,387 from over 1,000 individual gifts to McGill. Put simply – it’s off to a good start.
Seeds of Change is a project that has been in the works for years. The entire purpose of the website is to provide a virtual space to connect our incredibly entrepreneurial students working on philanthropic projects with people in the greater McGill community who want to promote the kind of generosity and growth that Seeds of Change allows for.
One of the best aspects of the platform is that it’s completely centered on students and their transformative efforts. Any student who is working on a project that benefits the University and is philanthropic in nature is welcome to apply to have their initiative posted on the site to help raise awareness and support.
“We want the platform to be viewed as a tool for students who are investing their time and energy into initiatives that make a difference on campus and throughout the world,” said Melissa Forster, Annual Fund Officer and Seeds of Change ambassador. “We’re here to provide support to efforts that are in line with McGill’s values, and help these amazing students reach their goals.”
In many ways, Seeds of Change is a catalyst, granting exposure and helping students achieve the goals they’ve set out for their philanthropic projects. Moreover, by providing participating students with access to the dynamic online platform, they’re are able to post updates throughout the duration of their campaigns, so that donors can track progress in real time; the result is an uniquely interactive experience between donors and the groups running the projects.
To date, the range and scope of Seeds of Change initiatives has been incredible. The platform has already successfully funded projects for experiential learning and entrepreneurial experiences, mental health and wellness, and initiatives aimed at acquiring much needed equipment for a variety of faculties. The benefits of many of these projects can be felt beyond the McGill gates, extending into the Montreal community.
One such project is the Michael Soles Football Award, created in honour of the former McGill Redmen football great who has been battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis for the past nine years. The endowment was established by five of Soles’ former teammates from McGill’s 1987 national championship squad and is designed to assist the McGill football program in its recruiting efforts by creating annual Athletic Financial Awards to support deserving student-athletes. With an initial goal of $80,000, the endowment has raised more than $214,000 in a little over two months.
“The success of this campaign is linked to the qualities Mike Soles has embodied for decades – namely, a commitment to family; the desire to excel and succeed; and being humble in his success,” said Vincent Gagné, one of the fund’s creators and a former teammate of Soles. “Members of our community have stepped forward to support the exceptional leaders of today’s McGill football program in Mike’s honour.”
One of the very first successful crowdfunding initiatives was the Strategic Planning and Community Involvement Fund, which provides support, funding, and resources for McGill Medical students, and student groups, seeking to engage in community-based initiatives.
“The SPCI Committee is set up with a dual mission of both improving the function of the Medical Students’ Society as a student governance body, as well as empowering students in leading community initiatives,” said Amy Huang, second year medical student and Co-President of the SPCI committee. “In the past, SPCI has funded several successful initiatives such as Vitamin Sports, which organizes sessions for elementary school kids to get active and be engaged in sports, as well as the Save the Mothers Walk/Run, which held its inaugural event in Montreal last May to raise funds for improving maternal and child health in developing countries.”
This year, SPCI will be funding community initiatives like the Indigenous Human Rights Conference and Oral Health for Veterans. SPCI has also recently started a Special Projects Fund, which is used to support projects that have a more academic focus, such as Global Surgery Conference and Dean and Advocacy.
Another project with a presence both on campus and within Montreal is the Engineers Without Borders (EWB) McGill Chapter initiative, which is presently active on the crowdfunding site. EWB McGill consists of teams of students aiming to make the next generation of graduates a group of conscious consumers, informed voters, socially responsible professionals and most importantly, leaders for positive change within the community.
“We have been depending on the funds raised from Seeds of Change to cover the costs of sending our selected Junior Fellows overseas to gain priceless experience,” said Chloe Grison, graduating Civil Engineering student and EWB McGill VP of Fundraising. “The crowd funding platform this year has broadcasted our message even further while raising awareness of our campaign and EWB McGill’s other work.”
In addition to its Junior Fellowship program, EWB McGill hopes to expand its outreach efforts in the coming years, including its Fair Trade team, which works to raise support for small-scale farmers and producers, and their Youth Engagement initiative, which addresses social issues in Montreal high schools.
The crowdfunding platform also has a slew of other initiatives up, including the Kibale Project, which supports McGill students interning with the Health and Conservation centre and mobile clinic in Kibale National Park, Uganda.
In addition to serving as a wonderful tool for students, Seeds of Change also offers a unique opportunity from a donor perspective to fund causes at the grass-roots level.
“Donors are now able to give through McGill to sponsor the projects that are closest to their hearts,” Forster said. “It’s a completely new way to support students.”
Moving forward, the hope is that Seeds of Change will continue to encourage students to dedicate themselves to important causes, while empowering McGill’s worldwide network of alumni and friends to support projects that are in line with their values and interests.
By Melody Enguix
Maybe you should take a good look at your partner’s fingers before putting a ring on one. Men with short index fingers and long ring fingers are on average nicer towards women, and this unexpected phenomenon stems from the hormones these men have been exposed to in their mother’s womb, according to a new study by McGill researchers.
The findings might help explain why these men tend to have more children. The study, showing a link between a biological event in fetal life and adult behaviour, was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.
Men’s index fingers are generally shorter than their ring fingers. The difference is less pronounced in women. Previous research has found that digit ratio – defined as the second digit length divided by the fourth digit length – is an indication of the amount of male hormones, chiefly testosterone, someone has been exposed to as a fetus: the smaller the ratio, the more male hormones. The McGill study suggests that this has an impact on how adult men behave, especially with women.
“It is fascinating to see that moderate variations of hormones before birth can actually influence adult behaviour in a selective way,” says Simon Young, a McGill Emeritus Professor in Psychiatry and coauthor of the study.
Smiles and compliments
Several studies have been conducted previously to try to assess the impact of digit ratio on adult behaviour. This one is the first to highlight how finger lengths affect behaviour differently depending on the sex of the person you are interacting with. “When with women, men with smaller ratios were more likely to listen attentively, smile and laugh, compromise or compliment the other person,” says Debbie Moskowitz, lead author and Professor of Psychology at McGill. They acted that way in sexual relationships, but also with female friends or colleagues. These men were also less quarrelsome with women than with men, whereas the men with larger ratios were equally quarrelsome with both. For women though, digit ratio variation did not seem to predict how they behaved, the researchers report.
Digit ratio and children
For 20 days, 155 participants in the study filled out forms for every social interaction that lasted 5 minutes or more, and checked off a list of behaviours they engaged in. Based on prior work, the scientists classified the behaviours as agreeable or quarrelsome. Men with small digit ratios reported approximately a third more agreeable behaviours and approximately a third fewer quarrelsome behaviours than men with large digit ratios.
A previous study had found that men with smaller digit ratios have more children. “Our research suggests they have more harmonious relationships with women; these behaviors support the formation and maintenance of relationships with women,” Moskowitz says. “This might explain why they have more children on average.”
The researchers were surprised to find no statistically relevant link between dominant behaviours and digit ratios. They suggest future research could study specific situations where male dominance varies – such as competitive situations with other men – to see whether a correlation can be established.
The 5/30 Health and Wellness Challenge is 6 weeks of motivation to improve one’s lifestyle. From March 1 to April 11, join thousands of Quebecers in taking up the Health Challenge – 6 weeks of motivation to eat better, get active and increase your wellness. Participants get free support (including an exclusive web app), the chance to win prizes, and so much more. Register by March 1. Get more information about the Health Challenge and find resources to help you take up the challenge on the Health and Wellbeing website.
What are myths and misconceptions about sexual assault? Join us for this workshop and gain a better understanding of how these misconceptions can hinder our ability to provide support to people affected by sexual violence. During this interactive workshop, participants will become familiar with the extent of the problem of sexual assault in the community. They will also have the opportunity to examine the different impacts sexual violence can have on an individual. March 9, 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Go here for more information and registration.
SEDE, in collaboration with Teaching and Learning Services, First Peoples’ House, and the Office for Students with Disabilities offers a regular schedule of training for staff, faculty and graduate students.
By Earl Zukerman
Stacy Lee of Vancouver, B.C., won three gold medals as McGill captured the Geraldine Dubrule trophy as national champions of the Canadian University Synchronized Swim League (CUSSL) at Carleton University on Sunday.
It marked McGill’s second consecutive CUSSL title and 12th overall since the league was formed in 2001-02.
Lee, a 21-year-old civil engineering junior, won the solo routine and helped the Martlets win the combo routine, as well as the team routine, which also included Mara Bender, Jillian Boa, Lia Ciarallo, Shannon Herrick, Kelly Hersh, Megan Smallwood and Hannah Ungar.
Other members of the winning combo routine included Boa and Herrick, plus Aimee Ascencio, Tamar Banon, Alice Brovkine, Helen Chan, Valerie Haber and Mathilde Warren.
McGill also struck gold in the novice team routine with a group composed of Agathe de Pins, Minnie Fu, Andrea Garofalo, Diane Hardy, Jessica Insogna, Sarah Kitner, Marilou Lachance, Andrea Wyers and Diana-Luk Ye.
In addition, the McGill squad posted bronze medal finishes in the solo routine (Kelly Hersh), the duet trio routine (Lia Ciarallo & Kelly Hersh) and the novice solo routine (Minnie Fu).
The Martlets, who are guided by head coach Lindsay Duncan, along with assistant coaches Carrie Mouck, Alexandra Dimmer and Alicia Renaud will close out their great season with 54th annual McGill Water Show at the Memorial Pool in March.
McGill’s 11 previous CUSSL championships occurred in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 an 2014.
By Earl Zukerman
If they scripted it for a Hollywood movie, nobody would believe it. But for the umpteenth time this season, defenceman Samuel Labrecque waited until the drama of high noon – and celebrated his birthday in style – by scoring twice in 17 seconds late in the game as McGill rallied for a 3-1 road victory over Queen’s at the Kingston Memorial Centre, Friday.
The triumph, McGill’s 29th consecutive over Queen’s dating back 11 years, gave the Redmen a 2-0 series sweep in their OUA East best-of-three hockey semifinal. McGill won the opener 2-1 at home last Wednesday with Labrecque assisting on both goals. It was also the sixth straight post-season win over Queen’s for the Redmen, who hadn’t lost a playoff game to the Gaels in more than a century, dating back to an 8-2 loss way back on March 7, 1910. McGill is now 123-50-2 in 175 lifetime meetings in hockey’s third-oldest rivalry that dates back to 1895.
McGill badly outshot Queen’s 58-31, including a 20-9 margin in the final frame but found them selves trailing 1-0 after two periods.
Facing elimination, Queen’s drew first blood at the 48-second mark of the second period when Patrick McGillis converted a pass from Darcy Greenaway on the power-play. The goal stood until late in the third period, when Labrecque struck for back-to-back power-play markers at 12:45 and 13:02. Both goals were one-timers, assisted by Jonathan Brunelle and Cedric McNicoll. Teammate Max Le Sieur added an empty-netter, assisted by captain Benoit Levesque, at 19:50.
After Labrecque had tied it at 1-1, someone on the Queen’s bench, believed to be one of the coaches, said something that drew the ire of the officials and they immediately whistled the Gaels for a bench minor penalty, which led to the winning marker before they could shout “Watch out for Sam Labrecque!”
“It was definitely a fun way to celebrate my birthday,” said the native of Granby, Que., who turned 23 years old with a night to remember. “I think the key was that we stayed composed the entire game. We we’re putting a lot of pucks on their goalie and we knew that if we kept on doing that, one was eventually going to go in. We’re confident enough to know that we can win those type of games, especially in the third if we are down by one.”
Labrecque now leads all OUA goal-scorers in the playoffs, finding the back of tyhe net five times (in addition to three assists) in as many games. During the regular season, he led all CIS rearguards with 13 goals in 26 contests. He has been especially deadly against Queen’s, netting a game-winner in dramatic fashion, three times in four meetings. It all started in the OUA season opener on Oct. 10, where he teamed up with Brunelle and McNicoll and connected for the winner at 19:46 of the third period in a 4-3 victory. In the rematch, at McConnell Arena on Jan. 23, he became the first McGill blueliner in 19 years to notch a hat-trick with three consecutive goals in less than eight minutes, including the deciding marker in a 4-1 conquest.
An economics student who joined the Redmen this season transfer after three years at Clarkson University, Labrecque has now potted 18 goals in 35 games overall, four shy of the McGill single-season record for blueliners set by Gilles Hudon in 40 games during the 1981-82 campaign. With seven game-winniers, he needs two more in that department to match the Redmen single-season overall record of nine held by Tim Iannone, who accomplished the feat in 38 outings during 1987-88.
Goaltender Jacob Gervais-Chouinard, a sophomore from Sherbrooke, Que., made 30 saves for the victory, improving his playoff record to 4-1 this year and 11-4 over his two seasons with the Redmen. Gaels sophomore Kevin Bailie, the league’s goaltender of the year in his freshman campaign, made an astonishing 55 saves in a losing cause
McGill will now get a few days off before hosting the winner of the Carleton-UQTR series in the OUA East best-of-three final. The series will open at McConnell Arena on Wed., Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. A series victory would clinch a berth in both, the Queen’s Cup final (Mar. 7) for the OUA banner and at the CIS Final Eight championship in Halifax, March 13-15.
The Redmen were 2-for-5 on the power-play, while Queen’s was 0-for-2. After five playoff games, McGill is operating at 36.8 per cent efficiency on the power-play (7/19) and 75.0 on the penalty-kill (12/16).
“We were pleased with the way that we played, especially in the second half. As the game wore on, we just kept playing the right way,” said Kelly Nobes, who improved to 150-60-3 in 213 games overall during his five seasons behind the McGill bench, including an impressive 30-9-0 mark in post-season play. “We had well over 50 shots and when you put that many pucks on the net, you’re gonna score eventually. We were confident that were were going to score and fortunately, we got a couple of power-play chances in the third and capitalized.”
By Tod Hoffman
In an effort to make physical inactivity as socially unacceptable as smoking in public buildings or driving under the influence of alcohol, Dr. Ian Shrier has embarked on an ambitious “massive open online course” (MOOC) on sports and exercise. The ten-module course, called The Body Matters, launches on Wednesday, February 25. Already 21,000 people from 176 different countries who are interested in learning about, and improving their participation in, physical activity are registered.
“We’re trying to get people to recognize that all forms of physical activity improve health and encourage them to incorporate simple changes into their lifestyle,” said Dr. Shrier, a sports medicine specialist at the Jewish General Hospital and epidemiologist at the Lady Davis Institute at the JGH. “So, if you drive to work, why not park ten minutes away so that you build a walk into your day? Why wait two minutes for an elevator when you can take the stairs in thirty seconds?”
The course tackles three major themes: the benefits of physical activity, how to prevent injuries and what to do when injuries occur. It is given by internationally renowned experts in sports and exercise, led by Dr. Shrier.
“With thousands of people enrolled, we are recruiting thousands of soldiers on the ground to champion physical activity,” he says. “As part of the curriculum, each student will be assigned to create and promote a particular activity within their school, their community, or even just among their family. It doesn’t need to be elaborate, we just want to see whether there can be broad uptake for the message.”
He suggests that much emphasis has been on playing sports or gym training. However, physical activity is a part of daily life that a person will handle with greater comfort when they are more active overall. Activity maintains strength and balance, which means you are less prone to falling, and can, for example, shovel snow with less muscle soreness. “The greater awareness a person has about how their body functions, the more capable they are of minimizing risk, and our course gives some tools for this,” Dr. Shrier points out. The course also covers topics to help people understand when certain medical tests are useful or not, and some pearls on how to manage their own injuries.
The MOOC is a cost-effective means of reaching a limitless audience. It encourages the creation of a community of physical activity enthusiasts. Participants will have the opportunity to post comments, make suggestions, and pose questions to experts.
The course was developed by Dr. Shrier with the collaboration of the McGill Teaching and Learning Services. Learn more about The Body Matters course and to register.
By Neale McDevitt
Despite the fact that McGill is one of Montreal’s largest employers and boasts upward of 2,000 retirees, it doesn’t have a pan-University association that serves former employees. Yes, the McGill Association of University Teachers (MAUT) has a retiree section, but that serves only retired academics.
But that is about to change, as the McGill University Retiree Association (MURA) is getting ready to open its doors to business.
In fact, the idea of MURA was launched on Nov. 5, 2014, an initiative several years in the making by members of the four major McGill employee groups MAUT, MUNASA (the McGill University Non-Academic Staff Association), MUNACA (the McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association) and SEU (the Service Employees’ Union).
“The plan is to establish one umbrella association for all sectors and categories of employees,” explains Ginette Lamontagne, Interim President of MURA. “It’s been a long time coming and we’re very happy to be up and running.”
MURA’s mandate is to provide opportunities for continued interaction with former colleagues; to offer social, cultural and educational activities; and to keep retirees informed of University issues that are relevant to them. At MURA’s core is the directive to foster – and even strengthen – the ties between McGill and its former employees. “We are pleased to have the full support of Principal Suzanne Fortier and the senior University Administration,” says Lamontagne.
“There are people who over the course of their careers that spanned 10, 20, 30, 40 years were part of a community,” adds Lamontagne, who herself spent 35 years at McGill. “But often with retirement that link is broken. MURA will give them the opportunity to reestablish that connection with former colleagues, to engage in interesting activities, to maintain their McGill affiliation and ties to the McGill community.”
“We also want to link people with existing activities on campus – like the McGill Book Fair; Alumni Association events; and School of Continuing Studies’ Lifelong Learning,” she says.
An interim Board was elected at the Nov. 5 meeting (see full list of members on the MURA web site: mura-arum. association.mcgill.ca). Since then, Lamontagne and Executive members Joan Wolforth, (Vice-President Internal), Henry Leighton, (Vice-President Communications), Wes Cross, (Treasurer) have been actively doing the background work to establish the association, including drafting a constitution; developing a budget and financial structure, creating an email address and a website; and registering with the Registraire des entreprises du Québec. MURA will operate in both official languages.
The finalized constitution will be submitted to the interim Board members in April and a founding meeting will be held in June. The first formal Annual General Meeting will be held in September at which time the results of the election of the regular Executive and Board will be announced.
Right now, MURA’s main focus is getting the word out and recruiting members. A letter was sent to all retirees with the help of Human Resources at the end of 2014 and more than 300 people responded favorably to date. “It’s very encouraging as obviously we want to attract as many members as possible,” says Lamontagne. “In the end, the members will tell us what their vision of MURA is and what they would like it to be. It is a volunteer association and we’re looking for the engagement and the enthusiastic participation of retirees to help build the association.”
All McGill retirees are most welcome to join MURA’s contact list and to keep informed of upcoming events. For more information, please consult MURA’s website or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to a prudent approach, McGill is well-positioned to face a challenging year, Masi tells Senate
By Mark Ordonselli
Provost Anthony C. Masi gave Senate an overview of McGill’s financial situation on Wednesday that predicts budget cuts of 2 to 3 per cent on average for academic and administrative units, respectively, and a deficit in the next fiscal year of about $14 million.
For the current fiscal year, which ends April 30, McGill’s finances are in relatively good shape, Masi said. That’s largely thanks to cost-cutting measures implemented last fall, and to a $15-million contingency fund set aside last April in case the provincial government made deeper cuts to post-secondary education spending.
“We took some bitter medicine when we did the first round of cuts” last year, Masi said, but because of this approach, McGill’s FY2015 operating deficit is likely to be roughly $7 million – still not a balanced budget, but impressive, given the $20-million in mid-year cuts imposed by the Quebec government.
“We predicted the cuts and we prepared accordingly,” Masi said. As a result, “we’re able to navigate better than most [Quebec] universities because we haven’t shied away from taking difficult decisions.
“Our sister universities now need to cut deeper.”
As well, McGill’s spending restraint has left the University well-positioned to honour its salary commitments to all employees, at a cost of approximately $20 million in FY2016.
More government cuts ahead
The Quebec government has already warned universities to expect a fresh round of cuts in FY2016, Principal Suzanne Fortier said at Senate. “Though hopefully not as high as the ones we had this year, there will be a further reduction in our budget.”
The full extent of those cuts likely won’t be known for some time. The government will likely provide preliminary indications about funding levels sometime in May – about a month after McGill has to present its budget for the year to the Board of Governors – but definitive funding numbers won’t be provided until the fall, half-way through the fiscal year.
To help safeguard the University’s finances through an uncertain year, and in anticipation of a fresh round of government cuts, Masi announced the following new cost-saving measures – together, they’ll reduce McGill’s expenses by approximately $16 million.
- An average cut of 2 per cent in the budgets of academic units and 3 per cent in administrative units
- The continuation of a freeze on external hires for administrative and support staff positions, that had been implemented in October 2014
- The central recuperation of salaries liberated when employees leave their positions
- The suspension of overtime payments, except when such work is essential
- A re-design of the policy and practices governing job re-classifications
- Changes to the policy governing how units’ budget surpluses carry forward from year to year
Masi also reaffirmed that McGill must decrease its complement of administrative and support employees but will do so through attrition, saying, “we’re not doing anything more radical than that.”
Modernizing our infrastructure
During the budget discussion, Masi highlighted the critical deferred maintenance issues that threaten several McGill buildings – many of which are more than a century old and in need of extensive work. “We’ve reached the point at McGill where it’s not only embarrassing,” he said, “but potentially dangerous. We can’t afford that.”
To address this, Masi announced new infrastructure allocations of up to $11.5 million per year and noted that, “that may have to go up.”
Looking toward the future
Barring deep new unforeseen cuts, Masi said he expects the FY2016 budget to be part of “a platform that will allow the university to balance its books within five years.” He and Principal Fortier also pointed to some possible causes for optimism on the horizon, such as potential changes to Quebec’s university funding model in FY2017, and low interest rates that make McGill’s debts easier to manage for the time being.
But Masi offered a word of caution, warning that year-on-year deficits resulting from chronic government underfunding could eventually saddle McGill with painful debts – especially if interest rates begin to increase. He highlighted the need to halt the growth of the University’s accumulated deficit – currently around $120 million – because “at some point, we’re going to have to pay this back.”
The Schulich School of Music will take part in the Montréal en Lumière festival and concert series for the first time. This yearly festival gives over one million festivalgoers the chance to experience a multitude of activities combining performing arts, gastronomy, outdoor activities and more. Four concerts of various genres of music, including jazz, classical and contemporary, will be presented at the School of Music from Feb. 19 to 26. Events include:
Feb. 19: Famed Hungarian pianist Dénes Várjon
From Feb. 25 to Apr. 15, McGill will present “To Infinity and Beyond: From neutron stars to neuroengineering,” a unique seven-week public lecture series about how our scientists learn about space and explore new research in neuroengineering.
The lectures will take place Wednesday evenings, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. with lectures beginning at 6:30 p.m. All lectures will be held in Room 151, Bronfman Building (1001 Sherbrooke Street West). Admission: Adults: $114.97. Students and seniors: $68.98. (Includes all taxes).
Advance registration and payment are required. Register online and pay by credit card; by telephone (514-398-7684) and pay by credit card; or by mail and pay by cheque made out to McGill University: McGill Mini-Science, 1430 Peel Street, Montreal, Quebec H3A 3T3. (Consult website for printable registration form) Get more information on the site, send an email to email@example.com or call 514-398-8886.
Sign up now for R.A.D. (Rape Aggression Defense), a self-defense course for women taught by certified instructors at McGill Security Services. The one-and-a-half day training course is offered to all female students, faculty and staff at a cost of only $20. The next session will take place on Mar. 20-21. Once you have signed up you will receive more information on course time and location. Go here for more information and to register.
The McGill Symphony Orchestra returns to Montreal’s Maison symphonique on Friday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. The Schulich School of Music, in collaboration with the Montréal New Music Festival and SMCQ, is proud to present Olivier Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie, a monumental 20th century work. Featured soloists include Kyoko Hashimoto, piano, and Estelle Lemire, ondes Martenot, the first electronic instrument ever used in a concert. The ondes Martenot is an early electronic instrument known for its otherworldly sound, making Messiaen’s masterpiece truly unique. Get more information regarding ticket pricing. Pre-concert activities will take place at 6:15 p.m. at Maison symphonique.
Are you interested in learning more about sexual and gender diversity? During this interactive workshop, participants will gain an understanding of the concepts, language and issues related to sexual and gender diversity. Feb. 25, 9:30 a.m. to noon. SEDE, in collaboration with Teaching and Learning Services, First Peoples’ House and the Office for Students with Disabilities offers a regular schedule of training for staff, faculty and graduate students. Get more information.
By Meaghan Thurston
When Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh visited McGill in 1951 as part of their first cross-Canada tour, 10,000 members of McGill’s community filled bleachers on lower campus to greet them as they arrived in a classy light blue convertible.
Greeted by Principal Suzanne Fortier and Stuart Cobbett, Chair of the McGill Board of Governors, and Rosie Goldstein, Vice-Principal, Research and International Relations, The Princess Royal, Princess Anne, spent the majority of her brief visit to McGill today speaking with 30 students involved in international development work in various disciplines; including, five MasterCard Scholars currently enrolled at McGill, hailing from economically disadvantaged communities in Rwanda, Uganda, Ghana and Nigeria, and two students from World University Service Canada, an organization which assists refugees to study at McGill.
The students were impressed by her wide-ranging knowledge of issues related to international development.
“She’s really down to earth” said Caroline Seagle, a PhD student in Anthropology and a 2014 Vanier Scholar. “She has been almost everywhere [in the world]. She gave the impression of not just being a philanthropist in the sense of leading charitable organizations, but that she really cared and knew about the issues.”
Peter Nshimiyimana, an undergraduate student in the Faculty of Arts, took the opportunity to discuss his hopes for his future. “I talked about where I am from [Rwanda] and what I am interested in doing, and the potential of my career having an effect on the world – I’m interested in international development and social work – my motivation is to give hope to the needy,” he said.
Ifeyinwa Mbakogu, a PhD student in Social Work whose studies focus on child trafficking said her conversation with Princess Anne centered on one of the most popular conversation topics in Canada: the weather.
Princess Anne is actively engaged in charity work and is the President of the Caribbean-Canada Emerging Leaders’ Dialogue. The Emerging Leaders’ Dialogue connects emerging leaders from different countries, across labour, business, government, NGO’s and civil society, during two week programs where participants go into communities and workplaces to discuss challenges, systems and solutions to global issues.
Phil Oxhorn, the founding Director of the Institute for the Study of International Development (ISID), spoke with the Reporter in advance of the royal visit about the developing ties between Emerging Leaders’ Dialogue and ISID.
“ISID’s mission is to help students become better global citizens by exposing them to new and interesting opportunities abroad and helping them develop respect for different ways of thinking and living,” said Oxhorn.
As part of ISID’s mandate to build bridges between McGill and the international development community, ISID has been collaborating with ELD in a number of ways over the past few years, including identifying best practices in the field of leadership learning and the development of knowledge networks.
Asked to summarize what he hoped would come of the royal visit, Oxhorn emphasized the potential to enhance the “synergies” between ELD and McGill. “[The Dialogue program] is in its own focused way doing what McGill has been all about for a long, long time – that is, bringing together people who wouldn’t otherwise meet and exposing them to a new point of view in theory and practice.”
Salima Visram, a Kenyan-born undergraduate student and social entrepreneur who met the Princess Royal today hopes that Emerging Leaders Dialogue will take root in her home country: “I’m really excited to see how Emerging Leaders Dialogue can make a difference in Africa. There are so many leaders there, but there’s no network to do that as such.”