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Objective 1

Achieve new directions in faculty hiring, retention and career development and leadership


The aggressive academic renewal plan, designed nearly a decade ago, but which was reconceptualised and reinforced by actions emanating from Strengths and Aspirations (2006), has resulted in  a substantial net increase in tenured and tenure-track professorial appointments, notwithstanding a considerable funding gap when compared to peer institutions in Canada and worldwide. Indeed, over time we were able to increase the numerical targets and achieved them. Now, however, we must turn attention to supporting McGill faculty members throughout their careers from recruitment to retirement, but without falling into the common trap, even among top universities, of completely stopping new tenure-track hiring.

As noted in the McGill Staffing Report 2011, our faculty shape, define and characterise the University. They have an impact on the academic units in which they teach, conduct research, administer their local affairs collegially and University governance through representation on Senate, and in which they, advise, mentor and supervise students. Research and scholarship, teaching and academic leadership at McGill depend on a robust, implementable, and sustainable plan and effective programs for supporting academic careers. Academic renewal invigorates our teaching and educational programs, encourages and supports graduate students and faculty to conduct cutting edge research, and contributes to the collegial model of University governance. 


There has been a substantial net increase in tenure stream positions across the University through hiring of 1,071 new faculty members from within and outside Canada during the last decade. In December 2011, of 1,628 academic staff, 895 (55%) had been recruited since January 2000. Successful overall retention for faculty with tenure (McGill has less than 2% attrition) and for pre-tenured faculty (less than 4% attrition) compares favourably to Association of American University (AAU) peers.1

Tenure and promotion processes are being streamlined with continuing progress in this area. Policies concerning non-tenure track faculty are being been strengthened. The Academic Leadership Forum (ALF), a program of faculty professional development, offers orientations for new faculty and new academic administrators, and continuing leadership development for chairs, directors and academic unit heads. While professors at all levels will be offered professional development opportunities, special programs will be designed for associate professors. The Associate Provost (Academic Staff and Priority Initiatives) also plans to reintroduce a series of Faculty Matters forums, starting with a session addressing issues of special concern to associate professors.


Within the confines of our present resources, increases in the overall complement of tenure track staff will be responsive to areas of high strategic importance that express and advance University strategies and objectives, as identified by the Provost in consultation with the Deans in the budgetary compact process, and where resources permit. We must be vigilant in placing significant emphasis and effort on retention, support, and leadership development. (McGill Staffing Report 2011)

During the last decade, more women were recruited and hired at the assistant professor level, but recruitment, retention, and promotion of women professors in some disciplines and departments remains slow and below expectations. Given significant hiring at the assistant professor level, a resulting age gap creates a pressing need to identify, prepare and mentor the next generation of academic leaders—the department chairs, directors of programs, schools, centres and institutes, and in particular principal investigators—who will lead the University’s academic efforts and units during the coming decades.

Interdisciplinary collaboration across Faculties and schools has shown some progress; nevertheless, a fine-tuning of the hiring process as well as the development of structures that facilitate arrangements and recognition of interdisciplinary teaching and research are needed to encourage inter-, cross-, trans-, and multi-disciplinary collaboration among academic units. Going forward, on-going consultations with Deans will develop a new five-year academic staffing plan, with yearly iterations.

Strategies and proposed actions for Objective 1 draw on the Provost mandates and priorities, report of the Academic Renewal Work Group, Teaching and Learning Services (TLS) submission, and other submissions.

Strategy 1.1: McGill will recruit, develop, and retain academic talent in identified priority areas by means of renewed approaches to hiring, retention, and leadership development. (FY2013 Budget Book; Work Group on Academic Renewal2)

Strategy 1.2: McGill will develop and implement mechanisms that will facilitate opportunities for, cluster hiring at the University. (also fulfils  Objective 4) 

Action 1.2.1: Work with the VP-RIR to use the compact process with Deans to identify and implement innovative alignments and collaborations among academic units and among individuals.

Strategy 1.3: McGill will develop and implement mechanisms that will facilitate opportunities for collaboration, including interdisciplinary collaboration, across Faculties, schools, departments, and centres as well as with individual researchers. (Academic Renewal Work Group) 

Action 1.3.1: Implement a variety of specific models for interdisciplinary tenure-track hiring in areas identified in the Strategic Research Plan. (Provost Report to Senate 20 October 2010—“Develop a cluster hiring model for implementation; Academic Renewal Work Group)

Action 1.3.2: Develop and implement policies, processes and practices that reinforce interdisciplinary teaching and research. (Provost’s presentation to Senate 20 October 2011; Academic Renewal Work Group; TLS)

Strategy 1.4: McGill will foster and enhance career development for academic staff and academic administrators. (Provost’s mandate)

Action 1.4.1: Manage trends in faculty hiring and retention, including age distribution and its relationship to reputation, gender composition, and other factors to favour faculty development across the career spectrum. (Academic Renewal Work Group) 

Action 1.4.2: Ensure recruitment and appointment of chairs and directors is carried out in a timely and consistent fashion, including regularization of processes, practices, and compensation according to best practices at peer universities.

Action 1.4.3: Institute formal mentorship programs in all academic units for tenure-track and tenured faculty, including preparation for research leadership and components for evaluating individual academic performance. (Academic Renewal Work Group) (Also fulfils Objective 4)

Action 1.4.4: Redesign existing and introduce new mechanism for ensuring that appropriate support and mentoring are available to faculty at critical junctions (e.g., as they prepare for tenure or assume positions of academic leadership) (Academic Renewal Work Group)

Action 1.4.5:  Increase and expand opportunities for faculty preparation in the use of innovative pedagogical technologies.

Strategy 1.5: McGill will foster effective career development and advancement, based on best practice benchmarks for peer universities, of qualified women and under-represented minority candidates into positions of academic and administrative leadership. (Provost mandate; PTFDECE) (Also fulfils Objective 9)

Action 1.5.1: Implement and adapt, as appropriate, “best practices” relating to diversity in hiring and increased representation in the academic ranks through training and sensitization workshops for search committees and promotion and tenure committees, etc., across our campuses.

Action 1.5.2: Institute across all Faculties special mentoring programs for members of under-represented groups. (PTFDECE)

Action 1.5.3: Strengthen existing mechanisms to ensure equity considerations are understood fully and implemented vigorously in all recruitment, promotion, compensation and in all arenas relative to recognition through honours, prizes, and awards.

Strategy 1.6: McGill will support faculty throughout their careers at McGill—from their recruitment through retirement and with programs that enhance academic performance. (SRI; Academic Renewal Work Group report; R2R project under the auspices of the Associate Provost (Academic Personnel and Priority Initiatives)) (Academic Renewal Work Group)

Action 1.6.1: Develop and implement an electronic recruitment to retirement (R2R) process to map faculty experiences from recruitment to retirement. (SRI, CIO; Academic Personnel Office; Planning and Institutional Analysis (PIA); Provost mandate)

Strategy 1.7: McGill will augment recognition programs and incentives for outstanding research and scholarship, and expand acknowledgement for research and community service. (FY 2013 Budget Book; PTFDECE)

Action 1.7.1: Enhance or create appropriate mechanisms for the nomination and rewarding of qualified candidates for awards in ways that reflect representation across all groups. (PTFECE)

Action 1.7.2: Continue efforts in support of dual-career couples by instituting new practices regarding such appointments.

1 https://secureweb.mcgill.ca/senate/sites/mcgill.ca.senate/files/d11-11_aaude_coache.pdf
2 Items in parentheses indicate source of strategy or proposed action. For example, the overall strategy for Objective 1 derives from the FY 2013 budget book and the Work Group on Academic Renewal.