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The McGill Context

McGill is one of a group of world-class research-intensive, yet student-centred, universities for which the creation of new knowledge and the education of the next generation of scholars and citizens lie jointly and comfortably at the heart of their mission. McGill’s peers are found among institutions in Universitas 21 across the globe, in the Canadian U15 universities, and with fellow members of the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU), of which McGill is one of only two Canadian institutions. McGill operates in a global context of faculty and student recruitment, research collaboration and partnerships, and service with local, national, and increasingly international, consequence.

First and foremost, McGill demonstrates an unyielding commitment to quality, excellence, and academic freedom in all these endeavours. At a time when the prosperity and strength of our nation and world depend on universities to cultivate the discovery of new knowledge, to translate those discoveries in ways that benefit society, and to prepare highly educated citizens, McGill and its sister institutions must continue to play a vital role. In this context perhaps more than ever, a thorough and on-going strategic planning process, responsive both to internal and external forces, is an imperative.

Despite significant commonalities with other premier research universities, McGill exhibits a combination of exceptional features that distinguishes our University from its peers.1 McGill is one of the most acclaimed research-intensive universities in North America, with a long tradition of excellence that includes such celebrated scholars as Sir Ernest Rutherford, Wilder Penfield, Donald Hebb, Otto Maass, C.P. Leblond, Brenda Milner, Charles Taylor, among many others. The University consistently ranks among the top 100 universities in the world in the Shanghai Jiao Tong Academic Ranking of World Universities (AWRU); in the top 25 in the QS- World University rankings, and over the last decade has been first or second in MacLean’s national university ranking of Canadian medical-doctoral institutions.2

As stated in Strengths and Aspirations, “McGill’s well-proven capacity to integrate its multiple identities as a Montreal, Quebec, Canadian and international university is one of our strongest assets.”3 The University is a truly international institution as reflected in its student body and academic staff, and in the international reach and impact of its research and teaching programs.4 The locations of the downtown Montreal and suburban West Island Macdonald campuses, in a city that is home to nine institutions of higher education and that has one of the highest student populations per capita of all North American major metropolitan areas, provides McGill faculty, staff, and students with extensive opportunities for academic, cultural, and social interaction and growth. At the same time, through engagement with communities beyond our gates and beyond Montreal, McGill makes a significant contribution to the education, health, and welfare of Quebec, Canada and the global community.


1 The distinctive character of McGill, briefly summarized here, has been described elsewhere in more detail. See Connections: Principal’s Report 2010-2011 and Perspectives de développement (Octobre 2010).
2 McGill’s 2012 ARWU rank is 63, up from 64 in 2011, third in Canada behind University of Toronto (27th from 26 last year) and UBC (39th from 37th last year).
3 Strengths and Aspirations, p.8
4 For further discussion see University Master Plan