Strengthening student services
There are more challenges to being a student than those found on exams. Navigating the sometimes complex maze of academic and administrative affairs can be daunting, whether you’re a new student figuring out what courses to take, midway through your degree and seeking personal counselling, or a final-year student seeking post-graduation opportunities.
As part of the Principal’s Task Force on Student Life and Learning, one of the hallmarks of Principal Heather Munroe-Blum’s first term in office, McGill identified ways to improve the student experience by reducing bureaucracy, getting students the information they need effectively, and providing additional guidance throughout their university years. And through support to Campaign McGill, the University has been able to realize many components of that vision, expanding and enhancing support services for students on its two campuses, and improving upon academic advising and mentorship programs.
Built into the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation’s extraordinary Campaign gift of $20 million to support the student experience at McGill is $3 million that has been designated for undergraduate student advising, academic advising, student services and other special service projects.
Similarly, the Kelly and Michael Meighen Endowment for Student Advising and Support, established through a $5-million gift from the Hon. Michael Meighen, BA’60, and his wife Kelly, will provide important funding for student services, academic advising, special activities like seminars, and helping students integrate more smoothly into university life.
“When you have students coming here from other parts of the province, the country and the world, some of them as young as 17 or 18, it is essential to give them a helping hand,” says Meighen, a Campaign McGill Co-Chair.
Sometimes that helping hand assists students as they manage periods of personal, financial or medical difficulty. At other times, it is about providing psychological and psychiatric support to treat conditions that may interfere with their emotional wellbeing, including anxiety, depression and eating disorders. A donation from Jacques Balayla, MDCM’12, for instance, honours the memory of his late mother, Juliette Benaroch, and supports medical students who are facing personal life challenges that might impact their ability complete the MDCM program.
Mentorships can also be an invaluable part of that student success story. Dr. Norman Miller, DDS’74, has made a gift and bequest to create the Dr. Norman Miller Student Advisory Program in the Faculty of Dentistry, a program that will pair Dentistry students with mentors to provide assistance, counsel and encouragement throughout their studies – and even continue with that support following graduation.
“McGill attracts the finest minds in the world,” says Miller, “and I believe that providing these students with personalized, one-on-one attention and compassionate education can produce truly unbelievable results.”