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McGill had prepared for more Quebec budget cuts, Fortier tells Senate

McGill Reporter - Wed, 2014-09-17 16:53

““The figures [of the Quebec budget] are not what we would like to see, but we had prepared for them,” Principal Suzanne Fortier told Senate earlier today. “We are not in a crisis situation.” / Photo: Owen Egan.

By McGill Reporter Staff

Because McGill had already anticipated another round of funding cuts from the Quebec government, the University is well placed to weather this next round of spending reductions, Principal Suzanne Fortier told Senate Wednesday afternoon.

“We had anticipated that the (Quebec) budget would not have the kind of resources that had been talked about earlier,” she said. “The figures are not what we would like to see, but we had prepared for them. We are not in a crisis situation.”

McGill is still processing the complex details of what are called the Règles budgétaires, a 180-page book of spending details that was delivered to universities at the beginning of September, four months into the fiscal year.

Asked how long it will take until McGill comes up with firm numbers in terms of the size of the provincial funding reductions, Prof. Fortier said it could be a month before an in-depth analysis is complete and some erroneous assumptions the government has made are corrected.

In addition, Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance) Michael Di Grappa told Senate he had attended a meeting of his counterparts at other Quebec universities Wednesday morning, at which it was decided to seek a meeting with senior government officials to try to clear up considerable confusion over the actual extent of spending cuts for universities. Getting that meeting could take three or four weeks, he said.

In material prepared in response to a written Senate question on the effects of the Quebec budget on McGill’s operations, it was pointed out that when the University’s Board of Governors approved the 2015 budget last April, it was anticipated that the Quebec government’s operating grant to the University would be $360 million. That budget included a $7-million deficit for the University. Following recent spending updates from the province, that grant is now forecast to be about $345 million. But it is too soon to know the effect on the deficit.

As firmer numbers are developed, a program of consultations will be established as needed this fall to discuss the budget shortfall.

 

Inaugural Spiegel Sohmer Tax Policy Colloquium

News - Wed, 2014-09-17 15:05

The Faculty of Law and the Stikeman Chair in Tax Law are pleased to announce the creation of the Spiegel Sohmer Tax Policy Colloquium, to be hosted annually at McGill University starting this Fall 2014 term.

The Spiegel Sohmer Tax Policy Colloquium has been made possible by a generous grant from the law firm Spiegel Sohmer, for the purpose of fostering an academic community in which learning and scholarship may flourish.

Category:  law_fac Source Site:  Source Site Published Date:  Wed, 2014-09-17 15:05

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Talking Management with Karl Moore: Building your brand in the era of digital marketing

News - Wed, 2014-09-17 14:01


This is Karl Moore of the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University, Talking Management for The Globe and Mail. Today, I am delighted to speak to Mitch Joel, who is the president of Twist Image, one of the top digital marketing firms in the world.

Category:  mgmt_fac Source Site:  Source Site Published Date:  Wed, 2014-09-17 14:01

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Myriam Denov awarded Trudeau Fellowship

News - Wed, 2014-09-17 11:39

There are thousands of children born of war-time rape worldwide, but very little is known about their lived experiences and their relationships with their families and communities. Professor Myriam Denov, of McGill's School of Social work, has been awarded one of Canada's most prestigious research awards to help fill this knowledge gap. Named Sept. 16 as one of three recipients of the Trudeau Foundation’s 2014 Trudeau Fellowships, she hopes to shed light on an “invisible, but resilient” population of children and youth. 

Category:  press_releases Source Site:  Source Site Published Date:  Wed, 2014-09-17 11:39

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The “hidden injury” in sports

News - Wed, 2014-09-17 10:46

Category:  press_releases Contact Person's Name:  Julie Robert Organization Name:  McGill University Health Centre Email:  julie.robert@muhc.mcgill.ca Work Phone:  514 934-1934 ext. 71381 Source Site:  Source Site Published Date:  Wed, 2014-09-17 10:46

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McGill comes in 21st in QS World University Rankings

News - Wed, 2014-09-17 10:22

McGill University and the University of Toronto might be neck-and-neck in the quest to be the top-ranked Canadian university in the world, but the real story in this year’s new QS World University Rankings has to be the surge of several other Canadian universities, including Université de Montréal, which jumped to 83rd in the world from 92nd last year.

Category:  mgmt_fac Source Site:  Source Site Published Date:  Wed, 2014-09-17 10:22

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McGill Web System - issues loading pages

News - Wed, 2014-09-17 09:14

The McGill Web Management System is currently experiencing intermittent issues loading web pages.  We are investigating and hope to resolve the problems as quickly as possible.  Thank you for your patience.

Category:  it_services Source Site:  Source Site Published Date:  Wed, 2014-09-17 09:14

Job Opportunity: Joint Tenure Track Appointment in Critical Development Studies

News - Tue, 2014-09-16 16:29

The Department of Anthropology and the Institute for the Study of International Development (ISID) at McGill University invites applications for a jointly appointed Tenure-Track Assistant Professor position in Critical Development, with a disciplinary focus in Anthropology, effective August 1, 2015.  We are seeking candidates with conceptually informed ethnographic projects whose work is centrally concerned with the critical exploration of development, broadly defined.  The successful candidate will bring anthropological insights to timely issues concerning development in ways tha

Category:  cdas Attachments:  flyer-anthropology-mcgill-jobad-criticaldevelopment.docx Source Site:  Source Site Published Date:  Tue, 2014-09-16 16:29

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McGill’s Myriam Denov awarded prestigious Trudeau Fellowship

McGill Reporter - Tue, 2014-09-16 15:29

Myriam Denov calls children born of wartime rape “an invisible population,” and says they often have problems reintegrating into society.

Participatory research uses art to shed light on the lives of children born of war

By Meaghan Thurston

There are thousands of children born of war-time rape worldwide, but very little is known about their lived experiences and their relationships with their families and communities. Professor Myriam Denov, of McGill’s School of Social work, has been awarded one of Canada’s most prestigious research awards to help fill this knowledge gap. One of three recipients of Trudeau Fellowships awarded in Canada in 2014, she hopes to shed some light on an “invisible, but resilient” population of children and youth.

The project will be conducted in partnership with two NGOs: Canadian-based Children/Youth as Peacebuilders (CAP) and Watye Ki Gen, a local African organization that works specifically with women who have survived armed captivity. The Trudeau Fellowship program provides its Fellows with access to a vast network of scholars and mentors focused on research on human rights and advocacy, in addition to $225,000 in funding over three years.

Bearing witness

Denov became aware of the issue of children born of wartime rape when working in Sierra Leone and Colombia with former child soldiers. The image of the “iconic child fighter” is a young man armed with an AK-47. Yet, many girls too have been involved in armed conflicts worldwide. In Uganda, where Denov will carry out her Trudeau research, civil war raged for more than two decades and tens of thousands of children were abducted to fight for the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), perhaps as many as 30 per cent of them girls, many of whom were forced to become “wives” to rebel commanders and gave birth to children. While there has been investment in recent years in scholarship regarding the reintegration of child soldiers and the realities of wartime sexual violence, “there’s been an invisible population, and that’s the children born of these atrocities,” says Denov.

For the former child soldiers, reintegration into their communities can be its own battle; however, their children may face an even greater challenge. Denov remembers one former child soldier named Mamusu, then 17 years of age with two young children, who seemed to be followed by the “stain of war.” “Mamusu reported experiencing stigma and rejection by family and community because of her former affiliation with an armed group, as well as being a victim of sexual violence. Community members often referred to her children as ‘devil children’ and ‘rebel babies.’ She wondered what would become of them.”

CAP and Watye Ki Gen are currently undertaking a quantitative study to determine how many children were born of rape during the conflict, with estimates of as many as 10,000.

Children know best

Denov has made her mark nationally and internationally by focusing her research on marginalized groups of children and youth, but she is also a pioneer, and an emerging expert, in the use of participatory methods of research. In Sierra Leone, for example, she employed a community-based participatory research method called PhotoVoice, which combines the use of photography with group and community awareness building.

In the PhotoVoice project, children and youth used cameras to document their daily lives. Motivated by their art-marking, peer-to-peer-groups facilitated discussions about their past experiences, their post-conflict lives, and their potential opportunities for the future. One former child soldier participating in the research program captioned a photo he had taken of a man in his community, saying: “I want to be like the man in this picture. He is an educated man, he spends time with his books and I have never seen him sitting idly around. I see him as a role model and I want to be even more educated than he is.”

Denov is certain that the Trudeau project’s success hinges on involving the children and youth in the research, as actively as possible. She intends that they will be trained to conduct research themselves and she fully expects that they will outshine their adult counterparts, as they have done in her previous studies. “In my previous work we had young people that not only demonstrated excellent research skills, but also went beyond their role and became mentors for other war-affected youth. It really opened my eyes to the capacity of young people and confirmed my hope of bringing young people into the process of research.”

She credits the Child’s Rights Unit of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) for taking a chance on her participatory methodologies at the beginning of her research career, at a time when it was not widely accepted to do so. “I had an idea to engage children beyond being research subjects and CIDA was cutting edge in terms of supporting research that was children’s rights focused. I proposed to them this idea of child participation on the research team, and I thought ‘they’re never going to let me do this.’ My hat’s off to them because they supported it, and they encouraged me, and through that project many doors opened that led me to where I am today. It has allowed me to work with youth and young people in so many different contexts.”

Denov’s interest in art as a research tool has been amplified by what she’s seen work on the ground. When working with young people, art has proven to be an accessible means of communicating about hard issues, whether it’s through mask-making, drawing, or photography. Denov hopes to use similar arts-based research methods in the Trudeau-funded project, including engaging children and youth as researchers and as facilitators of peer-to-peer focus groups.

A global issue

She sees the potential for her research-findings to influence public programs and policies beyond the borders of Uganda among other marginalized populations of youth, or in situations where their citizenship or status is challenged, for example with refugee youth and aboriginal youth. In Quebec between the years of 1998-2007, eight of the top ten countries from which the province accepted refugees were war affected nations (Ministère de la Citoyenneté et de l’Immigration, 2009).

The influx of refugees who have been a part of armed conflict is in part why, at home in Montreal, Denov facilitates a support group for youth affected by war. “They’re survivors,” she says. “They look like average teenagers…but I know I wouldn’t survive the conditions they lived in, and they have. Many of them tell me that people in Canada, including helping professionals, don’t understand what they have been through and it’s difficult to find appropriate support when they need it.”

And she is already looking ahead to the possibility of conducting a multi-country study of children born of war, further expanding the field of knowledge. But for now, she has some leg work to do in Uganda, which is made easier by the support she will receive from the Trudeau Foundation and her NGO partners. “This is a challenging topic and I am incredibly grateful that they are taking it on.”

 

RSC names new members of The College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists

McGill Reporter - Tue, 2014-09-16 15:00

By Meaghan Thurston

The Royal Society of Canada has named the inaugural 91 members of The College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists today. The new members include McGill’s Aashish Clerk, Associate Professor of Physics and a Tier-II Canada Research Chair, and Madhukar Pai, Director of McGill’s Global Health Programs, Associate Professor in the Dept. of Epidemiology, Biostatistics & Occupational Health, and Associate Director of McGill’s International TB Centre.

Members have been nominated by 51 Canadian universities and the National Research Council, and they represent the emerging generation of scholarly, scientific and artistic leadership in Canada. Together, the members of the College will address issues of particular concern to new scholars, artists and scientists, for the advancement of understanding and the benefit of society, taking advantage of the interdisciplinary approaches fostered by the establishment of the College.

“McGill is extremely proud to have Professors Clerk and Pai included among the foundational members of The College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists,” said Dr. Rosie Goldstein, Vice-Principal, Research and International Relations. “As Members, they will have the opportunity to draw upon the expertise of their RSC colleagues to maximize their leadership potential, and advance both scholarly thinking and practice by generating new insight, and provoking debate.”

Aashish Clerk

Professor Clerk is a leading theoretical physicist active in the general area of engineered quantum systems, and in particular the relatively new fields of quantum electromechanics and optomechanics. His research helped establish the basic theoretical language used to describe measurement, control and dissipation in quantum optomechanical systems, where light interacts with mechanical motion in quantum regimes. Among other awards, he was the recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan fellowship in 2007, and an NSERC E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship in 2014.

“I am honoured and humbled to have my work recognized by the RSC, and am looking forward to interacting with and learning from other members of the College,” says Professor Clerk.

Madhukar Pai

Professor Pai is a renowned epidemiologist whose research is mainly focused on improving the diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis, especially in high-burden countries like India and South Africa. In addition to his academic appointments, he serves as a Consultant for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and on the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, Geneva.

“As a physician and a global health researcher, I am hoping to learn from the diverse, interdisciplinary membership of the College,” says Professor Pai. I am also looking forward to the opportunity to interact with and be inspired by the distinguished Fellows of the RSC.”

The Presentation for this first cohort will take place on Friday, Nov. 21 at Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in Quebec City, with a banquet to follow.

 

Information Session on Future Earth Secretariat

News - Tue, 2014-09-16 14:59

Information Session on Future Earth Secretariat

 September 29th, 2-3:30pm in Room W4/12 of the Stewart Biology Building

 

Category:  office_of_sustainability Source Site:  Source Site Published Date:  Tue, 2014-09-16 14:59

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Two entering students awarded major scholarship

McGill Reporter - Tue, 2014-09-16 14:00

By McGill Reporter Staff

Anna Henley and Simona Bene Watts have been named McGill University’s 2014 Schulich Leaders, each receiving a Schulich Leader Scholarship for students entering undergraduate studies in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM).

Created in 2011 by entrepreneur and philanthropist Seymour Schulich, Schulich Leader Scholarships are 40 undergraduate scholarships awarded annually to students pursuing undergraduate studies in STEM subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. This $100 million scholarship program is the largest undergraduate STEM scholarship opportunity in Canada and the second-largest endowment to Canadian academia in history. This year, there were 1,147 Schulich Leader Nominees.

Two scholarship recipients – “Schulich Leaders” – are selected at each participating university. One undergraduate scholarship valued at $80,000 is designated for a student pursuing a degree in an engineering program. The second undergraduate scholarship, valued at $60,000 is awarded to a student pursuing a degree in a science, technology or mathematics program (non-engineering based).

Anna Henley

Henley, from St. John’s, NF, is the recipient of the award valued at $80,000. A graduate of St. Bonaventure’s College, she entered the Department of Mechanical Engineering this fall. Henley was selected for her outstanding academic record and extra-curricular achievements, core requirements for the award. Among these: she is the youngest-ever winner of the Newfoundland Triple Crown of Rowing, and participated in the 2013 Canada Summer Games; she also is a founding member of a committee that maintains organic garden plots throughout St. John’s and donates the harvests to local food banks.

 

Simona Bene Watts

Bene Watts, of Lee Creek, BC, is the recipient of the award valued at $60,000. A graduate of Salmon Arm Secondary School, she entered the Faculty of Science’s Biological, Biomedical & Life Sciences program this fall. Bene Watts was selected for her outstanding academic and community-service achievements, core requirements for the award. Her accomplishments include helping to organize a humanitarian trip to Ghana to build a primary-school classroom, and serving as the driving force behind a fundraising fashion show for the African famine.

 

“Fostering leadership in STEM fields is vital to Canada’s economic prosperity,” said Seymour Schulich.“ A scholarship of this size will motivate high school students from across the country to pursue their dream and in the process help to ensure our country’s competitive position. This scholarship, now in its third year, has positively impacted 120 students from across the country in 10 provinces distributing more than $7.6 million to Canadian Schulich Leaders since 2012.”

Open to every high school, secondary school and CEGEP across Canada, Schulich Leader Scholarships recognizes Canadian students who plan to study one of the STEM disciplines during their undergraduate years at university. These students demonstrate two of the following attributes: academic excellence, outstanding community, business or entrepreneurial leadership or financial need.

For more information, go here.

 

 

McTavish St. stairs are closed for now

McGill Reporter - Tue, 2014-09-16 13:50

As part of the measures being taken to enhance security and safety around the City of Montreal’s McTavish St. sewer and water-main construction project, the stairs at the intersection of McTavish St. and the south side of Dr. Penfield Ave. will be closed immediately for an indeterminate period of time.

Signs will be placed to direct pedestrians to an alternate route across Dr. Penfield, via the plaza on the west side of the Leacock Building.

We would like to remind everyone again that it is very important to obey signs and the signals of flagmen/women and to avoid wearing headphones near the construction site so that reversing warning signals can be heard.

Please be patient and please be safe.

For more information on this project and for regular updates, please visit www.mcgill.ca/construction

Clerk, Pai named to RSC’s College of New Scholars

News - Tue, 2014-09-16 13:04

McGill University physicist Aashish Clerk and epidemiologist Madhukar Pai are among the inaugural members named today to the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists.

Category:  press_releases Contact Person's Name:  Chris Chipello Organization Name:  Media Relations Office Email:  christopher.chipello@mcgill.ca Work Phone:  514-398-4201 Source Site:  Source Site Published Date:  Tue, 2014-09-16 13:04

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Atelier TAG in consortium with Jodoin Lamarre Pratte architectes wins Salle de spectacle de Saint-Jérôme competition

News - Tue, 2014-09-16 11:34

Atelier TAG in consortium with Jodoin Lamarre Pratte architectes has won the Salle de spectacle de Saint-Jérôme competition.  Manon Asselin (B.Arch. 1992, M.Arch. 2001) is co-founder, with her partner Katsuhiro Yamazaki (B.Arch. 1996), of Atelier TAG. They were Gerald Sheff Visiting Professors in Architecture at the School during the Fall 2012 term.

Category:  architecture_sch Source Site:  Source Site Published Date:  Tue, 2014-09-16 11:34

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Construction project launched at Schulich Library

McGill Reporter - Tue, 2014-09-16 10:25

Workers install the scafolding around the Macdonald-Stewart Library Building. / Photo: Neale McDevitt

By McGill Reporter Staff

Construction begins in earnest today at the Macdonald-Stewart Library Building on the downtown campus, home of the Schulich Library of Science and Engineering.

Scaffolding will be erected around the building once again (it was sheathed in scaffolding and netting during a recent roof-replacement project) as stonemasons examine the 120-year-old, late-Victorian gem from inside and out to determine the degree to which its old stone has deteriorated.

During the roof project, degradation was observed from above, which prompted McGill to commission a report early this year into the state of the building. That report, received this summer, recommended some quick action to be taken before winter sets in to effect repairs before the freeze-thaw cycle has a chance to exacerbate cracks in stone and joints, said Bob Stanley, Director of Project Management in the University Services Department.

On the inside, crews will construct interior walls to seal off certain areas, floor by floor, from the rest of the interior space. This is to help minimize dust, noise and cold from disturbing those who are studying and working in the Library, but there will still be significant disruptions between now and Christmas, said Diane Koen, Senior Director of Planning and Resources for McGill’s libraries.

In order to maintain the number of study spaces, some shelves and their contents will be relocated. Much of the material, mostly bound journals, will be moved to storage areas in the Currie Gym and will remain retrievable, Koen said.

“Obviously, we’d prefer not to disrupt our students and staff at this busy time of year, but we have no choice and we will make the best of it,” Koen said. “We’re asking for everyone’s patience and our staff will do their best, as always, to try to deal with people’s problems and concerns as best we can. We are trying to ensure that the heavy-duty construction will take place mostly in the morning, when there is less demand on the Library.”

The situation is not dangerous, Stanley said. “We’re taking the necessary steps now to make sure it won’t become dangerous. We have to take this seriously and we are. Stone deteriorates at an advancing rate, and the more water infiltrates cracks in the stone and freezes in the winter, the larger those cracks become. It’s a spiraling cycle. The larger the cracks become, the more water can infiltrate. It’s the same with any stone building anywhere in Montreal. We’ve had considerable experience with this issue on the downtown campus where 37 of our buildings were built before 1900. This one was built in 1893.”

The initial work is expected to cost a bit less than $4 million and is scheduled to be completed by Christmas. Pedestrians circulating near the building are asked to obey Security personnel, particularly while the scaffolding is being erected.

For more information, visit www.mcgill.ca/library for a set of Frequency Asked Questions, or contact reno.library@mcgill.ca and staff will respond promptly.

The Macdonald-Stewart Library Building, not to be confused with the Macdonald-Stewart Building on the Macdonald Campus, has some significant history. It was built in 1893 as a Physics Building. In 1908, Sir Ernest Rutherford won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in recognition of some of the work he conducted in the building early in the new century, which led to his being considered “the father of nuclear physics.”

 

McGill maintains Top-25 place in QS rankings

McGill Reporter - Mon, 2014-09-15 21:45

Photo: John Kelsey

By McGill Reporter Staff

McGill has maintained its ranking of 21 in the QS World University Rankings, it was announced earlier today in London, England.

This is the 11th year in a row that Quacquarelli Symonds has ranked McGill in the Top 25 of the world’s universities. McGill is Canada’s second-ranked university in this year’s QS standings, almost tied with the University of Toronto, which ranks 20th.

“It is to the McGill community’s great credit that we are not only holding our own, but doing so in a difficult financial climate,” said Principal Suzanne Fortier. “Rankings are not an exact science, and different methodologies measure different things. The value, I think, is in the cumulative view of an institution over time. Eleven years in the QS Top 25 is a big part of that long view, and I am proud of McGill’s consistency in maintaining standards of excellence.”

Other rankings, including the Times Higher Education and Maclean’s Magazine, will be made public in the coming weeks.

 

Dads and dads-to-be wanted for McGill study

McGill Reporter - Mon, 2014-09-15 16:07

McGill researchers are looking for new dads and dads-to-be to help them develop a new website to provide dads-to be and new dads with information and strategies to help adjust to the changes of parenthood, enhance emotional wellness and engage in healthy behaviours. By participating in this research study, you will help tailor the website to the needs of new dads and dads-to-be.

Participants will be required to complete an on-line survey asking questions related to mood, stress, sleep, pregnancy and parenting concerns, physical activity and eating habits. They will receive a $10 gift card after completing the survey.

Participants may also be contacted for a brief telephone interview to provide more information about what the website should include. They will receive a $10 gift card after completing this interview.

Potential participants must have a partner who is pregnant or just gave birth within six months of sending us an email indicating their interest!

Interested parties should send an email to Healthydads@clinepi.mcgill.ca

 

 

Touring McGill through the eyes of a student

McGill News Magazine - Mon, 2014-09-15 15:34
by Jennifer Nault

Jeremy Rothschild, BSc ’14, one of the student tour guides for McGill’s Welcome Centre, offers a group of visitors a sense of what life is like on the downtown campus (Photo: Alex Tran)

Called in at the last minute in to fill in for another tour guide who’s absent, Jeremy Rothschild, BSc’14, bolts into McGill’s Welcome Centre with the firm look of concentration that he likely conveys when tackling his physics assignments, or stealing the soccer ball from an opponent in one of his intramural games. Parents, as well as prospective students with their younger siblings in tow, mill around the open, brightly lit room on McTavish, evincing quiet anticipation. They have made the long – and in some cases, expensive – trek to McGill specifically to explore the campus.

“We are finding more and more that families are making university tours into a holiday experience, and they’ll be doing the circuit,” says Welcome Centre supervisor Tania Raggo. “At the same time, they’re going to so many universities, that one of the pitfalls of doing so many tours, they may begin to blend together.”

Still, Raggo suspects the the McGill tours will stand out for these families.  “We offer a different experience than most tours by providing [people] with an authentic sense of what the student experience is like. We look for tour guides with personality, who can transmit their distinct view of student life, drawn from their own experiences, rather than giving them statistics and numbers,” says Raggo. “We encourage our tour guides to use personal anecdotes. We do have a script, but try to keep it fairly loose.” The Welcome Centre organizes about 500 tours each year and almost 15,000 people take part in them.

On today’s tour, families from Iran, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco are aptly representative of the mix Rothschild says he tends to see in his groups: “I’d say it’s about two-thirds from the U.S. and the rest are either international or Canadian.”

Rothschild, beginning a master’s degree in physics, begins the tour with a radiant smile. And then it’s full-steam ahead. Covering as much ground as possible on a sunny September afternoon, he winds his way to locations such as the Rutherford Physics Building, Morrice Hall, and then, with the intent to show – and disarm fears about – large first-year classrooms, he takes the group into the belly of the beast that is Leacock 132, which seats over 600 people. The room is crammed with students just settling in for a lecture. Some peer up at the group, likely remembering their own tours not so long ago. Having to raise his voice in the buzzing auditorium, Rothschild tells the group, “Don’t worry. The classes get much smaller after freshman year, and many freshmen, such as myself, actually have fond memories of this room!”

Hustling the group quickly over to the imposing Leacock 132 means that the tour bypassed the student-run ice-cream parlour, Frostbite. “[It] just cannot fit into the tour,” says  Rothschild. “I tried once, and we were left waiting far too long for people to get their scoops. They’ll just have to come back later.” And many do.

“Nowadays, it’s rare to see students who don’t come with their parents,” says Rothschild. Raggo concurs: “Choosing a university has evolved. It’s become a lot more of a family decision, partly because of the high cost involved in sending a child away for university. There is also the idea that going away is just an incredible, irreplaceable life experience. So, when they come here, we understand why they have so many questions.”

On the ground, Rothschild tells it like it is, and doesn’t coddle. Parents ask most of the questions along the way, and one wonders whether some of the prospective students would ask more questions, or take more initiative, if they were sans parents.

One parent inquires about the student protests of 2012, and Rothschild provides balance in addressing her concerns, saying that, yes, it was an intense time, while adding that the campus itself wasn’t much affected by the protests. When one parent raises an eyebrow to his use of the term “McGill ghetto,” Rothschild doesn’t miss a beat, explaining, “You’ll get to understand that ‘McGill ghetto’ is a term of endearment – it’s a really nice area where students live in close proximity to campus, and actually, it’s just over there,” pointing east. Several parents remark that they will check out the area at the end of the tour.

One of many unheralded ambassadors for McGill, Rothschild evidently loves his job, and often goes above and beyond the call of duty. “I like showing the University off, yet there are so many nice places on campus that you can only do so much in an hour and a half. But if I have extra time after a tour, sometimes I’ll take them out to show them a bit more.” The group is engaged and hangs on his every word, which makes it all the more meaningful when he tells them that he chose to stay and do his master’s at McGill because he loves the University too much to go elsewhere.

Venturing in or out of the Welcome Centre, one passes by coordinator Darleen Maselli, unassuming front-desk sentinel and veteran answer-provider, who admits she suspects some of the uninitiated view the role of the Welcome Centre as something akin to Tourism Montreal. “We get lots of questions about where to eat, what to do in Montreal. Of course, we get the normal questions about McGill, such as entrance grade requirements and residence life, but then we also field some very peculiar questions once in a while. I’ve received calls about where to donate bodies, where to look for fossils – in that particular case, I was quite concerned the woman was going to show up with a shovel! Well, it makes the job lively.”

As the tour comes to a close, the group splinters off, with many staying behind to ask Rothschild and Maselli additional questions. Off in the distance, one of the families with several small children appear to be heading over for a trip to Frostbite.