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Highlights from the year’s first Board of Governors meeting

Last Thursday was McGill’s Board of Governors first meeting of the 2013-2014 academic year, and my first meeting as Principal. It is my pleasure to now share with you some highlights from the Board’s open and closed sessions.

I reported on four items in my opening remarks:

  • This fall’s orientation was well-organized and well-received by students, staff, parents and the community at large. Student leaders have worked hard to continually improve Orientation Week. Our fall enrolment of approximately 38,800 students is comparable to last year’s count.
  • Both Dr. David Eidelman, Vice-Principal (Health Affairs) and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, and I made statements as part of the current debate on Quebec’s proposed Charter of Values, reaffirming McGill’s commitment to respecting and promoting diversity and inclusiveness on our campuses. The right of religious choice and cultural diversity are essential values for the McGill community.
  • As part of my update on government relations, I reported on a meeting in Quebec City between Pierre Duchesne, Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, and university rectors, students and employees. Minister Duchesne affirmed the government’s commitment to reinvesting in universities, beginning in 2014-2015.
  • McGill gained five spots in the Academic Ranking of World Universities (also known as the Shanghai Rankings) and dropped three spots in the QS World University Rankings. Although these rankings are not scientifically accurate exercises, they help us to detect trends and determine areas for improvement.

I closed my remarks with highlights of some recent accomplishments by members of the community, including the appointment of a Canada Excellence Research Chair in Pain, the Royal Society of Canada honouring eight McGill professors, and the team of five MBA students who won the $1-million Hult Prize for social-entrepreneurship.

Other reports included:

  • Marc Weinstein, Vice-Principal (University Advancement), provided an overview of Campaign McGill, reporting that 62 per cent of the more than one billion dollars raised is earmarked for student support. To date, almost 4,000 students have benefitted from Campaign McGill-supported programs.
  • Dr. Eidelman made a presentation on the Faculty of Medicine, highlighting its strengths as well as challenges, noting that the Faculty continues to do well, despite a tough operating environment.
  • Provost Tony Masi reported on his activities as Acting Principal. Along with the Board, I would like to thank Professor Masi for his service as Acting Principal during the summer.

The Board approved several matters of business, including:

  • A new contract of affiliation between the University and the McGill University Health Centre. The agreement covers, among other points, how the two institutions will share our health care and academic missions, as well as the collective commitment to developing the McGill Academic Health Network. Once the language of this new contract has been finalized, it will go to the MUHC Board of Directors and the provincial government for their approval. The contract will be in effect for five years.
  • The 2012-2013 Financial Report to the Board of Governors, which includes an external auditor’s report and the University’s audited financial statements. These documents will be posted online soon.
  • The appointment of Mr. Ram Panda as its newest member-at-large, effective January 1, 2014. Mr. Panda left India to study at McGill in 1968. After graduation, he chose to put his education to work here in Quebec, co-founding an important software company. It is exciting to have Mr. Panda’s entrepreneurial drive and vision at the Board table.

Over the coming year, I will share key actions and discussions from each of the Board’s remaining meetings. (Their schedule is here.) As well, the full minutes from last week’s open session, plus a summary of items dealt with in closed session, will be available online following approval at the Board’s November 28th meeting. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at suzanne [dot] fortier [at] mcgill [dot] ca. I welcome your thoughts and ideas. 

Sincerely,

Suzanne Fortier
Principal and Vice-Chancellor