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Highlights from May 22 Board of Governors meeting

Dear members of the McGill community:

McGill’s Board of Governors convened on Thursday, May 22, 2014. Here are the highlights of the actions and discussions from this, their final meeting of the 2013-2014 governance year.

The Board approved tenure for 71 candidates, on my recommendation and that of Provost Anthony C. Masi. The tenure process for this cohort of professors and librarians started in June 2013.

During my open session remarks, I focused on three areas:

  • Government relations

On May 1, I joined leaders from the U15 universities for a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The Prime Minister expressed his strong support for universities and research. He stressed that excellence will be the sole driver of the new Canada First Research Excellence Fund, which is the latest example of the federal government’s substantial investment in post-secondary institutions.

On May 9, I joined the heads of Quebec “charter” universities to meet Yves Bolduc, Quebec’s new Minister of Higher Education, Research and Science. The Minister expressed his desire to create a positive and constructive relationship with the universities. He made reference to Quebec’s difficult budgetary situation and shared that it would likely mean a reduction in the FY2015 reinvestment promised by the previous government; we will know final numbers when the new government tables its budget on June 4.

  • Community engagement

Community engagement has been a focus for me since my arrival in September. With Ollivier Dyens, Deputy Provost Student Life and Learning, I have worked closely with students and student leaders on several projects and issues. I have also met several times with staff associations, including the McGill Association of University Teachers (MAUT), McGill University Non-Academic Staff Association (MUNASA) and the McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association (MUNACA), to discuss issues of common interest. On many of these occasions, I was joined by Provost Masi and Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance) Michael Di Grappa. Externally, I have been working closely with Vice-Principals Di Grappa and Olivier Marcil (Communications and External Relations) to discuss with key stakeholders McGill’s vision for the soon-to-be-vacated Royal Victoria Hospital site. I have also participated in many events within the Montreal community, including with the Chambre de commerce du Montréal métropolitain and Montréal International, and visited with alumni in Montreal, Toronto, New York City, Boston and California.

  • Student and faculty achievements

I offered my congratulations to several members of our community. Professors Alan Evans and Nahum Sonenberg received over $3.7 million through the Canada Brain Research Fund. Professors Murray Humphries and Stephen Yue received over $3 million for two new NSERC CREATE awards to provide innovative training environments for undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate students. Teaching and Learning Services and a group of professors finished McGill’s first MOOC, which attracted over 27,000 participants from more than 150 countries. On a final note, I congratulated medical student and Redmen offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif on being drafted by the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs.

Several reports were presented. Items of interest to the broader McGill community include:

  • Pierre Moreau, Executive Director (Planning and Institutional Analysis) and Senior Advisor (Policy Development), presented the 2013-2014 scorecard of Key Performance Indicators. A framework of 22 KPIs helps quantify research performance, governance, philanthropy, the quality of students and faculty, financing and infrastructure. KPIs help McGill track its progress toward realizing strategic priorities.
  • The Board approved the signing of McGill’s renewed licensing agreement with Copibec. Copibec is a not-for-profit organization that acts on behalf of authors and publishers when instructors reproduce copyrighted work in course packs and other learning materials. Provost Masi explained that, in response to concerns about high costs, McGill has negotiated a three-year rate of $15 per full-time student, which is almost 30 per cent lower than our previous rate.
  • Rose Goldstein, Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations), updated the Board on the Quartier de l’innovation’s progress during its first year of existence, as well as next year’s goals and priorities. Dr. Goldstein’s report was similar to the one she presented to Senate last month.
  • Vice-Principal Di Grappa and Martin Krayer von Krauss, Manager, Office of Sustainability, presented McGill’s Vision 2020 Sustainability Strategy. The vision, goals and actions are designed to orient the University’s sustainability efforts across five categories: research, education, governance and administration, connectivity and operations.
  • The Board approved the report of the Nominating, Governance and Ethics Committee concerning appointments to various committees and other internal and external bodies.
  • Michael Boychuk, Chair of the Audit Committee, presented a report dealing with a number of routine matters, such as internal audits, enterprise risk management and the annual report on the McGill University Pension Plan.
  • I reported on items from Senate’s May 14, 2014 meeting, including its approval of recommendations from the Academic Policy Committee to adopt five principles on graduate supervision. On the recommendation of Senate, the Board of Governors approved several motions, including the creation of the McGill Structural Biology Centre, a self-funded research centre.
  • Stephen Strople, Secretary-General, presented the Annual Report of the Policy on Safe Disclosure for 2012-2013. This “whistle-blowing” policy gives members of the McGill community a confidential outlet, safe from retribution, for reporting what they feel to be breaches of honesty, transparency or accountability. One such report was filed during 2012-2013.

Professor Alan Evans gave a presentation on the brain imaging work he is doing at the Ludmer Centre for Neuroinformatics and Mental Health, a multidisciplinary research platform focused on establishing early childhood risk factors.

The meeting concluded with the Board Chair, Stuart H. Cobbett, thanking H. Arnold Steinberg for his five years of exemplary service as Chancellor. Chancellor Steinberg’s appointment ends on June 30. We are looking forward to his continued engagement as Chancellor Emeritus and Board member emeritus.

The minutes from this meeting will be available shortly after the Board reconvenes for 2014-2015 on October 2. The full minutes from the Board’s April 29 open session, plus a summary of the closed session, are now online.

All of this year’s Board of Governors summaries are archived online. Thank you for the positive feedback about these notes; I look forward to sharing meeting highlights with you next year. I wish you a great summer, and hope you will find time to recharge after another busy academic year. And don’t forget that you are always welcome to send your questions, comments and ideas to me at suzanne [dot] fortier [at] mcgill [dot] ca.

Sincerely,

Suzanne Fortier

Principal and Vice-Chancellor