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On March 10, 2:30 pm, there will be a formal ceremony for the installation of McGill's 16th principal, who is also the university's 12th vice-chancellor, at Redpath Hall. Usually the installation is folded into a convocation event, but because Principal Heather Munroe-Blum took up office in January, the middle of the school year, the ceremony will stand on its own.
Nonetheless, a small convocation of sorts will be held at the installation. Eight honorary degree recipients, each affiliated with top universities, will be flying in from all five continents. The ceremony will focus on McGill's international scope and academic ties throughout the globe's scholarly communities.
Among the organizers are various marshals who to try to keep everything on time, vice-marshal and engineering professor Jim Finch says. As excited as he is about the rare event, "one doesn't know what to anticipate," he says, "it's a very tight schedule." His duties range from leading the academic procession down the aisle to putting the McGill Charter in place so that Munroe-Blum can rest her hand on it while she's sworn in.
Finch has been the go-between for Instructional Communications Centre and the planning committee to arrange for the broadcasts. Although space in Redpath Hall is limited, the event will be broadcast live to Moyse Hall, Arts Building; Macdonald campus's Raymond Building, Room R3-045; as well as on the McGill website, www.mcgill.ca/installation2003/events/, where it will be replayed the next day. Also, follow the link from the website to see the university archives' virtual history on installation ceremonies.
The whole shebang is a "celebration of the university," says Martha Crago, associate vice-principal (teaching programs).
Crago's in charge of a symposium on the morning of March 10 on the role of higher education and international research, modeled after an academic round table. Each honorary degree recipient will present their views then participate in a question and answer period. "Someone thought we're going to have all of the interesting people on campus, wouldn't it be a good idea to hear them speak." Crago says, adding "it's a good time for us to share these people and their ideas." McGill Chancellor Richard Pound and Quebec Education Minister Sylvain Simard will start off the symposium.
The symposium topic, Global Reach, Local Impact: the public research university in the 21st century suits the international interests of our new principal. People from around the world come to McGill, and the university has an impact on local society, starting with campus life, moving through the city, our province, the country, and the world. "The university brings people in and reaches out," adds Crago.
Crago says the symposium "shows a moment in the university's evolution. This is an academic convergence, a chance to air some ideas and maybe light up ideas for the future and open doors for possibilities."
The symposium will take place in Moyse Hall, "a wonderfully historic site." They'll have to vie for space with the set of Ruddigore, which takes up the back half of the stage. "We have to work around the constraints of a living university," Crago laughs.
The symposium is open to the McGill community, but many of the 350 seats are already spoken for. Be sure to show up early to increase your chances of getting in. There will be plenty of coffee and croissants while you wait. If you miss it, you can catch it on the website the next morning, along with the rebroadcast of the installation.
Although organizing the event has been a bit like an episode of Upstairs, Downstairs, Crago says, it's been a good group of people working together, making useful suggestions to each other. The detail work for an event of this size is ponderous, but has been "handled beautifully," Crago says. From flowers to lunch catering, the choice of music to providing robes for McGill staff and governors, there have been plenty of details to knit one's brow over, from mike placement, coat racks, and maps to entertaining visitors. Each honorary degree recipient has been "twinned" with a McGill host who will meet them at the airport, and show them around town. Crago has been paired with Memphela Ramphele, and is busy reading her autobiography.
Look for the Governor-General's flag to be flown above the Arts Building, required for whenever the Honourable Adrienne Clarkson's on campus. She's a big fan of countertenor Daniel Taylor, a McGill graduate, who will be singing at the event. Music professor Gordon Foote, chair of the department of performance, says that other sonorous treats include university organist John Grew who will be behind the pipes and a bagpiper to lead the guests up McTavish before the ceremony and another to pipe them to the McCord Museum afterwards for a reception. Composition professor John Rea has composed a fanfare for the occasion, "A Flourish Galliard," to be performed by the McGill Baroque Orchestra and the Brass Quintet.
Tuesday, March 11, Munroe-Blum will be greeting the community from 4:00-6:00 in the lobby of the Arts Building. All McGill is invited to meet the freshly sworn-in principal, and partake of nibblies and beverages. Installation souvenirs will be handed out, too.