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This year's Maclean's magazine's survey of Canada's public universities puts McGill at number two (up from three) in the category of medical/doctoral schools. Of the 15 universities in this group, University of Toronto is in first position, which it has held since 1994. Guelph University is tops in the comprehensive category, while St. Francis Xavier holds number one in the undergraduate rankings.
The Maclean's rankings are put together by circulating a 17-page questionnaire to the universities; sending out reputation surveys to university officials and high school principals guidance counsellors, CEOs and corporate recruiters; and gathering information on student and faculty awards. This year, Maclean's also measured the number of first-year students who return for second year.
Principal Munroe-Blum believes the survey will be very encouraging to prospective students. McGill has taken students' concerns seriously and responded accordingly, she says, by creating residence space and investing in technological infrastructure and in the libraries. The ranking "reflects real progress and a growing reputation across Canada, and is a welcome signal to people thinking of coming to McGill," she said. "It's a recognition of McGill's tremendous strengths, that we were able to do this while being under-resourced."
"We care about the quality," Munroe-Blum says of McGill's research programs. "It's not just about how many dollars, but about how they do per faculty, in research performance." This has been backed up in another recent study by Research Infosource in which McGill was ranked first in private and public research income per professor in 2002. University of Toronto ($456.3 million) and Université de Montréal ($383.4 million) had higher overall totals, but McGill's $316.6 million broke down into $233,000 per full-time faculty member (U de M is second at $219,700 per faculty, and U of T is sixth at $171,600. Research Inforsource declared McGill as the Canadian Research University of the Year.
Although McGill's library holdings ranked eighth overall in the Maclean's survey, acquisitions bounded up to first from twelfth in 2001. Munroe-Blum said, "I'm impressed with how quickly we jumped. If we stay the course, over the next three to four years we'll be closer to where we should be," she says.
"You can credit the students for making the library a priority. Students set the lead by putting their own money behind it," she said, referring to the contributions of the Library Improvement Fund of the Students' Society of McGill University, which has raised $500,000 annually since 1996. Tangible results of the university's dedication include the new infocommons and new collections.
McGill still lags in the student-to-professor ratio, to which Munroe-Blum says they're working on bettering the balance by continuing to hire over 100 faculty each year. As well, the Maclean's ranking doesn't account for all of the PhD equivalents that McGill has as professors, such as MDs in the Faculty of Medicine, or other professionals who teach in the Faculty of Management or the School of Social Work.
Another important goal of McGill is to guarantee that every student will graduate with one or more professors knowing them well enough to provide counsel, knowledge and letters of reference, Munroe-Blum says.
Overall, Munroe-Blum is pleased with this year's ranking. "Our advance from number four two years ago, to number two today is a result of our team effort," Munroe-Blum said.
"It means the word's getting out there."
For more information see www.researchinfosource.com and www.macleans.ca, or pick up an issue of the November 17 issue of Maclean's.