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In delivering the inaugural Dorothy Killam Memorial Lecture last year, Principal Heather Munroe-Blum said McGill has the capacity "to be one of the top 10 research-intensive public universities in the world." That's a tall order encompassing research and academic excellence, world-class professors and researchers, innovative programs, as well as adequate funding. Helping design the road map to achieve this vision is Janyne Hodder, the university's first vice-principal of inter-institutional relations. Hodder, who served as principal of Bishop's University in Lennoxville for nine years, joined McGill last November. Her role is to develop and implement strategies that generate support, partners and funding for McGill's short- and long-term goals.
Q: This is a new position at McGill. What does the job entail and what are the priorities?
A: It involves sharing McGill's prime priorities with governments, institutions and other partners, building understanding and generating support for the university's goals. In the short term that means addressing urgent issues like the acceleration of full funding (to a level equal to the Canadian average) by the province, re-regulation of international undergraduate student tuition and support from the government for the second Life Sciences pavilion. In the longer term, it means making McGill present in the shaping of public policy, whether it be through funding frameworks or government policies that address excellence, performance accountability, economic and social benefits, or through the mission of a research-intensive university like McGill. It also means being open-minded and receptive to opportunities with a wide range of public and private partners, and building on our fundamental message that what's good for McGill is good for Quebec - and vice versa.
Q: How will you accomplish all this?
A: First, by working with my colleagues within the university. Whether it's about seeking funding from the government or influencing research policy or the development of Macdonald Campus, we can't go at this on a piecemeal basis, asking for many things from many people at once. My office must work together with other departments to formulate positions that are consistent and clear and that will get the best results from external partners. To do this, we are maintaining close communication with elected and non-elected government officials in Quebec City. We are also maintaining our ties with elected officials in Montreal and developing stronger links with administrative officials in Montreal, its boroughs and the future demerged cities. Then there are our growing links with other universities in the province - for example, our agreement with Université du Québec à Montréal, Université de Sherbrooke, Université de Montréal and Université Laval to create a multidisciplinary centre to study climate change and the global environment. In each case, our partnerships are ongoing, two-way and mutually beneficial. We don't just approach people to ask for money or complain or tell them how great McGill is. Instead we describe our vision for McGill, where we want to go, why and why it's good for Montreal, for Quebec and for Canada.
Q: Is it working?
A: I believe it is. It's a new way of doing business, but it's also a very positive way of doing business and, to date, the response has been encouraging. A good example would be the principal's ongoing work with Montreal International. Montreal International is an association of private sector enterprises, the 63 municipalities of the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal, the city of Montreal and the governments of Quebec and Canada. McGill has been proactive in building commitment from these partners and positioning universities as a source of highly skilled manpower and an integral part of the overall economic development for the city. So, in a sense, we've got a city economic development plan that is inspired by its recognition of the role universities play. That's really good news for McGill in terms of future development, transit, financing and infrastructure decisions. We have to be able to do the same thing at many different levels.
Q: What's your message to the McGill community?
A: I'd like to invite people at McGill to get involved and feel free to contact me if they want to talk about government policy or other issues. I welcome all ideas and help because, in one way or another, we all have an impact on inter-institutional relations and we all have a stake in the future of McGill.