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The so-called provostial model, which designates the provost as second-in-command to the principal, is a widely tested administrative structure that seems to work well at McGill, Principal and Vice-Chancellor Heather Munroe-Blum told the Feb. 14 meeting of Senate.
Responding to a request from Senator Ralph Harris to provide a detailed description of the University's chosen system of administration and governance, Principal Munroe-Blum explained that Anthony Masi is McGill's provost and chief academic officer. Among many other duties, he is responsible for determining the University's academic priorities, overseeing faculty budgets and assuming the role of acting principal in Munroe-Blum's absence.
In turn, the reporting line to the provost's office includes deputy and associate provosts, deans and about a dozen committees and subcommittees.
"It sounds like the provost is involved in everything," said student Senator Aaron Donny-Clark, to which Munroe-Blum responded that McGill's executive team works closely together, with most vice-principals having some involvement in each other's portfolios and the provost playing a supporting role on committees and in other areas where he doesn't have direct responsibility.
While conceding that the organizational chart of the provost's office is "extraordinarily complex," Munroe-Blum noted the provost's web page contains information on the office's roles, responsibilities and reporting structure.
Secretary-General Johanne Pelletier noted an updated version of the organizational chart will also soon be available in the About McGill section of the University website, www.mcgill.ca/about/.
Whether referred to as a "full provostial model" or not, this administrative model has been adopted by eight of Canada's 13 leading research-intensive universities, including the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia, Munroe-Blum said. A similar system is in place at about half the 62 institutions that belong to the Association of American Universities, she said.