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Planning this year’s Founder’s Day at Macdonald Campus raised the question: what does one do for an encore following the centenary festivities of 2007 that highlighted 100 years of Mac leadership, vision and the extraordinary contribution Mac researchers have made to improving the planet? The answer was simple enough: more of the same. “Of course, we use this day to celebrate our past,” said Chandra Madramootoo, Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “But we do so with our eyes set firmly on the future.”
Macdonald Campus is where McGill gets dirt under its fingernails. The 650-hectare expanse of forest and farmland is the University’s living classroom, the ultimate green laboratory in which tomorrow’s environmental and agricultural research leaders hone their skills today.
The seeds of Mac’s verdant history were planted in 1906, when Sir William Christopher Macdonald bequeathed 300 acres of farmland and a $2-million endowment to McGill. Sir William’s goal, though revolutionary at the time, was simple: to create a farm laboratory in which the science of farming could be tried, tested and taught in order to “improve the lives of rural people in Quebec.”
Little did Sir William know, but 101 years after the college first opened its doors to just over 200 students, its reach would extend well beyond provincial and national borders.
Today, Mac researchers and students can be found around the globe, from the Arctic and Barbados to Africa and Panama. Whether they are working to improve the survival rate of children and mothers in Ghana or to reduce post-harvest crop loss in rural India, lessons first learned at Mac are making the world a better place.