Transfer of International Relations Division to Provost's Office Purview

Published: 6 May 2016

On April 21, 2016, Principal Suzanne Fortier announced that the International Relations division of the Office of the Vice-Principal of Research and International Relations will be transitioning to the purview of the Office of the Provost. The following is an excerpt of the memo that Principal Fortier addressed to the McGill University Senate. 

"Building on nearly two centuries of tradition and strengths, one of McGill's great assets is its international character and culture, which rests on four pillars: its international student community, professors and scholars, research partnerships, and alumni. However, there is a sense in the institution that McGill could do better in taking advantage of its strengths and reputation by expressing more clearly its international vision and strategy, as many of our peer universities have done. 

While it is recongized that international character and activities extend across the University, there is a sense that responsibilities are overly fragmented and not always situated at the appropriate location. Particularly important is to achieve increased clarity regarding which responsibilities should rest at the central level and which more naturally rest at the unit, local level. 

I have, therefore, asked the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic), whose mandate includes overseeing the overall academic strategy of our University, to assume the responsibility of bringing together international institutional strategy and activities under his portfolio in order to leverage the values and strengths that contribute to our distinct identity. These activities include: 

  • Continuing to expand opportunities for students to situate their knowledge and understand their lives in a global context through ensuring that the curriculum reflects a global perspective and through student mobility and exchanges; 
  • Attracting and retaining international faculty; 
  • Developing international teaching and strategic research collaborations stemming from the extensive interests of professors and students across all our Faculties; 
  • Identifying and maintaining partnerships with international institutions and foreign governments; 
  • Strengthening our efforts to expand our reach and sustain collaborations through digital connections; 
  • Overseeing international revenue-generating opportunities that expand our reach; 
  • Coordinating and supporting selected outgoing missions and incoming visits. 

Over the next months, the Provost and Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations) will work together to ensure an orderly transition of those activities that currently fall within the Research and International Relations portfolio. The Provost will communicate his plans, including an organisational structure, to the community in the fall. I have also asked the Provost to consider and report back on a number of questions that came out of the consultations, including: 

  • How can we build on McGill's existing strengths? 
  • What strategies can help us benefit from our position? 
  • In framing the University's International strategy, to what extent should the plan take 
    • a priority country or regional approach?
    • an academic or research thematic approach?
  • How can the McGill worldwide alumni community be engaged in facilitating the university's international agenda and outreach?

As many of you are aware, the Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations), has been actively engaged in developing and encouraging the University's innovation agenda, including a soon-to-be concluded search for a new Associate Vice-Principal (Partnerships and Innovation). Given this focus as well as the decision to group international activities within the scope of the Provost's responsibility, it is timely and appropriate to rename the research portfolio to Vice-Principal (Research and Innovation). 

I am grateful to both Professor Manfredi and Dr. Goldstein for their willingness to take on these responsibilities. I am confident that these changes align with our continuing efforts to advance the University's priorities, and that carrying them out will have a positive impact on McGill's future. 



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