Founder's Day Celebrations

Photos are available on our Flickr page.

MODERATOR: Professor Valérie Gravel, Department of Plant Science

Valérie Gravel obtained her MSc and PhD in Plant Science in 2007 from Université Laval (Québec, QC) following undergraduate studies in Agronomy at the same institution. Between 2007 and 2012, she completed postdoctoral research at Agriculture and AgriFood Canada (St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC) and at Wageningen University (The Netherlands). In 2012, she became an assistant professor at the Nova Scotia Agriculture College (Truro, NS) in collaboration with the Organic Agriculture Center of Canada (OACC). She joined McGill University in 2013 as an assistant professor in the Department of Plant Science. She currently serves as vice-president of the Canadian Society for Horticultural Science (CSHS) and as a board member of the Quebec Society for Plant Protection (QSPP) as well as Plant Canada. She is also a member of Ordre des Agronomes du Québec.


DAVID MEGER, Assistant Professor, McGill University, School of Computer Science & Centre for Intelligent Machines

David has been with McGill University’s School of Computer Science for 4 years, and is a member of the inter-departmental inter-faculty Centre for Intelligent Machines (CIM). He completed his B.Sc. at University of British Colombia (2004), his M.Sc. at McGill (2006) and his Ph.D. at UBC in 2013. His doctoral thesis was titled Visual Object Recognition for Mobile Platforms. His research is focused on integrating computer vision and machine learning for the development of autonomous machines.


ABHISHEK GUPTA, Founder, Montreal AI Ethics Institute

Abhishek Gupta is the founder of Montreal AI Ethics Institute. His research focuses on applied technical and policy methods to address ethical, safety and inclusivity concerns in using AI in different domains. Abhishek comes from a strong technical background, working as a Software Engineer, Machine Learning at Microsoft in Montreal.
He is also the founder of the AI Ethics community in Montreal that has more than 1400 members from diverse backgrounds who do a deep dive into AI ethics and offer public consultations to initiatives like the Montreal Declaration for Responsible AI. His work has been featured by the United Nations, Oxford, Stanford Social Innovation Review, World Economic Forum and he travels frequently across North America and Europe to help governments, industry and academia understand AI and how they can incorporate ethical, safe and inclusive development processes within their work. More information can be found on


Founder’s Day is our annual celebration of the life and generosity of our benefactor, Sir William Christopher Macdonald. Sir William was a great industrialist and one of our country’s leading philanthropists. His greatest cause was education and his generosity toward McGill was boundless. He was one of McGill University's greatest benefactors, the fourth Chancellor of the University (1914-1917) and was dedicated to improving the quality of life in Quebec’s rural communities and training rural leaders to meet the future needs of a nation.

In 1907 Sir William founded Macdonald College as the School of Agriculture, the School of Household Science and the School for Teachers. Significant changes have taken place since the College’s founding and the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences has developed into a world leader addressing global needs in the fields of food, nutrition and health, agriculture, biodiversity, applied biosciences, climate change and the environment.

The event is held on the Thursday closest to the anniversary of his birth - February 10, 1831. Founder’s Day festivities are an occasion to celebrate our history, our strengths and our promise for the future. The day’s activities are framed around the College’s Motto, Mastery for Service. Historical records describe Mastery for Service as “First, the complete Mastery of the Self for Service, as, the Mastery of the Mental processes; the Mastery of the Powers of the body, the Mastery of the Passions; the Mastery of the emotions—and second, the Mastery of the world for Service, as the service in any sphere in which one finds life."