The Max Bell School is proud to announce the graduation of McGill University’s first class of Master of Public Policy (MPP) students.
The Class of 2020 faced many challenges over the past year. Their courses were intensive and demanding — even more so in the midst of a global pandemic. However, this cohort was able to meet these circumstances head-on, adjust to the virtual classroom, and complete their degree in a show of resilience.
To celebrate their exceptional work, members of the Max Bell faculty and advisory board spoke at a virtual graduation ceremony to offer congratulations and words of advice.
In her address to the Class of 2020, McGill University Principal and Vice-Chancellor Suzanne Fortier said: “Everyone knows you’ve done something extraordinary. Apart from being the first graduating cohort, you’ve also done it in one of the most difficult situations that we’ve faced in a long time. You will be regarded as the individuals who were able to rise to the occasion.”
Joining the ceremony from Beijing was Dominic Barton, Canadian ambassador to China and former Max Bell School Advisory Board member. He spoke to the graduates about cultivating drive and initiative beyond the classroom, calling upon the cohort to “go to where the gunfire is loudest.”
In her address to the graduating class, Christy Clark, current Chair of the Max Bell School Advisory Board and former Premier of British Columbia, spoke of the growing need for confident policy leadership. “Policy makers have the ability to make a real difference,” she said, emphasizing that “change will only happen if people like you make it.”
This year has reinforced the pressing importance of policy research, and the role it plays in addressing the many issues that impact the lives of ordinary people.
“Reality is truly stranger than fiction,” said Chantal Hébert, prominent political journalist and course lecturer at the School. In order to manage the ever-shifting political, fiscal, and social landscapes, Hébert advised graduates to remember that “it’s important to think out of the box, but it’s also important to know what the box is made of”.
Chris Ragan, Director of the Max Bell School, encouraged the graduates to use the knowledge they gained from their degrees in a meaningful way. “Public policy is far more than merely an intellectual exercise. It is so important because, and only because, of the impact it has on ordinary people. Please don’t ever lose sight of that fact.”
Chosen from a pool of close to 200 applicants, the 2020 class was made up of students diverse in both origins and professional experience. From meeting politicians to civil servants, from policy lab work to academic conferences, the students had a productive and dynamic year in and out of the classroom.
The Max Bell School wishes the best for its inaugural cohort as they build their careers and navigate the world of public policy. The future holds much promise for our 2020 MPP graduates.