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McGill embraces sustainable procurement

Mon, 2015-05-04 17:12

Sustainable Procurement Core Team members at Macdonald Campus during their Strategic Planning session.

From chemicals, to tractors to computers, McGill purchases hundreds of millions of dollars of goods and services every year. Most of those purchases flow through McGill’s Procurement Services unit. When McGill adopted its first Procurement Policy in spring 2013, it gave Procurement Services the mandate to establish a culture of sustainable procurement practices at McGill and in its wider community.

“Our purchases generate multiple social and environmental impacts over their life cycle — this needs to be considered in our purchasing decision-making process,” says Kathy Zendehbad, Associate Director, Procurement Services.

Zendehbad, assisted by the McGill Office of Sustainability, gathered a cross-functional working group with representatives from University Services, IT Services, Facilities, Student Housing and Hospitality Services, and a team of Procurement Services buyers, as well as faculty members and students. With the goal of developing a holistic and structured approach to sustainable procurement, the group held multiple working sessions where they identified University-wide objectives for sustainable procurement, key actions and expected outputs, and projects that would deliver tangible results. The result is McGill’s Sustainable Procurement Strategic Plan, adopted in fall 2013. Key projects for the first two years include:

  • Training procurement services buyers to incorporate life-cycle thinking and triple bottom line principles (social, environmental and economic considerations) into their day-to-day activities;
  • Involvement of faculty and students in applied research pertaining to sustainable procurement in an institutional context;
  • Development of an IT Asset Management Regulation, to bring the management of the University’s IT assets in step with governmental laws and regulations, and optimized material flows, following McGill’s 4R hierarchy (Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle);
  • Incorporation of sustainability criteria into the University’s calls for tenders for goods and services.

The implementation of McGill’s Sustainable Procurement Strategic Plan has been identified as a Priority Action under McGill’s Vision 2020 Sustainability Strategy. However, additional resources and expertise were needed, which is where McGill’s Sustainability Projects Fund (SPF) comes in.

“The SPF allowed us to hire a temporary Project Manager, Stéphanie Leclerc, to implement the strategy, train our staff, and work with faculty and students on applied student research projects,” explains Zendehbad.  “We knew that this was going to be a major undertaking for Procurement Services and that help of a professional and a subject matter expert would be instrumental to move forward efficiently.”

Leclerc started her work by setting up courses specifically designed for McGill’s procurement staff. With the staff’s initial training now completed, Leclerc supports the team by providing advice on building the sustainability criteria into a wide variety of calls for tenders. To date, the calls for tenders for computers, cleaning products, card payment solutions, furniture, office supplies, and travel services have been updated to reflect McGill’s sustainability requirements.

For example, as part of negotiations for the contracting of the University’s vending machine concession, Leclerc proposed specific criteria for:

  • The energy efficiency and other life cycle specifications for the vending machines to be used (ex.: Energy Star, and, if possible, refurbished)
  • The food content of the machine (ex.: local, healthy, Fair Trade choices)
  • The way the deliveries would be ensured (ex.: deliveries ensured by electric vehicle)

“McGill’s supply chains and their related social or environmental impacts vary widely across product categories” explains Leclerc. “Sometimes, I feel we can have an important impact in terms of sending signals to the market, or expressing our expectations to particular industry associations.”  In some instances, she mentions, it can be challenging to identify more sustainable options, so she also looks into the suppliers’ sustainability profiles and reputations.  “Fortunately,” says Leclerc, “we can learn and improve on each contract and call for tenders, as we identify best practices, create awareness and collaborate with our internal and external partners for building more sustainable supply chains.”



Elizabeth Wirth – a special friend of McGill and Music

Thu, 2015-04-30 18:27

Elizabeth Wirth (at left) makes her gift official at a signing ceremony with Principal and Vice-Chancellor Suzanne Fortier and Sean Ferguson, Dean of the Schulich School of Music. / Photo: Owen Egan

University names New Music Building in her honour

By Linda Sutherland

Music has been a longtime passion of McGill alumna Elizabeth Wirth, BA’64. Inspired by her two Viennese grandmothers, she became an opera fan at a young age. During her teenage years, when the songs of Elvis Presley were all the rage, Wirth was captivated by the arias of Maria Callas. A self-described “opera groupie”, she subscribed to the Metropolitan Opera News and regularly attended opera performances.

Although Wirth went on to pursue a successful career in business – and today is President and CEO of Wirth-Brand Inc. and Wirth Trading Inc. – her enthusiasm for music continued to flourish. For well over a decade, she has been actively involved with the Schulich School of Music of McGill University, providing both financial support and serving as an enthusiastic volunteer and advocate for the School, most notably as a valued member, and now Chair, of the Faculty Advisory Board.

Underlying Wirth’s commitment to the School is her keen interest in its students. “The most wonderful thing about Elizabeth Wirth is that she is not a faceless donor,” said Micheala Dickey, MMus’13, ADip’15. “She regularly attends performances at the School and has a genuine interest in the work we are doing. And she is always keen on hearing about our future plans. McGill and the Schulich School are so fortunate to have such a special friend.”

As a philanthropist, Wirth has generously supported and championed an array of initiatives, including scholarships and fellowships, and the Schulich School’s renowned opera program, which benefits from the exceptional rehearsal and performance environment of the Wirth Opera Studio, renovated several years ago thanks to a gift from Wirth and her late father, Manfred.

In 2013, she spearheaded a highly-successful $1.3-million fundraising campaign to transform the facilities adjacent to the School’s state-of-the-art Music Multimedia Room, allowing students to produce outstanding recordings and conduct cutting-edge research into sound. She has since matched contributions to the project from more than 50 donors.

And now comes news of Wirth’s latest, and largest, gift to the School: a $7.5 million donation – one of the most generous gifts to culture and music in Quebec, and one of the largest gifts ever to McGill from a female donor. The gift was announced at a special event celebrating philanthropy and featuring some of the School’s talented students and young alumni.

Wirth’s landmark donation will fund three new initiatives. The first, a suite of student excellence awards, will strengthen the School’s ability to attract and retain top talent. A new student initiatives fund will support internships, travel and other activities that benefit students. And finally, a prize in vocal performance will be awarded annually to a voice student who demonstrates exceptional skill. The first of these awards will be presented during the 2015-16 academic year.

In recognition of her outstanding support, through this and previous gifts, McGill is naming the New Music Building on Sherbrooke St. the Elizabeth Wirth Music Building / le Pavillon de musique Elizabeth Wirth.

“I am grateful to Elizabeth Wirth for her years of impassioned and generous support of the Schulich School of Music,” said McGill Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Suzanne Fortier. “These extraordinary gifts reflect her profound dedication to McGill and to its talented students.”

This significant donation comes at an exciting moment for McGill as it prepares to launch a series of events to mark the 10th anniversary of the re-birth of its Faculty of Music as the Schulich School of Music.

“It is thanks to the unwavering support of generous donors, including Elizabeth Wirth, that the Schulich School has achieved new levels of excellence over the past decade, offering our students top-notch music training and research programs, along with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities,” said Sean Ferguson, Dean of the Schulich School of Music.

Lire l’article en français.



Elizabeth Wirth – amie fidèle de McGill et de la musique

Thu, 2015-04-30 18:27

Elizabeth Wirth (à gauche) a officialisé son don lors d’une cérémonie de signature en compagnie de Suzanne Fortier, principale et vice-chancelière, et de Sean Ferguson, doyen de l’École de musique Schulich. / Photo : Owen Egan

L’Université McGill nommera le nouveau pavillon de musique en son honneur

Par Linda Sutherland

La musique est depuis longtemps une passion pour la diplômée mcgilloise Elizabeth Wirth (B.A. 1964). Inspirée par ses deux grand-mères viennoises, elle s’est passionnée très jeune pour l’opéra. Pendant son adolescence, alors que les chansons d’Elvis Presley faisaient fureur, Mme Wirth était captivée par les arias de Maria Callas. Se qualifiant elle-même de « groupie d’opéra », elle était abonnée au Metropolitan Opera News et assistait régulièrement à des représentations et concerts.

Bien qu’elle ait embrassé une carrière dans le domaine des affaires ‒ elle est aujourd’hui présidente et chef de la direction de Wirth-Brand et de Wirth Trading ‒ son amour de la musique n’a cessé de grandir. Depuis plus d’une décennie, elle appuie l’École de musique Schulich de l’Université McGill et compte parmi ses bénévoles les plus actifs, offrant non seulement son soutien financier, mais œuvrant sans relâche en faveur de l’École à titre de membre, puis de présidente du Comité consultatif facultaire.

L’engagement de Mme Wirth envers l’École repose sur le vif intérêt qu’elle porte à ses étudiants. « Ce qui est le plus remarquable au sujet d’Elizabeth Wirth, c’est qu’elle n’est pas une donatrice sans visage », affirme Micheala Dickey, M. Mus. 2013, A.Dip. 2015. « Elle assiste régulièrement à des concerts et représentations de l’École et montre un véritable intérêt envers notre travail. Et se montre toujours intéressée à connaître nos projets d’avenir. L’Université McGill et l’École de musique Schulich sont extrêmement privilégiées d’avoir une amie aussi fidèle et dévouée. »

À titre de philanthrope, Elizabeth Wirth a soutenu de nombreuses initiatives, notamment des bourses d’études et de recherche, ainsi que le programme d’opéra réputé de l’École de musique Schulich, qui profite de l’environnement de répétition et d’interprétation exceptionnel du studio d’opéra Wirth, rénové il y a plusieurs années grâce à un don de Mme Wirth et de feu son père, Manfred.

En 2013, Mme Wirth a dirigé une campagne de financement de 1,3 million de dollars qui a connu un immense succès et qui visait à transformer les installations adjacentes à la salle multimédia à la fine pointe de la technologie de l’École, ce qui a permis aux étudiants de produire des enregistrements remarquables et de mener des travaux de recherche de pointe en acoustique. Depuis, elle a offert une contribution dont le montant est équivalent à celui des dons versés par plus de 50 donateurs.

Elizabeth Wirth vient maintenant de faire un don exceptionnel de 7,5 millions de dollars, soit l’une des plus importantes contributions financières à la culture et à la musique au Québec, et l’un des plus importants dons offerts à McGill par une femme. L’annonce de ce don a été faite lors d’un événement spécial célébrant la philanthropie et auquel participaient certains des étudiants et jeunes diplômés les plus talentueux de l’École.

Le don exceptionnel de Mme Wirth permettra de soutenir trois nouvelles initiatives. Il servira d’abord à financer une série de prix d’excellence destinés aux étudiants, qui renforcera la capacité de l’École à attirer et à fidéliser les étudiants les plus talentueux. De plus, un nouveau fonds d’initiatives étudiantes permettra à l’École d’appuyer financièrement des stages, des voyages et des projets étudiants qui enrichissent l’expérience universitaire. Enfin, ce don servira à créer un prix d’interprétation vocale, qui sera octroyé annuellement à un étudiant en chant faisant preuve d’une compétence et d’un sens artistique exceptionnels. Ce prix sera remis pour la première fois au cours de l’année universitaire 2015-2016.

En reconnaissance de la générosité exceptionnelle de Mme Wirth, qui s’est traduite par ce dernier don et ceux qui l’ont précédé, l’Université McGill nommera son nouveau pavillon de musique de la rue Sherbrooke le « Pavillon de musique Elizabeth Wirth ».

« Je suis reconnaissante envers Elizabeth Wirth pour son soutien constant et généreux à l’endroit de l’École de musique Schulich pendant toutes ces années. Ces dons extraordinaires témoignent de son profond engagement envers l’Université McGill et ses étudiants extrêmement talentueux », a déclaré la principale et vice-chancelière, Suzanne Fortier.

Ce don important survient à un moment stimulant pour McGill qui se prépare à lancer une série d’événements qui marqueront le 10e anniversaire de la renaissance de sa Faculté de musique en tant qu’École de musique Schulich.

« C’est grâce au soutien indéfectible de généreux donateurs comme Elizabeth Wirth que l’École de musique Schulich a atteint de nouveaux sommets d’excellence au cours de la dernière décennie, et qu’elle peut offrir des programmes de recherche et de formation musicales de la plus haute qualité qui soit, ainsi que du matériel et des installations à la fine pointe de la technologie », a déclaré Sean Ferguson, doyen de l’École de musique Schulich.

 Read the English article.

In conversation with Meg Hewings, GM of The Montreal Stars women’s hockey team

Thu, 2015-04-30 17:12

Meg Hewings

What role do sports play in the expression of Canadian cultural identities?  In sports, we celebrate inclusion and common purpose, but the history of sports has been marked, much of the time, by prejudice and exclusion.  From lacrosse through women’s hockey, Canadian sports have expressed collective resistance, protected endangered community traditions and been key sites of conflict over the character of Canadian society.

On Tuesday, May 5, the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada (MISC), holds a half-day symposium, Sport and Identity, to examine the complex role of sports in Canada.

Meg Hewings will be one of the event’s speakers. Hewings is the General Manager of The Montreal Stars, with the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. Winks began her hockey career at age 11 as a Leaside Angel. A McGill grad, Hewings later played varsity hockey for the McGill Martlets (#13), and one season in the women’s semi-pro circuit with the Montreal Wingstar. In addition to her work as GM of the Montreal Stars, she is the founder of The Lovely Hockey League.

Hewings took some time to share her views on women in hockey and other topics with the Reporter.

Long before you were General Manager of the Montreal Stars, you played hockey here at McGill for the Martlets. How did your time playing sports at the varsity level prepare you for what you do now?

I played varsity hockey for the McGill Martlets during an incredible growth period in the program. When I started, we sold chocolate almonds in order to fundraise for our operation’s needs, had a tiny locker-room on the opposite side from the Redmen and were lucky to get a team t-shirt. Mid-way through my varsity career, Peter Smith became the Head Coach of the program and Kim St-Pierre joined our roster. We went from losing games 14-0 to making the CIS championships in my graduating year and witnessing the renovation of the McConnell arena to better accommodate the women’s program. I was lucky to be a part of this incredible transition and to see the program flourish. As a gender studies graduate, I also developed critical faculties, was learning about the rich history of the women’s game in Quebec, and at McGill, and starting to wonder why women’s hockey lacked resources, visibility and funding. I questioned why my artist friends didn’t care about sport, and began to see hockey not only as great place to learn about myself and others, but also as a site of radical potential.

The Montreal Stars are very supportive of amateur girl’s hockey. What is your message for young girls who want to become involved in the sport, and do you think the day will ever come when women’s hockey gets as much attention as men’s does?

Most of the new growth in hockey is happening because young girls are taking up the sport in unprecedented numbers, and they love it. The Stars now offer camps, clinics and consulting services to minor hockey associations and our programs champion fun, skills development, teamwork and empowering our youth. We want young girls to grow up to be strong, confident and believe they can do anything. Every athlete in our club is an incredible ambassador for our game, most of them have been captains of their university teams and hold a degree (or two). They are juggling full-time jobs like men did in the early days of the NHL, and we are working together to build a professional league of our own. Our goal is for young girls growing up today to believe they can have a future, and a career, in hockey.

You’ve also written your own blog, “Hockey Dyke in Canada.” The Canadian Olympic Committee recently held an international roundtable to address LGBT issues in sport, and more and more athletes are coming out as members of the LGBT community. What do you think of the current status of the LGBT community in Canadian sports, and what, if anything, do you think needs to change?

The CWHL is a pioneering league in many respects, having been the first professional hockey league to partner with You Can Play, and to have a policy that welcomes Transgender athletes. I think that female athletes have an important role to play in changing and challenging the values of men’s professional sport, and in making hockey more inclusive, accessible and respectful. I’ve been incredibly impressed with the confidence and leadership shown by our Montreal Stars’ goaltender Charline Labonte, who came out publicly as a lesbian after Sochi, and was voted by over 75,000 fans to Captain the Red Team at our inaugural CWHL All-Star game at the Air Canada Centre this season. She’s hitting her stride as an athlete, and person, and is representing our sport with charisma and poise. This is exactly what you want to see happen for athletes and ambassadors in your sport. As for what still needs changing? I’d like to see athletes and fans become more politicized and critical of the Olympic movement, for example, and for mainstream audiences and more corporate entities to start supporting women’s team pro sports. 

The presentation you’ll give at the MISC Sport & Identity event is titled, “Women in hockey: A question of belonging.” Give our readers a preview of what you’ll be discussing.

I’ll be asking a lot of questions about hockey as “our game,” and women’s place in the sport. I’m fascinated by who gets to belong in hockey, and on what terms. Women have played hockey since the sport’s very beginning, largely in the shadows. The female game has grown exponentially since becoming an Olympic sport in 1998, and despite the growth, it remains fragile in many respects, constantly undergoing growing pains and threats to its legitimacy. Like all sport, it’s intimately tied to the morals of the day. I’m interested in all these contradictions at play when women do hockey.

 The recent partnership signed between the Canadiens and the Montreal Stars is big news for the development of women’s hockey in Quebec. How did you go about securing this partnership and what will it mean for the club, and the growth of the female game in Quebec?

We’ve been working with the Canadiens for the past few years to develop this agreement. The Montreal Canadiens are one of the most respected professional sport franchises in the world, and we’re extremely excited by the possibilities this partnership presents. We’ll be undergoing a re-branding of the Montreal club this summer to align more closely with the Canadiens, and access to their marketing team. The Canadiens are very committed to growing the female game at all levels, and this presents some interesting possibilities for how we can promote the sport generally. From a spectator perspective, we know that the audience for the women’s game is different than the NHL – and has gone largely untapped, since women’s hockey is more affordable and appeals to girls and women, and families. From a participation perspective, only 6,000 girls participate in girl’s hockey in Quebec, next to 40,000 in Ontario, so there’s also a lot of work to do to nurture the growth of the game in this province. The partnership with the Montreal Canadiens will help our club gain visibility, recognition and to leverage important sponsorship dollars, all critical factors in building a pro league, and developing a program of excellence for our elite athletes.

Sport & Identity will take place at the McGill Faculty Club (3450 McTavish), on Tuesday, May 5, from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. For a complete list of speakers and to view the programme, visit www.mcgill.ca/misc. 

The event is free and open to the public, reception to follow. RSVP required: misc.iecm@mcgill.ca

Board of Governors approves appointments of two new Deans

Wed, 2015-04-29 13:14

Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou, (left), has been appointed as the new Dean of the Desautels Faculty of Management, and Anja Geitmann will be the new Dean of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Associate Vice-Principal (Macdonald Campus).

By McGill Reporter Staff

The Board of Governors approved the appointment of two new Deans at its Tuesday meeting, continuing a process of renewal in the senior administration. Both are women and both have international academic backgrounds.

Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou, a Professor in Finance at George Washington University, will be new Dean of the Desautels Faculty of Management, replacing former Dean Peter Todd, who left the University a year ago. She will begin her term in January 2016.

Anja Geitmann, a cell biologist by training and a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the Université de Montréal, will take up duties at the beginning of September as Dean of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Associate Vice-Principal (Macdonald Campus). She replaces outgoing Dean and AVP Chandra Madramootoo, who has served at Mac for the past 10 years.

Both new Deans are renowned researchers who have published extensively in major scholarly journals. And both have made interdisciplinarity a key part of their teaching and program development in their respective fields.

Provost Anthony C. Masi, in messages to the McGill community, expressed delight in the new appointees, who were named following the recommendations of search committees who conducted international searches for top candidates.

Bajeux-Besnainou has been serving as Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs at the George Washington University School of Business since April 2012, and chaired the Finance Department during the 2011-12 academic year.

As Associate Dean, Prof. Bajeux-Besnainou launched several new programs and initiatives at GWU, including a new Bachelor of Science degree program with a major in Finance, Masi said in a message to the community. This degree, implemented in Fall 2013, requires a second major outside of the Business School. “She also redesigned the Bachelor of Business Administration curriculum to highlight the liberal arts and require a minor outside of the Business School, effective for all incoming students beginning Fall 2014,” Masi said.

Bajeux-Besnainou also redesigned the First Year Development Program for incoming freshmen with additional emphases on integrity, ethics, civility and social entrepreneurship.

An alumnus of the École normale supérieure of Paris, Prof. Bajeux-Besnainou earned her doctoral degree in 1989 from the Université Paris-IX in Mathematics Applied to Finance. She taught Finance at the École supérieure des sciences économiques et commerciales, in Paris, from 1989 to 1993, at Université de Montréal in the fall of 1993, and has been at George Washington University since 1994.

At UdeM and the Institut de recherche en biologie végétale, Geitmann has brought together mechanical engineers and cell biologists to examine the biomechanical principles that govern plant development and reproduction. These interdisciplinary collaborations have led to the use of both experimental and theoretical mechanical approaches to understanding plant cell biology, Masi’s message said. “Prof. Geitmann is a renowned scholar with an international and interdisciplinary research career that took her from Germany to Italy, the United States and Sweden before she settled in Quebec.”

Geitmann obtained her PhD in 1997 from the University of Siena (Italy), following studies at the University of Konstanz (Germany), Oregon State University, and Stockholm University. After completing her degree, she held postdoctoral fellowships at Université Laval and at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

She is President of the Microscopical Society of Canada and Vice-President of the Canadian Society of Plant Biologists. She has published numerous articles in leading scientific journals and serves on the editorial boards of multiple journals, including Plant Physiology.



Finding the body clock’s molecular reset button

Wed, 2015-04-29 11:43

By Chris Chipello

An international team of scientists has discovered what amounts to a molecular reset button for our internal body clock. Their findings reveal a potential target to treat a range of disorders, from sleep disturbances to other behavioural, cognitive and metabolic abnormalities, commonly associated with jet lag, shift work and exposure to light at night, as well as with neuropsychiatric conditions such as depression and autism.

In a study published online April 27 in Nature Neuroscience, the authors, led by researchers at McGill and Concordia universities in Montreal, report that the body’s clock is reset when a phosphate combines with a key protein in the brain. This process, known as phosphorylation, is triggered by light. In effect, light stimulates the synthesis of specific proteins called Period proteins that play a pivotal role in clock resetting, thereby synchronizing the clock’s rhythm with daily environmental cycles.

Shedding light on circadian rhythms

“This study is the first to reveal a mechanism that explains how light regulates protein synthesis in the brain, and how this affects the function of the circadian clock,” says senior author Nahum Sonenberg, a professor in the Department of Biochemistry.

In order to study the brain clock’s mechanism, the researchers mutated the protein known as eIF4E in the brain of a lab mouse so that it could not be phosphorylated. Since all mammals have similar brain clocks, experiments with the mice give an idea of what would happen if the function of this protein were blocked in humans.

Running against the clock

The mice were housed in cages equipped with running wheels. By recording and analyzing the animals’ running activity, the scientists were able to study the rhythms of the circadian clock in the mutant mice.

The upshot: the clock of mutant mice responded less efficiently than normal mice to the resetting effect of light. The mutants were unable to synchronize their body clocks to a series of challenging light/dark cycles – for example, 10.5 hours of light followed by 10.5 hours of dark, instead of the 12-hour cycles to which laboratory mice are usually exposed.

“While we can’t predict a timeline for these findings to be translated into clinical use, our study opens a new window to manipulate the functions of the circadian clock,” says Ruifeng Cao, a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Sonenberg’s research group and lead author of the study.

For co-author Shimon Amir, professor in Concordia’s Department of Psychology, the research could open a path to target the problem at its very source. “Disruption of the circadian rhythm is sometimes unavoidable but it can lead to serious consequences. This research is really about the importance of the circadian rhythm to our general well-being. We’ve taken an important step towards being able to reset our internal clocks — and improve the health of thousands as a result.”

Read the study here.

McGill joins “Walk for Montreal” to inaugurate new MUHC Glen site

Wed, 2015-04-29 10:36

Join Prof. Suzanne Fortier, Dr. David Eidelman and thousands more to mark historic event

McGill University will join Mayor Denis Coderre and thousands of other Montrealers on Saturday, June 20, 2015 to kick off the inauguration of the McGill University Health Centre’s (MUHC) new Glen site.

The Walk for Montreal is a chance for us at McGill to come together to show our pride in our city and to celebrate this milestone for the MUHC and for health care in Montreal and Quebec.

We will walk alongside a cross-section of the community, including MUHC colleagues, Montreal business leaders, community groups, schools, media personalities, sports celebrities and many others. The 3-km walk will start at Dawson College at 10 a.m. and ends at the new hospital.

All those who register will also be invited to the official ribbon-cutting ceremony and a live concert with performances by the Sam Roberts Band and Stéphanie Lapointe on the Evenko stage. The MUHC’s inauguration celebrations continue on Sunday, June 21, with a Community Festival on the grounds of the Glen site.

This is a unique chance to be part of a historic event. Moreover, participants will make a difference for patients; all proceeds from the inauguration will be used to equip the 200 family rooms in the new hospital with comfortable furniture, pillows, quilts and blankets.

Visit walkformtl.ca to sign up. A registration fee of $5 will be requested, giving you access to the ceremony and live concert. To sign up for the McGill Team, click on the “Join a Team” link and enter “McGill University” in the empty field.

More information about the hospital’s inauguration festivities is available at: muhclovesmtl.ca.

We look forward to seeing you on June 20,

Prof. Suzanne FortierPrincipal and Vice-ChancellorMcGill University David Eidelman, MDCMVice-Principal (Health Affairs) & Dean of MedicineMcGill University

Eleven new professor promotions

Wed, 2015-04-29 10:30

On Tuesday, April 28, 2015, during its fourth meeting of 2014-15, the Board of Governors approved the Statutory Selection Committee’s recommendations to promote the following 11 associate professors to the rank of full professor:

  • Hassan Benchekroun (Economics)
  • Bernard Brais (Neurology & Neurosurgery)
  • Alyson Fournier (Neurology & Neurosurgery)
  • Fabien Gélinas (Law)
  • Juliet Johnson (Political Science)
  • Robert Koenkoop (Oncology and Medicine)
  • Matthew Lange (Sociology)
  • Stephen Liben (Pediatrics)
  • Ciriaco Piccirillo (Microbiology)
  • Réné Provost (Law)
  • Brett Thombs (Psychiatry)

Congratulations to all the professors on this important recognition of excellence in pedagogy and scholarship.

At the same meeting, Dr. Matthias Friedrich was appointed to the rank of full professor (joint) with tenure. Dr. Friedrich has been recruited from Université de Montréal, where he has held the position of tenured professor since 2011.

All 12 appointments are effective May 1, 2015.



May 5: Sport and Identity seminar

Tue, 2015-04-28 16:14

What role do sports play in the expression of Canadian cultural identities? In sports, we celebrate inclusion and common purpose, but the history of sports has been marked, much of the time, by prejudice and exclusion. From lacrosse through women’s hockey, Canadian sports have expressed collective resistance, protected endangered community traditions and been key sites of conflict over the character of Canadian society.  This symposium brings together five scholars whose work addresses the complex role of sports in Canada and will be hosted by Brendan Kelly, journalist for the Montreal Gazette, CBC Radio and Radio-Canada. It will take place on Tuesday, May 5, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the McGill Faculty Club (3450 McTavish). This event is free and open to the public. Reception to follow. RSVP required: misc.iecm@mcgill.ca.

Get more information.



Updates on priority action plans now available

Tue, 2015-04-28 16:03

Where does McGill see itself in five years? In ten? Last year, Principal Fortier set out five priority areas for the future of the University. Quarterly updates about the corresponding action plans are now online. The plans build on several strategic planning exercises conducted over recent years, as well as the Principal’s own conversations and consultations across the McGill community.



May 25: Living well beyond cancer

Tue, 2015-04-28 15:59

On Monday, May 25, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., hear from experts who will share their knowledge on living with cancer as a chronic disease, and from a survivor sharing his personal journey.  This promises to be an empowering evening to celebrate health, longevity and living with hope while dealing with uncertainty in life after cancer. Get more information. Sessions will be delivered in English and the Q&A period will be bilingual. Refreshments will be served. Admission is free. McIntyre Medical Sciences Building, Palmer Theatre, 6th Floor (1200 Pine Avenue West)Register online, by phone at (514) 398-4970 or by email atevents.gcrc@mcgill.ca.

Skype for business clients: Coming soon to Windows Lync

Tue, 2015-04-28 15:56

Recently, Microsoft released Skype for Business to replace Lync. This new version of Skype is a hybrid of the Lync client that you use at McGill and the Skype client you may use at home. IT Services will be deploying the new client to supported McGill faculty & staff users starting on May 13. For Office 365 users, Microsoft will automatically update the Lync Online service to Skype for Business Online by the end of May. Get all the details.

Pension Fund 2014 performance

Tue, 2015-04-28 12:26

The McGill University Pension Plan’s Balanced Account achieved an impressive gross rate of return of 10.1 per cent in 2014, capping off an excellent year for growth.

A high-level summary of the Balanced Account’s performance as of December 31, 2014 is available in the table below:

Balanced Account Performance

Asset class

Annualized returns

% of total holdings

Equity Pool (stocks)



Fixed Income -Pool (e.g. bonds)



Total Growth:




On April 27, the McGill University Pension Plan published its 48-page Annual Report for 2014, which provides more extensive details about the Pension Plan’s holdings and performance.

Annual meeting and vote

All plan members are invited to the May 1 Pension Plan Annual Meeting, where the plan’s performance will be discussed further. Members also have until 12:00 p.m. on May 1 to cast their ballot in favour of or against voting procedures to be used when electing member representatives on the Pension Administration Committee.

McGill’s pension fund, worth about $1.4 billion, includes over 9500 current and former McGill employees.



Your pension: Friday vote and Annual Meeting

Tue, 2015-04-28 12:21

Photo: John Kelsey

Annual Pension Meeting

If you are a member of the McGill University Pension Plan and want to learn more about how your pension funds are being invested, you may want to attend the Annual Meeting of Plan Members, being held at noon on Friday, May 1 in Leacock 232.

Active members also have until the beginning of the meeting to vote online regarding the rules that apply for the election of member representatives on the Pension Administration Committee, or can present their paper ballot at the meeting instead.

What you’re voting on:

Each year, members of the McGill pension plan (both current and retired) are eligible to vote on the “continuance of voting procedures,” which has two parts:

  1. Proxy votes
    The current proxy vote system allows members to have someone vote on their behalf. This is great for people who don’t plan to attend pension meetings in person, but who would still like to have a say.
  2. Proportional Voting
    This system is used in the election of representatives to the Pension Administration Committee. The number of votes each member receives is in direct proportion to their account value. The number of votes are determined as follows: :

    1. Pension plan members who haven’t yet settled are entitled to one vote for each dollar of savings in their pension fund at year-end.
    2. Retired members who receive McGill pension annuities are entitled to nine votes for each dollar of annuity payment received.

Only one nomination was received for the available Academic Staff Representative position; therefore, Professor Julia Scott will be acclaimed for a three-year term and no vote is required.

These measures will be determined in a single vote (i.e. a “FOR” vote supports both of them). The results will be announced at the Annual Meeting on Friday.

When, where and how to vote:

If you are an active member of the McGill University Pension Plan, you have until noon on Friday, May 1 to vote online. If you’ve received a paper ballot, you can submit it in person at the Friday assembly. If you vote online you’ll be voting by proxy, which involves making two decisions:

  1. Choose your proxy
    You have the option to appoint Lynne B. Gervais (Chair of the Pension Administration Committee) or John D’Agata (Secretary of the Pension Administration Committee) to vote on your behalf, or name another plan member who will attend the assembly.
    Once you’ve chosen a proxy, you’ll opt to vote either “FOR” or “AGAINST” Continuance.

What else is happening at the Annual Meeting?

In addition to tallying and announcing the results of this vote, the Pension Plan members in attendance will also:

  • Acclaim one Academic Staff representative to the Pension Administration Committee;
  • Receive the financial report of the McGill University Pension Plan for 2014 and the independent auditor’s report thereon;
  • Receive the stewardship report of the Pension Administration Committee;
  • Receive the investment performance report of the McGill University Pension Plan for 2014; and
  • Conduct any other business that is properly brought before the assembly.

HPV vaccine shows early benefits in young girls

Tue, 2015-04-28 10:57

Ontario data examined by Queen’s, McGill researchers

By Cynthia Lee

Data from Ontario show early benefits from the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in young girls, according to a new study by researchers at Queen’s University and McGill.

The HPV vaccine, which protects against four types of HPV shown to cause cervical cancer and anogenital warts, is offered free through school-based programs to young girls across Canada. Despite the fact the vaccine is free, vaccine rates are lower than expected in a number of regions, in part because parents perceive their daughter’s level of sexual activity as low at young ages.

“We observed a large and significant reduction in cervical dysplasia, a precursor to cervical cancer, in girls as young as 14-17 years,” say Leah Smith and Linda Lévesque, researchers with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) at Queen’s University.

McGill professors Jay Kaufman, from the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health (EBOH), and Erin Strumpf, from EBOH and the Department of Economics, co-authored the study.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, also found the vaccine is starting to decrease genital warts in this population.

“The fact that these benefits were observed in such a young age group strengthens current recommendations that vaccination should not be delayed,” says Dr. Smith, lead author on the study and a former McGill PhD student.

This study followed 260,493 girls, half of whom were eligible for Ontario’s publicly funded Grade 8 HPV vaccination program in its first two years (2007/08 and 2008/09).

Researchers found that among the 2,436 cases of cervical dysplasia documented between Grades 10 to 12, 44 percent fewer cases occurred in eligible girls who received the vaccine. The research showed that one case of cervical dysplasia was prevented for every 175 eligible girls vaccinated.

“Although the vast majority of cases prevented by the vaccine would not have progressed to cervical cancer, given the burden of cervical dysplasia on the emotional and physical well-being of girls as well as on the health-care system, these early reductions are nevertheless of great importance,” says Dr. Lévesque.


Royal Victoria Hospital transferred to Glen site

Mon, 2015-04-27 16:49

A patient transferring from the Royal Victoria Hospital is greeted at the Glen site. / Photo: Pierre Dubois

By McGill Reporter Staff

The eagle has landed.

On Sunday, April 26, the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) pulled off the largest hospital move ever carried out in Canada, as 154 inpatients (139 adults and 15 babies) were safely transferred from the Royal Victoria Hospital to the Glen site. This move, which lasted 5 hours 20 minutes, was one of the key redeployment operations for the MUHC this year. The operation went off without a hitch.

Planning the move, which has been described as one of the most complex in North American history, began two years ago. In all, some 2,500 staff members working in colour-coded teams assisted during the day, with a fleet of over 30 ambulances and specially adapted medi-cars transporting patients from the RVH to their new digs.

Some 2,500 staff members worked in colour-coded teams to help pull off the complex move without a hitch. / Photo: Pierre Dubois

“Safety has been our number-one priority. Thanks to ongoing planning and excellent teamwork, we are proud to say that all of our patients are now comfortably settled in at our new Glen site facilities,” said Jean-Marc Troquet, Chief of the Adult Site Emergency Departments and Co-Chair of the Coordination Committee for Adult Patient Transfers. “The success of this move is the result of two years of preparation.

“The skills of MUHC employees and doctors, staff from Health Care Relocations (HCR), Urgences-santé technicians, and all of our volunteers played a big role in this seamless transfer,” he added. “Command centres at the Royal Victoria Hospital and the Glen site coordinated everyone’s roles, and this has helped ensure the continuity and quality of patient care.”

A fleet of ambulances stand ready to begin transferring patients from the Royal Vic to the Glen site on April 26. / Photo: Pierre Dubois

But the day wasn’t only about the move. Despite the hiccup-free success of the relocation, the happiest event of the day occurred at 6:55 a.m. when Marie Brilleaud, the Glen’s first-ever patient, gave birth to a healthy 3.6-kilogram son, Arthur Perreault – the first baby of what promises to be many delivered at the Glen.

With 500 individual rooms, two emergency departments, and over 50 specialized services, the Glen site is one of the most innovative university health care centres in North America. Designed specifically for patient well-being, the new hospital will also let interdisciplinary teams work together to share their knowledge, discoveries and resources to advance medicine.

“This new chapter for the MUHC is a historic event. I am convinced that the MUHC’s future is in good hands, and that our investment in innovation with this new cutting-edge institution will pay off with great discoveries,” said Dr. Ewa Sidorowicz, Associate Director General, Medical Affairs and Director of Professional Services at the MUHC.

The Glen site’s clinical activities for adult care will gradually resume as we prepare for the upcoming move of the Montreal Children’s Hospital on May 24. The redeployment will be complete with the move of the Montreal Chest Institute and some services from the Montreal General Hospital on June 14.

The state-of-the-art Glen site has two emergency rooms and 500 individual rooms for patients. / Photo courtesy of the MUHC


We’ve looked at clouds from both sides now

Mon, 2015-04-27 14:51

Not all file storage services are created equal

By Gabrielle Krim

No one can deny that cloud services offer the most affordable solution for file storage. Never before has our consumption of video and audio been higher and we seem to have an insatiable need for more storage space. The packrats among us are no doubt thrilled about the virtually limitless and often free space provided by the cloud – it’s like having a spare room in a magic dimension that lets you keep a much as you like without seeing the mess.

And let’s not forget the convenience of being able to access our data from anywhere, on virtually any device that’s Internet-enabled. Yes, these benefits are all well and good for personal files, such as family vacation photos, music and cooking recipes, but what about when it comes to Institutional data? The security of data in the cloud depends on the terms of service offered by the provider, and not all cloud services are equal.

McGill has a responsibility to protect institutional data. Ghilaine Roquet, McGill’s Chief Information Officer, is very much aware of this duty. When negotiating McGill’s contract with Microsoft for Office 365, including OneDrive for Business cloud storage, she made sure it would guarantee the protection of Intellectual Property and would comply with data privacy laws of Quebec and Canada.

McGill has known for some time that faculty and staff were using self-acquired cloud services both for personal use and to collaborate with colleagues across the globe. While we were preparing to provide faculty and staff with OneDrive for Business cloud storage – available since April 2015 – “we knew we needed to give the community some guidance on what institutional data should be hosted where. The Cloud Data Storage Directive was born out of this need,” Roquet said.

The Cloud Directive identifies different types of institutional data – Regulated, Protected, and Public – and dictates which types can be stored in self-provisioned cloud services, such as Google Drive, Dropbox vs. McGill-provisioned cloud services, such as OneDrive For Business.

The main points of the Directive can be summarized as follows:

  • Regulated Institutional Data is data regulated by laws or governing bodies, for example personal information, student records, medical records, bank/credit card data, and the like. These cannot be stored in self-acquired/consumer-level cloud services, nor in the current OneDrive for Business offering.
  • Protected Institutional Data includes data that should remain internal to McGill, but is not regulated by laws. This category includes material such as operation procedures, project documents, etc. This type of data may be stored in a McGill-approved cloud service, e.g., OneDrive, as long as the master copy of the data resides on McGill premises, in a system that is backed up regularly. It may not be stored on self-acquired cloud services (see exception below for Research).
  • Research Protected Institutional Data may also be stored in a self-acquired cloud service, as long as the user has performed due diligence to ensure the security of the data.
  • Public Institutional Data is data that is already in the public domain, for example available on public Internet sites, journals, television, etc. This type of data can be stored in self-acquired or McGill-provisioned cloud services.
  • If you are currently storing any institutional data in a self-acquired cloud service, it must be removed or migrated to a McGill-approved cloud service.
  • McGill’s Content Management System, Documentum, is an appropriate on-premises file storage solution for master copies of all institutional data.

While it’s important to keep McGill Institutional Data out of cloud services that are not secure, the directive also aims to ensure this data does not end up on local computers and other devices that could potentially be compromised. To avoid this situation, the Directive states that if Regulated or Protected Institutional Data is stored in the cloud, it may only be synched to McGill-owned, password-protected devices. This restriction does not apply to Apps that allow access to cloud data while connected, without storing a copy on the device, as long as the communication channel is encrypted.

The best way to make use of cloud storage services while keeping institutional data safe is to understand and follow the Directive. The official version of the Directive can be found on the Secretariat’s website.

Additional Resources:

Cloud data storage companion document – includes the text of the directive, with examples and comments

Videos on the Cloud Data Storage Directive and cloud computing security awareness

OneDrive cloud storage service


End of an era as Reporter to go online-only

Mon, 2015-04-27 14:04

The McGill Reporter first hit the stands in 1968. The last print edition will be issued on May 29, 2015.

By Doug Sweet

On Friday, May 29, 2015, The McGill Reporter will publish our final print edition, featuring coverage of Spring Convocation and other University events. From that point on, we’ll be online only.

This is part of the evolution of The Reporter, which began publishing in 1968 as a weekly, and moved to fortnightly publication some years later, before becoming a primarily online publication, with a quarterly print product, in the fall of 2012.

But that doesn’t mean McGillians will be starved for information about what’s happening at the University. In recent years, readership of The Reporter’s website has climbed steadily, from about 15,000 page views a month three years ago to nearly 50,000 page views a month today. And, given the constant churn of content, far more stories are going up on the website every month than was achieved “in the old days” of fortnightly publication. At the same time, we had been reducing our print run and it was becoming evident from the number of copies left in the racks that people preferred online delivery to print.

In the more than 1,400,000 page views we’ve had since November 2012, we’ve had some notably enormous stories in recent years online, including a piece about some remarkable brain mapping (45,000-plus page views), a story about McGill’s Hult Prize winners (20,000-plus) and two stories have hit 12,000 (a piece on global warming and one on our latest Rhodes scholars).

“We’re telling more stories to more people,” said Olivier Marcil, Vice-Principal (Communications and External Relations), whose department produces The Reporter. “I am very happy with the steady, sometimes dramatic, increases we’ve seen in online readership and I think that underlines the fact that we are moving with the times and delivering news about McGill in a format people are comfortable with and prefer.

“We will save more in terms of print costs, continue to reduce our ecological footprint and will be able to make improvements to the website that should make it even more attractive to our readers – and advertisers – in the months to come.”

Reporter Editor in Chief Neale McDevitt said he’s been surprised by the support we’ve had from readers in the transition to online-only publication.

“I thought we’d hear a lot more from readers who preferred print to online, but the fact is we only had a few complaints. I thought I’d be one of those who missed print, because I’ve worked in print publications for decades, but I was pleasantly surprised to get even more of a kick watching the number of readers go up and up and up.

“It’s really a thrill to know you’re reaching so many more people, more frequently, with more content. And if we weren’t delivering the kind of content people are looking for, I don’t think our numbers would have climbed so rapidly.”

The Reporter’s change to an online-only format is part of a growing trend across North American college and university campuses, as documented by such major journalistic organizations as the Poynter Institute. “A growing number of papers are cutting or considering cutting the number of print editions they publish each week or month,” Poynter reported on its website last fall. “Others are trimming their page sizes or reducing the number of copies or pages produced for each issue.

Along with the what’snew@mcgill and what’snewstudents@mcgill electronic newsletters, plus The Reporter’s Twitter feed, Reporter stories are pushed out to a wide audience, which is reflected in an uptick in website hits each time those newsletters go out, McDevitt said.

And The Reporter’s website has become the go-to place for up-to-the-minute news about emergencies on campus.

Photo galleries, including those from major events like Convocation, major stories about administrative or budgetary matters, big research stories and sports coverage are among the more popular items on the website. The ability to include video was unimaginable in the print era, and there’s also more opportunity for comment and conversations amongst readers via the website.






Arctic beetles may be ideal marker of climate change

Fri, 2015-04-24 07:50

Sensitivity of insects to climate makes them ideal for long-term biodiversity monitoring in north

By Katherine Gombay

Wanna know about climate change? Ask a beetle.

Scientists have been logging changes in weather patterns and temperatures in the Arctic for some time. Now they need to find ways to measure how these changes in climate are affecting biodiversity. One of the best places to look may be down at our feet, at beetles. That`s because, as a McGill research team discovered after doing the first large-scale survey of Arctic beetles, these six-legged critters are not only abundant in number but also diverse in feeding habits and what they eat is closely linked to the latitude in which they are found.

As a result, McGill researchers believe that Arctic beetles may prove to be ideal markers of climate change, since any changes in climate that affect the soil, plants and animals on which the beetles depend are likely to be quickly reflected in changes in the beetle communities.

Where you live is what you eat

A team of researchers led by Prof. Chris Buddle and Dr. Crystal Ernst of McGill’s Dept. of Natural Resource Sciences, were able to identify more than 460 different species of Arctic beetles in locations ranging from the edge of the boreal forest in Northern Ontario to Ellesmere Island in the far north. More significantly, they found that there were clear differences in what beetles are found where along this north-south gradient, and the ecological roles they fulfilled differed depending on the latitude in which they lived.

“Depending on the latitude and the temperature, Arctic beetles perform a range of ecological functions such as pollinating or feeding on plants, preying on other insects, and breaking down decaying matter,” says Ernst, who is the first author on the study published today in PLOS ONE. “In the far north, there are generally very high numbers of predators and far fewer beetles which eat plants, while further south the reverse is generally true.”

Beetles are sensitive types

The discovery that Arctic beetles may be especially sensitive to temperature has implications for future climate change monitoring.

“As temperatures in northern regions rise or become more variable, there is a strong possibility that the beetle communities will undergo significant changes in response,” says Buddle, the lead researcher. “Whether these changes will have positive or negative effects on Arctic ecosystems and the other animals and plants living there remains to be seen, but it is clear that beetles’ sensitivity to climate make them ideal targets for long-term biodiversity monitoring in the far north.”

Read the full article in PLOS ONE



Flameproof falcons and hawks

Fri, 2015-04-24 07:16

Most polluted bird on record found in Vancouver

By Katherine Gombay

A Cooper’s hawk, found in Greater Vancouver, is the most polluted wild bird that has been found anywhere in the world. A team of Canadian researchers made this startling discovery while analyzing liver samples from birds of prey that were discovered either injured or dead in the Vancouver area. The levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in the contaminated Cooper’s hawk were 196 parts per million, significantly higher than those recorded in birds found either in cities in California or in an electronic waste site in China. PBDEs are a group of chemicals that act as flame retardants and were once used widely in computers, stereos, televisions, vehicles, carpets and furniture.

Although many of the PBDEs have been banned since the 2000s in Canada, they continue to accumulate in landfill sites where people dispose of PBDE-rich items. In British Columbia’s Fraser River delta, for example, the quantity of PBDEs has doubled every four years over the past four decades. This can have a significant effect on the bird populations that live nearby.

“Many animals, including coyotes, eagles and hawks benefit from the excess food in our cities. A downside is the high levels of pollution. The levels of flame retardants in starlings, a favourite prey of hawks, which nested near the landfill site were fifteen times higher than levels in starlings found elsewhere in Vancouver,” says Prof. Kyle Elliott, of McGill’s Department of Natural Resource Sciences, one of the authors of the study which was recently published in the journal Science of the Total Environment. “We were surprised to see such high levels of contaminants in what I think of as ‘green’ city. We can only hope that because many forms of PBDEs have now been banned and the levels of these contaminants are rapidly disappearing from herons and cormorants in Vancouver, the same will be true for other bird species.”