Highlights from the April 23, 2020 Board of Governors meeting

Dear members of the McGill community,

It is once again our pleasure to provide you with an update on the recent activities of McGill’s Board of Governors. You can learn more about the Board’s mandate and membership on its website.

On March 13, the Quebec government announced the suspension of teaching activities and all non essential activities in light of COVID-19.

McGill’s Board therefore held its fourth meeting of the 2019-2020 governance year virtually on April 23, 2020 in order to comply with government directives. The full minutes of the meeting’s open session will be available following approval at the Board’s next meeting, on May 21, 2020. In the meantime, we would like to share with you the meeting’s important discussions, decisions and developments.

Thank you for your interest in the work of the Board of Governors. If you have any questions, ideas or comments, please write suzanne.fortier [at] mcgill.ca.



Suzanne Fortier, Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Ram Panda, Chair, McGill Board of Governors


Key decisions

During the meeting’s closed session, the Board approved the following recommendations of the Statutory Selection Committee:

  • The appointment of one new Associate Professor with tenure; and
  • The promotion of three Associate Professors to the rank of Full Professor.

The McGill Reporter will publish the names of the new appointments once the candidates have been notified.

During the closed session, the Board also approved a naming proposal to an existing academic unit. The naming proposal is related to a significant gift being made to the University and will be announced at a later date.

Also during the closed session, on the recommendation of the Vice-Principal (Health Affairs) and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, the Board approved Contracts of Affiliation with six health care institutions in Quebec.

In open session, on the recommendation of the Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility (CAMSR), the Board approved the implementation plan contained in the CAMSR Report supporting the operationalization of the recommendations approved at the December 5, 2019 Board meeting. The Board recognizes the severity of this global threat and the urgency to help society move toward alternative energy sources. The series of actions and timelines are designed to accelerate the University’s responsible decarbonisation of the McGill Investment Pool.

On the recommendation of the Finance Committee, the Board approved the proposed 2021 Provisional Budget in light of the current context surrounding COVID-19. A final budget will be presented in the Fall. The full report from the Finance Committee can be accessed here.

Stemming from the report from Senate, the Board endorsed the basic principles and broad outline of the Strategic Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Plan 2020-2025. Also on the recommendation of Senate, the Board approved the proposed revisions to the Regulations Relating to the Employment of Contract Academic Staff.


Principal's Remarks


It has now been over a month since the COVID-19 pandemic changed almost every aspect of our lives and, for us at McGill, transformed how we teach, learn and work. We had two priorities at McGill: ensuring the health and safety of the members of our community and making sure that our students could complete their academic year. The winter term has since wrapped up via remote teaching with over 2,000 classes having been delivered online. The Principal thanked all those who mobilized quickly to make this possible.

In light of the situation, all in-person events have been cancelled until at least June 5. Regretfully, this means that in-person Spring Convocation ceremonies had to be called off. We are committed to finding ways to celebrate our graduates and their accomplishments in a significant way, and we are pleased to announce that our graduating class will be celebrated virtually over the course of the summer, as well as in-person, should circumstances permit, in Spring 2021.

The McGill community has come forward in a remarkable way to assist students who are being financially affected by the crisis. More than $1 million has been made available to those in need through the McGill Student Emergency Support Fund. To date, there have been over 250 recipients of student emergency bursaries, with more applications coming in daily.

The Federal Government announced more than $1 billion in support of a national medical research strategy to fight COVID-19 that includes vaccine development, the production of treatments, and tracking of the virus, including a COVID-19 Immunity Task Force. Dr. Timothy Evans, Associate Dean and Director of McGill’s School of Population and Global Health, will be the Executive Director of the COVID-19 Task Force and Dr. Catherine Hankins will co-chair the Leadership group with Dr. David Naylor of the University of Toronto. This serological testing initiative will be used to measure the scope of coronavirus infection in Canada and provide information needed to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and safely get Canadians back to work.

The Québec COVID-19 Biobank, is a province-wide initiative in collaboration with the Fonds de recherché du Québec (FRQ) and Génome Québec to enable the collection, storage and sharing of samples and data related to the COVID-19 crisis. The task force that has been mobilized to take on this role is led by Dr. Vincent Mooser, with additional medical and scientific expertise from McGill and several other Quebec institutions.

The McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (MI4) brings together a network of more than 250 researchers who are focusing their expertise and efforts in looking at every aspect of COVID-19, and acquiring the essential knowledge to defeat it.


Government Relations

McGill has been working very closely with Universities Canada and the U15 focusing on support to local and international students, as well as providing support for research and innovation, and infrastructure. The Federal government announced earlier this week $9 billion in funding for the new Canada Emergency Student Benefit.

In light of COVID-19, the Federal Budget initially scheduled to be tabled on March 30 has been postponed. We do not yet have a new date for the presentation of the 2020-2021 budget.

At the provincial level, the Quebec government has decided to redo their Budget tabled on March 10. We expect the new Budget will be presented before the end of June. The government has reaffirmed its commitment to education, but it would nevertheless be prudent to plan for less generous funding than what had previously been announced.

McGill has been working very closely with the Bureau de coopération interuniversitaire (BCI) to identify the range of challenges universities are facing as a result of COVID-19 and to ensure that the impact is communicated to the Quebec government. An ad hoc committee bringing together members from universities as well as the government has been working to identify financial issues, as well as potential solutions. McGill is represented by Fabrice Labeau, Deputy Provost of Student Life and Learning.

Finally, our Government Relations team has been in touch with officials at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and the Quebec Ministry of Immigration, Francisation et Intégration to seek clarification on travel restrictions, and to advocate on behalf of current and prospective international students as well as temporary foreign workers.

Community relations

This year, McGill 24, the University’s fifth annual day of giving, took place on March 11. McGill alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents and friends expressed their support and donors from across the community came together to raise a total of $2,956,106, setting a new record.


It is with equal measures of sadness and pride that we learned that Professor Daniel Jutras, is leaving McGill to take up the role of rector at the Université de Montréal. He will begin his five-year term on June 1, succeeding Dr. Guy Breton.

Professor Sujata Madan from the Desautels Faculty of Management has been named one of ten 2020 3M National Teaching Fellows – the highest recognition of teaching excellence at the university level. The Fellowship is jointly managed by the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) and 3M Canada.

Dr. Guy Rouleau has been recognized by the Gairdner Foundation with the Canada Gairdner Wightman Award for being a driving force in neurological disease research and his leadership in Open Science.

Progress reports

In addition to the CAMSR report, the Board also received the following reports:

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