Highlights from the April 27, 2017, Board of Governors meeting

Dear members of the McGill community:

McGill’s Board of Governors convened on Thursday, April 27, 2017, for its fourth meeting of 2016-17. Here are the important discussions, decisions and developments from that meeting.

I am pleased to report that, during closed session, the Board approved the promotion of 14 associate professors. Congratulations to these new full professors on this recognition of excellence in their teaching, research and scholarly activities. The Board approved the appointments of one new full professor and two new associate professors, with tenure.

The Board considered a motion to rescind its endorsement of the recommendations of the 2016 CAMSR report. The motion was defeated.

My remarks in the open session addressed the following topics:

  • Government relations:
    • On April 10, the federal Fundamental Science Review panel released “Investing in Canada’s Future: Strengthening the Foundations of Canadian Research.” The report includes recommendations for reinvestment in discovery research across the disciplines, international and interdisciplinary collaborations, and supporting talented researchers throughout their careers.
    • The Quebec government has launched a new foreign policy strategy that aims, in part, to boost the international mobility of researchers and students.
  • External relations:
    • At the Universities Canada membership meeting, held in Montreal on April 25-26, I participated in a group discussion on the mental health challenges faced by universities across Canada.
    • The Association of American Universities met on April 23-25. The agenda included business-university partnerships, research funding, the political climate and sexual violence. McGill is one of two Canadian universities in the AAU.
    • The Business/Higher Education Roundtable met on April 19 to continue its work on creating more work-integrated learning opportunities to help students transition from study to work.
    • On March 24, I attended a World Economic Forum Roundtable at the launch of the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in San Francisco. The centre is developing frameworks and partnerships to accelerate the application of science and emerging technologies in the global public interest.

The past two months have been difficult for our University on several fronts, and I stressed our commitment to addressing the serious issues that are challenging both McGill and campuses across North America.

I closed by focusing on some of McGill’s recent good news stories, offering my congratulations to members of our community who have been recognized for their outstanding achievements:

  • Prof. Ehab Abouheif (Department of Biology) received a Guggenheim Fellowship.
  • Marc Weinstein, Vice-Principal (University Advancement), is the 2017 recipient of the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education’s Outstanding Achievement Award.
  • Prof. Vicky Kaspi (Department of Physics) received the 2017 Prix d’excellence from the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies.
  • Books by Prof. Juliet Johnson (Department of Political Science) and Prof. Emeritus Daniel Levitin (Department of Psychology) have been shortlisted for the 2017 Donner Prize.
  • Dr. Bernard Lapointe (Palliative Care McGill) has won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians.
  • Basketball player Dele Ogundokun (Management) and hockey player Mélodie Daoust (Physical Education) are McGill’s student athletes of the year.

The Board approved the University’s budget for FY2017-2018. Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Christopher Manfredi reported that the University will continue to engage in cost-saving measures, necessitated by funding cuts in recent years, but there will be some investment in strategic priorities such as faculty-led initiatives and Student Life and Learning. The full Budget Book, once finalized, will be posted on the Provost’s website.

The Board approved the following recommendations:

  • Finance Committee: The University’s maximum borrowing amount will remain at $300 million for the period May 1, 2017, to May 31, 2018. The Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur (MEES) requires the University to confirm this limit annually.
  • Building and Property Committee:
    • Replacement of the roof, and rehabilitation of exterior masonry walls, of the Macdonald-Harrington Building. Work is to begin June 2017.
    • Electromechanical infrastructure upgrade to the Lyman Duff Complex. (Approved in principle.)
    • Installation of temporary ventilation, and demolition of the existing ventilation, in the Lyman Duff Complex. Work is to begin May 2017.
    • Procurement and installation of software to support Human Resources processes, for all McGill staff, from recruitment to retirement.
  • Nominating, Governance and Ethics Committee:
    • Appointments of representatives to advisory committees for the selection of Deans in the Faculty of Dentistry and the School of Continuing Studies, and for the possible reappointment of the Dean of Engineering.
    • Appointments and reappointments to several Board standing committees, and to internal and external non-Board bodies.
    • Amendments to the Code of Ethics and Conduct for Members of the Board of Governors, to incorporate the ethics function of the Nominating, Governance and Ethics Committee mandate.
    • Amendments to the Building and Property Committee’s Terms of Reference in order to reflect oversight for IT-related matters, and to integrate two subcommittees (BPC Advisory, IT) under the purview of the committee.

The Board received an information report from the Executive Committee.

The Joint Senate-Steering Executive Committee announced the topic of the 2017-2018 Joint Board-Senate meeting: “Building stronger communities and citizenship through mentorship.” The meeting will be held on November 15, 2017. I will coordinate a working group to develop background materials and plan the agenda for this meeting.

I presented a report on the most recent meeting of McGill Senate, held April 20. This report included the following recommendations, which the Board approved:

Ollivier Dyens, Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning), presented the Annual Report on Student Life and Learning. The report was previously presented to Senate.

Professors Angela Campbell and Hudson Meadwell presented a report on the objectives, timelines and progress of the Provost’s Task Force on Indigenous Studies and Indigenous Education.

Edyta Rogowska, Secretary-General, announced the Board meeting dates for the next academic year: October 5 and December 12, 2017, and February 15, April 26 and May 24, 2018.

The Board’s final meeting of 2016-2017 will be held on May 25. The full minutes from the previous regular meeting, held on February 2, plus a summary of items dealt with during that meeting’s closed session, are now online; the minutes from last week’s meeting will be available following approval by the Board in May.

I welcome your thoughts, ideas and questions. You can always contact me at suzanne.fortier [at] mcgill.ca.

Sincerely,

Suzanne Fortier

Principal and Vice-Chancellor

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