Highlights from the Dec. 16, 2021 Board of Governors meeting

Dear members of the McGill community:

McGill’s Board of Governors held its second meeting of the 2021-2022 governance year on December 16, 2021. In keeping with public health guidelines, the meeting was held remotely.

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

The full minutes of the meeting’s open session will be available following approval at the Board’s next meeting, on February 10, 2022. 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


Governance & senior administration

In closed session, on the recommendation of the Nominating, Governance, and Ethics Committee, the Board approved the appointment of Governor Maryse Bertrand as Chair of the Board of Governors of McGill University for a four-year term commencing July 1, 2022.

A member of several of the Board’s Committees, and a valued contributor to the Board’s governance activities, Ms. Bertrand has been serving as a member-at-large of the Board since July 2016 and as a Board Vice-Chair since October 2018. She will assume her duties as Chair on July 1, 2022, for a four-year term effective until June 30, 2026.

Ms. Bertrand is currently an advisor in governance and risk management and a corporate director. She earned a Bachelor of Civil Law degree with high distinction from McGill in 1980 and a Master of Science in Risk Management from the New York University Stern School of Business in 2016. She was awarded the distinction of Advocatus Emeritus by the Quebec Bar, in recognition of exceptional contribution to the practice of law in 2007. She was also a member of the McGill Faculty of Law Advisory Board for more than 15 years.

Ms. Bertrand understands and appreciates the mission and values of the University and is deeply devoted to the vitality and well-being of the McGill community. We are delighted to welcome her to this role and invite you to join us in congratulating and thanking her for her continued service and commitment.

The Board also approved:

  • The extension of the appointment of Mr. Claude Généreux as Vice-Chair of the Board of Governors for a further one-year term commencing July 1, 2022.
  • The appointment of Mr. Jonathan Sigler as a member-at-large of the Board of Governors for a five-year term commencing July 1, 2022, and as a member of the Executive Committee and Chair of the Building and Property Committee for a three-year term commencing July 1, 2022. The Board also reappointed him as a member of the Building and Property Committee for another three-year term commencing July 1, 2023.
  • The reappointment of Mr. Pierre Matuszewski as a member-at-large of the Board of Governors for a term of five years commencing July 1, 2022 and as member and Chair of the Finance Committee and member of the Executive Committee for another three-year term commencing on July 1, 2022.
  • The reappointment of Ms. Maarika Paul as a member-at-large of the Board of Governors for a term of five years commencing July 1, 2023 and as member and Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee for another three-year term commencing July 1, 2022.

We extend our congratulations to Mr. Claude Généreux on the extension of his appointment, to Mr. Jonathan Sigler on his appointment and to Mr. Pierre Matuszewski and Ms. Maarika Paul on their reappointments.

During the closed session, on the recommendation of the Principal and pursuant to the advice of the Advisory Committee, the Board approved the following:

  • The reappointment of Professor Yves Beauchamp as Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance) for a second five-year term, commencing July 1, 2022.
  • The reappointment of Mr. Louis Arseneault as Vice-Principal (Communications and External Relations) for a second five-year term, commencing July 1, 2022.

Congratulations to Professor Yves Beauchamp and Mr. Louis Arseneault on their reappointments.


Key updates and decisions

During the meeting’s closed session, the Board approved the appointment of two professors to the rank of Full Professor. The McGill Reporter will publish the names of these professors once they have been notified.

The Board also authorized McGill University to execute a Call for Tenders for the purchase of health insurance for its international students.

The Board received an executive summary on the implementation of the McGill University Master Plan by the Building and Property and Finance Committees which outlined the progress in implementing the Plan from a real estate and financial perspective.

In addition, the Board received a notice of motion regarding proposed amendments to the University Statutes. The Board will further consider the amendments and report at its next meeting on February 10, 2022.

During the open session, the Board received a report from the Finance Committee, from a meeting held on December 13, 2021. As part of the report, Fabrice Labeau, Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning), presented the first of three reports on the budget planning exercise for FY2022-2023, outlining the priorities, necessities, risks and uncertainties that the University is taking into consideration as it begins the budget-planning process for the upcoming fiscal year.

Also during the open session, on the recommendation of the Nominating, Governance and Ethics Committee, the Board approved several appointments or reappointments to Board Standing Committees.

The Board was informed that the Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility had received an expression of concern in accordance with its terms of reference and was currently assessing it. The Committee will submit a report to the Board at a future meeting.

Lastly, the Board received the 2020-2021 University Advancement Annual Report. As part of the report, Marc Weinstein, Vice-Principal (University Advancement) highlighted the recent achievements of the UA team.


Principal's remarks

The Principal’s opening remarks provided updates since the last Board meeting in October.


Campus update

The Fall term is coming to an end and has gone well. We have been able to deliver 85% of the curriculum in person.

Since the start of the semester, we had three cases of campus transmission - one case in a research laboratory on downtown campus in mid-September, and two further cases in December – one in a laboratory on Macdonald campus, and another one in our athletics facilities.

We have not seen any evidence to date of people transmitting the virus in an exam room or classroom.

In a message to the McGill community issued on December 14, we reinforced the importance of everyone following our safety measures, and further tightened our guidelines for mask wearing and gatherings.

On December 14, Quebec’s Minister of Health Christian Dubé asked employers to prioritize telework. As a result, McGill is returning to the same level of in-person presence that was put in place in the summer: administrative and support staff who can perform their job functions at home should work approximately 30% of their time in the office.

During the Fall semester we started to offer COVID-19 rapid testing on campus as a pilot project. We continued using vaccination passports for non-essential activities, as well as carbon dioxide monitoring in teaching areas.

We will continue to evaluate the situation as it evolves, prioritizing in-person teaching and research while remaining prudent.

The Principal acknowledged Fabrice Labeau, Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) and the Emergency Operations Centre team for their leadership and outstanding work in protecting our community during the crisis.


Government relations

Federal fall Economic and Fiscal Update

On December 14, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland delivered an update on the Canada’s finances.

The economic update did not include any specific mentions of the new research and science commitments announced in the 2021 Liberal platform, but we are confident to see some of those included in the upcoming federal budget.


Meeting with Deputy Minister Simon Kennedy

The Principal recently met with the Deputy Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Simon Kennedy. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss important initiatives for McGill such as the New Vic project as well as the biomanufacturing initiative that will be launched by the federal government.


House of Commons Science and Research Committee

A new House of Commons Science and Research Committee was created last spring. The Committee has a mandate to study matters related to science and research. On December 14, former Minister of Science, Dr. Kirsty Duncan, was elected Chair of the Committee.


Commission on Academic Freedom

The Commission scientifique et technique indépendante sur la reconnaissance de la liberté académique dans le milieu universitaire, made its report public on December 14. The academic community is concerned with the recommendation of imposing a framework for academic freedom through law. We will be analyzing the content of the report with our colleagues from the Bureau de coopération interuniversitaire (BCI).


Community Relations

In December, we held an event to celebrate a gift to the McGill and Concordia basketball programs by George Lengvari. He played three years at McGill, serving as team captain in 1964-65, and is passionate about both of his almae matres. He donated $1M to McGill and $1M to Concordia in support of our basketball teams. 


Selected kudos

The Principal concluded her remarks by highlighting some of the members of our community who have recently received well-deserved recognition:

  • Two McGill researchers, Prof. Michel Biron (Département des littératures de langue française, de traduction et de création) and Prof. Susanne Lajoie (Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology), received Acfas research prizes for their exceptional contributions to their fields.
  • Prisca Bustamante, an Oncology PhD candidate, won a Mitacs award for outstanding innovation for developing a non-invasive blood screening test for early detection of eye cancer.
  • Three professors from our Department of Physics received research medals from the Canadian Association of Physicists: Professors Simon Caron-Huot, Sangyon Jeon, and Robert Brandenberger.



The Board received the following reports. Click on the links to read the full reports:

The Board also received the University Advancement Annual Report.


Closing remarks

The Chair concluded the meeting by wishing the Board members a happy and safe holiday season.


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