Highlights from the December 1, 2016, Board of Governors meeting

Dear members of the McGill community:  

On December 1, 2016, McGill’s Board of Governors held its second meeting of the 2016-17 governance year. The full minutes from the open session, and a summary of items dealt with during the closed session, will be available following Board approval in February. (The minutes from the previous meeting, held on October 6, 2016, are now online.) In the meantime, I would like to share with you the meeting’s important discussions, decisions and developments.  

I reported on the following:

  • Enrolment statistics: The final numbers for Fall 2016 show a 1.5% increase in our student body. Our total CEGEP undergraduate new student registration increased 4.4%, with a 4.8% increase in students coming from French-language CEGEPs. The U.S. remained our top country of origin for international students, but China is now in the number-two spot, moving France to third. India and Saudi Arabia continue to be, respectively, fourth and fifth.
  • University rankings: For the 12th year in a row, Macleans magazine has ranked McGill as the top university in Canada among institutions with medical schools and a broad range of PhD programs. This is an ongoing testimonial to our community’s talents and dedication. McGill ranked 18th out of 150 in the 2016 Global University Employability ranking, due to criteria related to the quality of our students, our academic and support programs and experiential learning opportunities.
  • Government Relations:
    • Provincial:
      • Conseil des universités du Québec: McGill has worked with other universities, through the Bureau de coopération interuniversitaire (BCI), to develop a common position regarding the mandate, responsibilities and composition of this new council.
      • Mont-Royal: We have made a submission to the Conseil du patrimoine du Québec regarding its consultation on the protection of, and sustainable practices for, Mont-Royal.
  • Federal:
    • Immigration policy: The Federal government has introduced welcome changes to its immigration policy that will make it easier for international students, researchers and academics to become permanent residents.
    • Deputy Minister of Canada (Economic Development for Quebec Regions): We recently welcomed Manon Brassard to our downtown campus for a showcase of research interests including computing, clean technology, and entrepreneurship.
    • External Relations
      • Réseau électrique métropolitain: The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec announced the addition of three new stations to the Réseau électrique metropolitan (REM) project, which would link McGill’s two campuses, the Université de Montréal and Griffintown in the heart of the Quartier de l’innovation.
      • Universities Canada: I moderated the “Open Mind Open Borders” roundtable with the ambassadors of France, Germany and Mexico. The event stressed the need for support and investment in Canadian outbound student mobility.
      • Remembrance Day: Hundreds of people attended the ceremony at Macdonald campus. The official Montreal event was moved to Place du Canada due to construction around the downtown campus; veteran Frederick A. “Tex” Dawson, BArch’50, Chair Stuart (Kip) Cobbett and I attended and laid a wreath at the cenotaph.

  I closed my remarks by congratulating some members of the McGill community for their outstanding achievements:

During closed session, the Board approved two recommendations of the Nominating, Governance and Ethics Committee. Current Board member-at-large Ram Panda will succeed Kip Cobbett as Chair of the McGill Board of Governors on July 1st, 2017. The Honorable Michael A. Meighen has agreed to serve a second term as Chancellor.  

On the recommendations of the three respective advisory committees, the Board approved the re-appointment of Dr. David Eidelman as Vice-Principal (Health Affairs) and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, and the appointments of Yves Beauchamp as Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance) and Martha Crago as Vice-Principal (Research and Innovation). I would like to thank Dr. Rosie Goldstein for her six years of exemplary service as Vice-Principal (Research and Innovation), and Professor Morty Yalovsky for his leadership as interim Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance) since June 2016.  

I am pleased to report that the Board approved the recommendations of the University Tenure Committee for Recruitment for two new professor recruitments, and the recommendations of the Statutory Selection Committee for nine promotions to full professor. Congratulations to everyone for this recognition of excellence in their teaching, research and scholarly activities.  

During open session, the Board unanimously approved the University’s Policy Against Sexual Violence. Congratulations to the Student Working Group, Provost Christopher Manfredi, Associate Provost (Policies, Procedures and Equity) Angela Campbell and everyone who contributed to the creation of this important policy.  

The Board received reports from four standing committees:

  • The Finance Committee outlined the priorities, necessities, risks and uncertainties that it is taking into consideration as it begins the budget-planning process for FY2017-2018.
  • The Nominating, Governance and Ethics Committee recommended a number of appointments to Advisory and Board Standing Committees and various internal and external bodies. The Board approved the Committee’s recommendation to hold community sessions twice a year during Board meetings, and to adopt Guidelines for Questions at Board of Governors Community Sessions. Guidelines will be made available to the community shortly.
  • The Executive Committee summarized the approvals it made, in the name of the Board, at the Committee’s October 28, 2016, meeting. These decisions included approving the creation of the School of Population and Global Health within the Faculty of Medicine.
  • The Investment Committee presented a summary of initiatives in response to the CAMSR recommendations, as requested by the Board in March 2016.

I presented the University’s annual scorecard of key performance indicators.  

The Board approved Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Manfredi’s recommendation that the University renew its five-year ProQuest online subscription. ProQuest provides the University community with full-text databases, e-book collections, indexes and other information resources.  

Marc Weinstein, Vice-Principal (University Advancement), presented a report on philanthropic results and activities for fiscal year 2016, as well as an overview of preparations for the University’s Bicentennial Campaign.  

Kip Cobbett presented a report on the November 10, 2016, Joint Board-Senate Meeting about “McGill’s Sustainability Plans and Initiatives.” The report identified steps for the University community to address sustainability challenges.  

The Board received a motion from Governor Ben Ger requesting that the Nominating, Governance and Ethics Committee consider governance best practices, and agreed that Governor Ger refer the request to the Chair of that Committee.  

The Board will next meet on February 2, 2017. I will share key actions and discussions with you shortly thereafter. Summaries of Board meetings from previous years are archived here.  

If you have questions, ideas or comments, please write me at suzanne.fortier [at] mcgill.ca. I always appreciate hearing your thoughts.  


Suzanne Fortier

Principal and Vice-Chancellor

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