Dear members of the McGill community:
On February 11, 2016, McGill’s Board of Governors held its third meeting of the 2015-16 governance year. I would like to share with you the meeting’s important discussions, decisions and developments.
I reported on the following:
- Government relations: In anticipation of upcoming federal and provincial budgets, we have been working with our university colleagues to ensure that our priorities are aligned and that we communicate the importance of universities for Canada’s economy and social well-being.
- External relations: I participated in last month’s World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, as a guest of the Global University Leaders Forum, a community of the presidents of top universities in the world. McGill was the only Canadian university represented at WEF. I participated in three panels: Women and Science, A New Chapter for Canada, and Global Science Outlook as well as events with members of the Canadian government and CEOs of private and public organizations.
- The former Royal Victoria Hospital: The Principal’s Task Force on the Academic Vision and Mission of the RVH Site was mandated to consult with the McGill community about potential uses for the now-vacated site adjacent to our downtown campus. The task force will be reviewing expressions of interest from University units and groups wishing to be located on the site, and will soon report to the community.
- McGill bicentennial celebrations: The year 2021 will mark the 200th anniversary of the University’s founding. I have received a report from an ad hoc planning committee, chaired by the late Chancellor Emeritus Arnold Steinberg and composed of students, professors, staff and alumni. I will share their plan with the community later in the year ahead.
I closed my remarks by congratulating some members of the McGill community for their recent outstanding achievements:
- McGill graduate Marc Tessier-Lavigne (BSc’80) is the new President of Stanford University.
- Chelsea Rus, a voice Master’s student at the Schulich School of Music, is the recipient of the new Wirth Vocal Prize.
- Québec Science magazine’s list of the 10 Discoveries of the Year includes breakthroughs by three McGill-affiliated research teams.
- Four McGill students have established the first mobile classroom in an Iraqi refugee camp. The students met during a GROOC about “Social Learning for Social Impact,” led by the Desautels Faculty of Management.
- The 2015 McGill-Centraide campaign reported a record-breaking fundraising total of $525,000.
The Board approved the appointment of Antonia Maioni as Dean of the Faculty of Arts, and the re-appointment of Olivier Marcil as Vice-Principal (Communications and External Relations). Professor Maioni succeeds Christopher Manfredi, who resigned as Dean to become Provost and Vice-Principal Academic. I would like to thank Professor Hudson Meadwell for his leadership as interim Dean of the Faculty of Arts since May 2015.
The Board approved the Building and Property Committee’s recommendation for the sale of Beatty Hall. This 104-year-old former private home no longer fits the University’s needs, with deferred maintenance issues requiring major expenditures.
As part of Board of Governors succession planning, the Nominating, Governance and Ethics Committee recommended the appointment of two new Board members-at-large in summer 2017, or earlier if positions become vacant: Pierre Matuszewski and Maryse Bertrand. The Board approved both nominations.
Michael Di Grappa, Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance), presented the annual Report on Internal Audit Functions and Activities. In accordance with the Internal Audit Charter, the report is part of a regular review process that is designed to provide independent, objective assurance of risk management, control, and governance processes in all University units.
The Board approved the recommendations of the Statutory Selection Committee to promote three associate professors to the rank of full professor. To reach this significant milestone, candidates must have an outstanding teaching track-record, be internationally recognized for the excellence of their research and scholarly activities, and have a history of contribution to the University and other academic communities.
Professor Elena Bennett, from the Department of Natural Resource Sciences and the McGill School of Environment, presented on her research on how we can improve ecosystem management by better understanding human-environment interactions. She is an associate professor in the Faculty of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. Professor Bennett is among this year’s recipients of NSERC’s prestigious E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowships.
The Board approved V-P Di Grappa’s request that the University launch a public call for tenders for provision of both cell phone and cleaning services.
The Board received reports from six of its standing committees: Audit, Human Resources, Finance, the Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility, Building and Property, and Nominating, Governance and Ethics.
The Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility (CAMSR) reported that it is at an advanced stage of its deliberations regarding Divest McGill’s petition. CAMSR expects to submit its report to the Board before the end of March 2016.
Dr. Rose Goldstein, Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations), presented the annual report on Research Performance and Innovation. Ollivier Dyens, Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning), presented the annual report on Student Life and Learning. Both reports were previously presented at the January 13, 2016, Senate meeting.
Following the recommendation of Senate, the Board gave the final approval for the transformation of the Faculty of Religious Studies into a School within the Faculty of Arts, effective immediately. The Board also approved Senate’s recommendation of the creation of two new centres: the Institute for Human Development and Well-being and the McGill University Research Centre on Complex Traits.
The Board will next meet on April 21, 2016. I will share key actions and discussions with you shortly thereafter. The full minutes from this meeting’s open session, and a summary of items dealt with during the closed session, will be available following Board approval in April. (The minutes from the previous meeting, held on November 26, 2015, are now online.) 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.
Principal and Vice-Chancellor