Highlights from the Nov. 28 Board of Governors meeting

Following each meeting of McGill’s Board of Governors, I will share with you the important discussions, decisions and developments. Here are the highlights from the Board’s second meeting of 2013-2014, held last Thursday.

I reported on four items in my opening remarks:

  • Our fall Convocation, held last week at Place des Arts, was a wonderful day. It was a pleasure to honour our 1,735 new graduates – who ranged in age from 20 to 76 – and to recognize our outstanding professors, support staff and honorary degree recipients.
  • On December 3,I will present a report on McGill’s performance and goals to the Commission de l’éducation et de la culture. All Quebec universities must present to the commission every three years. The event will be webcast, beginning at about 3 p.m.
  • As a result of an allegation of a sexual assault involving three McGill students off campus, we are reviewing and revising processes and procedures to ensure that McGill is a safe and respectful environment. The University takes such allegations, and the fundamental right of due process, very seriously.
  • McGill’s contribution to the Greater Montreal Centraide Campaign is off to a good start. Our goal is to raise $400,000 to help Montreal’s disadvantaged families and communities. Thank you to everyone for your generous contributions so far.

I closed my remarks by mentioning some recent accomplishments by members of the community. These included:

  • Students Jullien Flynn and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif received top athletic and academic honours at the Quebec University Sports Awards Gala, among other recognitions this fall.
  • Professors Phil Gold and Michel Tremblay each received the Prix du Québec, the Quebec government’s highest recognition of remarkable careers.

I also noted that Maclean’s named McGill Canada’s top medical-doctoral university for the ninth consecutive year.

The Chair reported on an annual event, this year held on November 18, that allows the Board and student associations to learn about each other. Six student initiatives gave presentations. The Chair thanked Jonathan Mooney and Katie Larson for organizing this terrific event.

The Chair thanked three retiring Board members for their contributions and dedication: vice-chair Lili de Grandpré, Professor Kenneth Hastings and Ann Vroom. In recognition of her 10 years of service, Ms. de Grandpré was also named Governor Emerita.

The Board held a discussion on Quebec’s proposed Bill 60. The governors unanimously agreed to adopt the same resolution, opposing the prohibition of wearing religious symbols, which McGill Senate approved earlier in the month. Please see last week’s message from Board Chair Kip Cobbett and me for more information regarding McGill’s plan to make its views known during the upcoming parliamentary commission.

Reports and presentations included:

  • Provost Tony Masi and Deputy-Provost (Student Life and Learning) Ollivier Dyens reported on scholarships and student aid In 2012-13, McGill students received a total of $96.3-million* in need-based undergraduate and graduate assistance and merit-based undergraduate awards. This amount is 11.8 per cent higher than the previous year, and 68.1 per cent higher than 10 years ago.
  • Dr. Rose Goldstein, Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations), reported on McGill’s improved research funding performance during 2012-2013 and new initiatives to diversify our research funding.
  • Of note from the four Board committees that reported:
    • The Finance Committee presented its first-phase of budget planning for FY2015. The plan projects a balanced budget with provision for paying back the debt that was accumulated due to government cutbacks.
    • The Human Resources Committee announced its approval of a three-year Academic Staff Salary Policy for fiscal years 2015-2016. The policy aims to bring McGill’s average academic compensation in line with the median compensation for U15 universities. A 2012-2013 health and safety report showed that McGill is continuing to improve its health and safety practices and performance.
  • The Chancellor reported on the successful 2013 joint meeting of McGill's Board of Governors and Senate. The topic at this year’s meeting was Mental Health. The session was dynamic and the participants were engaged and informed. The Chancellor was particularly impressed by the students’ involvement.
  • Judith Potter, Dean of the School of Continuing Studies, presented an overview of the School, with a description of the curriculum and demographic profiles of the student body.

I will share key actions and discussions from the Board’s next meeting, which will be held on February 27. (Their schedule is here.) The full minutes from the September 26 open session, plus a summary of items dealt with during that meeting’s closed session, are now available online; the minutes from last week’s meeting will be available following approval by the Board in February. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at suzanne.fortier [at] mcgill.ca. I welcome your thoughts and ideas.



Suzanne Fortier
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

*Please note: a previous version of this message has been corrected to more clearly describe the merit- and need-based breakdown of this figure.

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