Dear members of the McGill community:
McGill’s Board of Governors held its first regular meeting of the 2021-2022 governance year on October 7, 2021. The meeting was held in hybrid mode, with some Governors attending in person and some virtually.
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 December 16, 2021. 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
Key updates and decisions
During the meeting’s closed session, as per the Regulations Relating to the Employment of Tenure Track and Tenured Academic Staff, the Board approved the promotion of six academic staff to the rank of Full Professor. The McGill Reporter will publish the names of the new promotions once they have been notified.
In closed session, on the recommendation of the Building and Property Committee and the Finance Committee, the Board also approved to proceed to the Dossier d’affaires phase of the New Vic project.
During the open session, the Board received presentations on the Resumption of University Activities in Light of COVID-19. The Principal first provided a short update on the pandemic situation. She noted that Minister of Higher Education Danielle McCann recently expressed satisfaction at how well health and safety measures are working in Quebec’s higher education sector. She then called on the Provost to introduce the presentations.
The first presentation, delivered by Dr. Don Sheppard, Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Director of the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity, provided a status report on the COVID-19 situation in Quebec.
The second presentation, delivered by Professor Fabrice Labeau, Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) and Professor Christopher Buddle, Associate Provost (Teaching and Academic Programs), described the Fall Return to Campus, including COVID-19 health and safety measures, and academic planning.
On the recommendation of the Nominating, Governance and Ethics Committee, the Board approved the appointment of three Governors to the rank of Governors Emeriti, commencing July 1, 2022:
- Governor Peter Coughlin
- Governor Samuel Minzberg
- Governor Michael Boychuk
This honour is bestowed upon them in recognition of their exemplary service as Governors.
On the recommendation of the Nominating, Governance and Ethics Committee, the Board also approved several appointments or reappointments to Board Standing Committees as well as a reappointment to an internal non-Board body.
On the recommendation of the Audit and Risk Committee, the Board approved the following:
- The 2020-2021 Financial Report to the Board of Governors, including the External Auditor’s report and the Audited Financial Statements of the Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning/McGill University for the year ended April 30, 2021.
The appointment of Deloitte as external auditor of the University for the fiscal year ending April 30, 2022.
The Principal’s opening remarks provided updates since the last Board meeting in May.
Fall 2021 Enrolment
As of the third week of classes, total enrolment for Fall 2021 (39,263 students) is comparable to last year (39,725 students). Bachelor’s enrolment is down slightly. This is due to a planned small decrease in new students following an over-admission last year.
There is a small increase in enrolment in research programs: Master’s Thesis programs, and PhD programs. Enrolment in Master’s Non-Thesis programs is comparable to last year.
We continue to attract many students from outside of Canada. The top five countries of origin of international students enrolled in credit-seeking programs for Fall 2021 are China, USA, France, India and Iran. This ranking is the same as Fall 2020.
The Liberals were re-elected for a third consecutive term and with a minority government mandate.
We are pleased that there were additional commitments to higher education in the Liberal platform, in particular the creation of 1,000 Canada Research Chairs and the allocation of $75 M per year over 5 years to help colleges and universities commercialize leading research.
At the provincial level, special consultations and public hearings on Bill 96 – An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec – were held at the National Assembly. We are monitoring these hearings.
We have shared our concerns with the government relating to Bill 96, notably relating to its impacts on research funding, and the need to maintain the position of Quebec universities as prime destinations for students from around the world.
Commission on Academic Freedom
In August, the Commission scientifique et technique indépendante sur la reconnaissance de la liberté académique dans le milieu universitaire held public consultations with higher education stakeholders. McGill submitted a brief, and the Commission’s report is expected by end of year.
At-Home Homecoming was a great success. Over 7,000 people registered in more than 45 events.
- Anthony Fauci delivered the virtual Beatty Lecture. Following the lecture, he received an honorary doctorate from McGill University.
- Investment banker turned comedian and McGill alumna (MA’95), Sindhu Vee, headlined this year’s Leacock Lecture.
We are confident that we will be able to hold our Fall Convocation ceremonies in-person and will make an announcement shortly.
Bicentennial celebrations are under way, both virtually and in-person. On September 28 and 29, under the theme of “Celebrate Together,” we distributed, on our campuses and in downtown Montreal, 6,000 potted plants grown on Macdonald campus.
On September 30, the McGill community observed National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, as well as Orange Shirt Day to honour survivors and victims of residential schools, their families, and their communities. Several events were held on our campuses.
Maclean’s released their Canadian university rankings, and McGill has taken the top spot for medical-doctoral universities for the 17th straight year.
For the second year in a row, McGill has made a significant move up the list of Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), also known as the Shanghai Ranking. McGill ranked 67th, up 11 spots from last year.
In June, McGill tied for 27th in the QS World University Rankings, jumping up four spots. McGill is now third of all North American public institutions.
In the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings, McGill dropped to 44th, from 40th last year.
The Principal concluded her remarks by highlighting some of the members of our community who have recently received well-deserved recognition:
- The Royal Society of Canada announced ten McGill inductees, including three new members to the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, and seven new Fellows. McGillians earned two medals from the RSC:
- Astrophysicist Vicky Kaspi was awarded the Shaw Prize in Astronomy, often dubbed as the "Nobel Prize of the East”, for her contributions to the understanding of magnetars.
- Dr. Sheila Wang, a dermatology resident, has won a 2021 Governor General’s Innovation Award for her work on AI-driven technology that helps wound-care patients.
- Four McGill students are among this year’s winners of the Weston Family Awards in Northern Research. The two Master’s students and two PhD candidates are: Alexandra Langwieder, Jessica Norris, Julia Baak and Don-Jean Leandri Breton.
- Prof. Srividya Iyer (Department of Psychiatry) and Hani Rukh E Qamar, who studies Psychology and International Development, won awards by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health for the important work they have been doing to advance the mental health agenda in Canada.
The Board received the following reports. Click on the links to read the full reports:
- Finance Committee
- Executive Committee
- Nominating, Governance and Ethics Committee
- Investment Committee
- Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility
- Audit and Risk Committee
The Board received two annual reports:
- 2020-2021 Report on the Implementation of the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Strategic Plan
- Implementation Report: Action Plan to Address Anti-Black Racism
- With the objective of keeping members informed and knowledgeable of matters related to their role and to the functioning of the Board, the Secretariat distributed the 2021-2022 Board of Governors Reference Book.
The Secretary-General gave notice of the annual Joint Board-Senate meeting, which will be held on November 11, 2021. This year’s theme will be “The Execution of McGill’s Mission in a Changing World.”
Members of the community submitted questions to the Board of Governors on matters within its mandate. The responses to the questions are available on the Board of Governors Community Session webpage.