Highlights from the October 8, 2015, Board of Governors meeting

Dear members of the McGill community:

On October 8, McGill’s Board of Governors held its first meeting of 2015-16. As in previous years, I will share with you the important discussions, decisions and developments from each meeting.

It has been four months since the Board last met, so I had much to report in my remarks:

  • Fall 2015 enrolment statistics: Our total student body is 38,242, which is a 0.35% increase over last year. The US, France, China and India continue to be our top countries of origin for international students.
  • Undergraduate medical program accreditation: I invited Dean David Eidelman to provide the Board with an update on actions taken to address the issues raised in the recent accreditation review of the Undergraduate Medical Education program.
  • Rankings: McGill was ranked 24th in the world and the top Canadian university in this year’s QS World University Rankings, and rose in both the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities. Although rankings are not an exact science, we consistently take our place alongside the world’s leading institutions of higher learning, which is a reflection of our community’s hard work and commitment to excellence over nearly 200 years.
  • Government relations
    • Former Royal Victoria Hospital site: In conjunction with the just-announced feasibility study, I have launched a Principal’s Task Force on the Academic Vision and Mission of the RVH Site. Following discussions and consultations with the McGill community, we will submit a report to the Campus Master Planning Committee in early 2016.
    • Provincial funding: Earlier this year, I met with Premier Philippe Couillard, as well as with the Minister of Education François Blais and the new Deputy Minister of Education, Sylvie Barcelo. We discussed the need for additional investments in our universities and a new approach to financing them.
    • Canada First Research Excellence Fund: Our submission to CFREF’s round one was not selected for funding. This fall, we will submit a proposal for round two.
  • External Relations
    • Alumni: In August, Marc Weinstein, Vice-Principal (University Advancement), and I attended alumni events in San Francisco and Vancouver. These gatherings reinforced the strength and commitment of McGill’s alumni network.
    • World Economic Forum (WEF): I participated in two panels on innovation and collaboration at the WEF’s ninth annual Meeting of New Champions, held in Dalian, China, September 9-11. The event brought together more than 1,500 participants from business, government, research and media from over 90 countries.
    • Science and Technology Innovation Council (STIC): I accepted an invitation to join STIC as a member and vice-chair. STIC is an independent advisory body that helps inform federal policy development and decision-making by providing advice on science, technology and innovation issues.
    • Centraide: The 2015 McGill-Centraide campaign was launched last week. This year’s goal is $475,000. Thank you to everyone who helped make last year’s campaign such a great success.

I closed my remarks by congratulating several members of the McGill community who were recently recognized for their outstanding achievements:

On a final note, I congratulated the School of Continuing Studies for the launch of Vivre McGill en français. It is a great initiative that brings together what McGill offers en français as well as providing links to cultural and community activities in Montreal.

The Board approved the following items:

  • The University’s FY2014-2015 financial statements, with a corresponding report from our external auditors, Deloitte. The auditors expressed the opinion that the statements are a fair and accurate representation of the University’s financial position at April 30, 2015. Our FY2014-2015 financial statements will be posted shortly. For more information, please read this message from Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance) Michael Di Grappa.
  • A one-year extension to Dr. Rose Goldstein’s term as Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations). The extension allows her to complete several research initiatives and activities that she is leading. As Dr. Goldstein has expressed her wish to not serve as VP past June 30, 2017, a search for her successor will begin in Spring 2016.
  • Several appointments to Board standing committees, to committees arising under University regulations and to external bodies to which McGill is entitled to representation. These appointments come on the recommendation of the Nominating, Governance and Ethics Committee.
  • A $9.8-million research collaboration agreement between researchers in McGill’s Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Genome Canada/Génome Québec. This consumer health initiative, which builds on a longstanding partnership between McGill and Genome Canada, will develop tests to rapidly detect salmonella in fresh produce.

I presented a report about the latest updates to the University’s five priority areas, as well as two additional priorities related to good governance and sound management, and participation in the development of public policies.

The Board heard information updates from three committees:

  • The Building and Property Committee’s report included updates on the former Royal Victoria Hospital site, as well as purchases, leases and construction contracts between $1- and $4-million.
  • The Human Resources Committee reported that they had received an update on negotiations with several bargaining units, and the response to the Quebec government’s questions about compensation.
  • The Executive Committee summarized approvals it made at its June 11 and September 3, 2015 meetings, including:
    • the annual distribution rate for endowment income
    • the nomination of several people from the McGill community for possible membership in provincial health care bodies
    • a report on new promotions and tenure

The Board received a report from Senate about their meeting held on September 24, 2015, during which it made several recommendations, including the renaming or naming of three research centres. The Board approved these recommendations.

Professor Robin D. Rogers, the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Green Chemistry and Green Chemicals, gave an informative presentation on his research into developing technologies that are environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.

The full minutes from the open session of last year’s final Board of Governors meeting, held on May 21, 2015, 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 November.

The Board will next meet on November 26, 2015, and 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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