Dear members of the McGill community:
As I do every year, I will be sharing with you the highlights from each meeting of McGill’s Board of Governors. Here are the important discussions, decisions and developments from the first meeting of 2016-17, held last Thursday, October 6.
Because the Board had not met since May, my opening remarks were longer than usual:
- Fall 2016 enrolment statistics: We will not have final numbers until the end of October, but our total student body is expected to increase by approximately 1.9% over last year. The US 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.
- Rankings: The major world university rankings were announced in August and September:
- QS: McGill ranked as Canada’s top university, and 30th in the world.
- Times Higher Education: Third in Canada, 42nd in the world.
- Shanghai (Academic Ranking of World Universities): Third in Canada, 63rd in the world.
Additionally, McGill ranked first in Canada, and 37th globally, in the Nature Index Rising Stars, which tracks an institution’s growth in high-quality scientific research publications over the past four years. Rankings are not an exact science, but McGill’s consistently good showing is a clear marker of how well our community continues to perform.
- Government relations
- Pre-budget consultations: As we do every year, McGill submitted a brief to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance.
- Science and innovation: McGill submitted written briefs to two federal panels, one relating to the review of funding for fundamental science and the other about Canada’s Innovation Agenda.
- Immigration: The federal and provincial governments recently launched consultations relating to immigration. McGill’s key message remains that attracting and retaining top international talent is critical for sustained innovation and economic growth.
- Conseil des universités du Québec: McGill will participate in the consultations shaping this new organization to be created by the Quebec government.
- Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund (SIF): McGill and its affiliated hospitals submitted 13 applications, totaling more than $100 million, to this federal funding program. We anticipate a decision in the coming weeks.
- Faculty of Medicine in Outaouais: Thanks to infrastructure support from the Quebec government, our longtime distributed-learning site in Gatineau will become a full satellite medical school campus. The new campus will welcome 24 students per year, with more than 90 per cent of the curriculum given in French.
- University financing: I met recently with Sylvie Barcelo, Quebec’s Deputy Minister of Education and Higher Education, and Martin Coiteux, the Minister responsible for the Montreal region, to discuss this key file.
- External relations
- International student retention: On October 4, 2016, the Quebec government and Montréal International launched a new partnership to encourage more international students to live and work in Quebec after graduation.
- Chambre de commerce du Montréal métropolitain: A new study on the contribution of greater Montreal universities to the Quebec economy was launched on October 5, 2016.
- I participated in several meetings and conferences, including the Conférence de Montréal, the Global Progress conference and the Forum des idées, as well as meetings related to my membership in the Federal Minister of Finance’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth and the Science, Technology and Innovation Council.
- MasterCard Foundation Scholars: I attended a meeting in New York marking 10 years of providing educational opportunities for economically disadvantaged African students. There are currently 54 MasterCard Foundation students enrolled at McGill, representing 15 African countries.
- Business/Higher Education Roundtable: I met with leaders from 27 post-secondary institutions and the private sector for a discussion of work-integrated learning.
- Centraide: The 2016 McGill-Centraide campaign launched on September 29. This year’s co-chairs are student leaders Victor Frankel (Post-Graduate Students’ Society), Ben Ger (Students’ Society of McGill University), Nihal Mandanna (Macdonald Campus Students’ Society) and Sean Murphy (McGill Association of Continuing Education Students), and professors Ollivier Dyens, Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning), and Dilson Rassier, Dean of the Faculty of Education. The 2016 goal is $500,000. Last year’s campaign vastly exceeded our target; thank you to everyone who contributed to this great success.
I closed my remarks by congratulating some members of the McGill community for their recent outstanding achievements:
- Professor emeritus Charles Taylor is the inaugural recipient of the $1-million Berggruen Prize, to be given annually in recognition of a thinker whose ideas have advanced and shaped humanity.
- McGill received an $84 million grant from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund for the Healthy Brains for Healthy Lives initiative, which will advance our understanding of the brain and find new treatments and cures for neurological and mental health disorders.
- The Royal Society of Canada will honour 18 McGill researchers in November. Ten of our researchers will be inducted as Fellows of the RSC. Seven other McGill researchers will be elected to the RSC’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, a group of the best of the emerging generation of knowledge leaders. Sociology professor John A. Hall will receive the RSC’s Innis-Gérin Medal for his work on state- and nation-building.
- Stephen Toope, McGill alumnus and former Dean of the Faculty of Law, has been nominated as the next head of Cambridge University.
- In recognition of its ongoing integration of sustainability into all aspects of its operations, the McGill community received a Gold rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
- The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) announced more than $10 million in funding to support 70 projects led by 157 McGill-affiliated researchers.
- Members of the McGill, Montreal and Indigenous communities joined Provost Christopher Manfredi for a special ceremony to launch his Task Force on Indigenous Studies and Indigenous Education.
During the closed session, the Board approved the appointment of Brenda Ravenscroft as Dean of the Schulich School of Music. Professor Ravenscroft will be coming to McGill from Queen’s University, where she is currently Associate Professor of Music Theory and Composition, and the Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning). She begins her term as Dean on July 1, 2017.
I am pleased to report that the Board approved the recommendations of the Statutory Selection Committee for two new professor recruitments and three promotions. Congratulations to everyone for this recognition of excellence in their teaching, research and scholarly activities.
During open session, Ben Ger and Erin Sobat of the Students’ Society of McGill University gave a presentation on SSMU’s activities, governance structure and key priorities.
The Board approved the University’s FY2015-2016 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, 2016. Our FY2015-2016 financial statements will be posted shortly.
The Board considered reports from the Nominating, Governance and Ethics Committee and the Executive Committee.
The Board approved the following items:
- The Schulich Library of Science and Engineering will be renamed the Schulich Library of Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, and Engineering.
- The creation of the McGill Centre for Islam and Science, which will have research, teaching and outreach missions.
I will share key actions and discussions from the Board’s next meeting, which will be held on December 1. (Their 2016-2017 schedule is here.) The full minutes from the open session of last year’s final meeting, held on May 16, 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 December.
I welcome your thoughts, ideas and questions. You can always contact me at suzanne.fortier [at] mcgill.ca.
Principal and Vice-Chancellor