Holiday message

A message from Heather Munroe-Blum, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, McGill University

Dear members of the McGill community:

The holiday season is almost here, arriving in Montreal each December with its own special sensations. Some days, at least, there’s the crunch of boot-falls on fresh snow. The shortness of breath as lungs fill with crisp air. Yet, as the temperature drops and the afternoon sky darkens this year, I also find myself thinking, as I certainly never have before, of freshly picked strawberries and apples. I’ll come back to those in a moment.

We are going through a demanding period. It is true that we are facing great financial uncertainty, and significant challenges. This is why it’s so important to remember that we’re part of something exceptionally positive as well, something bigger than any one of us, something that’s making a constructive difference at home and abroad.

The holiday season is a time of charity. It’s a time to reflect on what we are fortunate to have, and on what others do not—and what we can do to close that divide. And so the strawberries, the apples and all the other memories of creating a 11,197-pound fruit salad back in August.

It’s easy to see why McGill made headlines for making the world’s largest fruit salad: The end product may have been nut-free, but the idea was more than a little nutty. But all that crazy slicing and dicing in the hot August sun raised awareness about sustainability, with more than half of the fruit being harvested locally from McGill’s Macdonald campus. It was about community. And it was about giving back to community organizations—Moisson Montréal, The Old Brewery Mission, Dans la Rue, Welcome Hall Mission, Meals on Wheels—which feed Montrealers in need.

As this holiday approaches, I am also thinking about McGill’s incredible student fundraisers, who led Rick Mercer’s cross-country anti-malaria challenge. And I think of how our community supports thousands of underprivileged Montrealers through our McGill Centraide campaign.

I hope that you find comfort this season in time-honoured traditions and simple joys in friends and family. And I hope you can take a moment to reflect, not about the storm clouds, but about all the great things you’ve accomplished, and the very positive trajectory we are on, overall. McGill has never been stronger.

Through teaching, through research, through exceptional service and volunteerism, we are giving back to our communities, we are working toward something good. Around this time each year, the pint-sized philosopher Charlie Brown and his friends sing, “Oh that we could always see such spirit through the year.” What makes McGill special, I believe, is that, for the most part, we do just that.

Thank you for making our University an exciting and dynamic place to learn, work and live and for the dedication that you bring to your work each day. I look forward to a rewarding year in 2013 and, I am confident that together, we will continue to build the strengths and contributions of McGill. I wish you and your loved ones a happy, fulfilling holiday season, and all the best in 2013.

With my warm personal regards,


Heather Munroe-Blum
Principal and Vice-Chancellor
McGill University

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