Welcome back to your campus

A message from Principal and Vice-Chancellor Heather Munroe-Blum, September 4, 2012

I hope you had an interesting summer, and that you were able to take time out to recharge and refresh body and mind. During my break, the long days and warm nights were filled with family and friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen in a long time. I had the great fortune of spending two weeks in Quebec’s beautiful Laurentians, swimming, hiking, and canoeing on a quiet lake.

And, of course, there were books read simply for pleasure—a vacation luxury. My favourite of the summer was Just Kids, the memoir by Patti Smith, “Godmother of Punk”, about her artistic awakening in the New York City of the late 1960s, and her relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe. The book describes the rough spots and the joyful freedom that characterized that time. Smith writes brilliantly of that era. But her book is no mere nostalgia trip. One can’t help but be struck by her universal themes of friendship, the beauty of art, the importance of optimism, of taking risks, and, of learning to express oneself authentically. Watching McGill’s campuses again hum with activity, I’m reminded of how inextricably entwined universities are with the awakening of these elements of life.

The new term has just launched with a fabulous Orientation co-organized by the Students Society of McGill University (SSMU), McGill’s First Year Office and the Macdonald Campus Students’ Society. Orientation was jam-packed with creative and dynamic activities—including the creation of the world’s largest fruit salad. Not only was the salad a community exercise in sustainability (more than half of the 11,197 pounds of fruit was harvested from McGill’s Macdonald campus), it was also used to feed people at several local charities and street missions. Congratulations to everyone involved in all our Orientation activities. I know it has meant a lot of hard work, but it has been greatly appreciated by the many newcomers to our campuses—and by those returning.

This fall our student, faculty and staff organizations are offering a wide variety of opportunities to engage and to do some things you’ve never done before. Why not put doubt aside and try something new? Everything we try is a step toward fuller expression of our authentic selves.

In closing, I extend a warm welcome to our new students, new professors, and new staff who are becoming part of the McGill Family for the first time. And, as we all step forward into the academic year, let’s try to hang onto a bit of that summer feeling.  The warmth.  The happiness.

Best wishes,


Heather Munroe-Blum
Principal and Vice-Chancellor
McGill University

Back to top