Letters to the editor

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McGill Reporter
November 10, 2005 - Volume 38 Number 06
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Letters to the editor

Trees of McGill

I wish to thank Bronwyn Chester for a most interesting article on McGill's trees ("The ascent of McGill's trees," McGill Reporter, Thursday, October 6, 2005), enhanced by the delightful display of photographs, and for the two-hour tour of the Trees of McGill which she so ably led on Sunday, October 16, in cold drizzly weather. We can all look forward to the labels that will be placed on McGill's trees in the not too distant future, thus enhancing the educational vocation of our campus. I should, however, like to correct the caption under the magnolia tree picture on page 8: "under the guidance of Sam Kingdon, vice-principal (planning and physical resources), who retired in 1996."

G. Sam Kingdon did not hold that title. He served the university as Director of the Office of Physical Resources, then Director of the Office of Physical Resources and Business Operations. Only in 1987-88 was his title changed to Associate Vice-Principal (Physical Resources), at which time he reported to the Vice-Principal (Planning and Resources). The latter position was held by Professor Paul Davenport (1986-1989, who became President of the University of Alberta), then by the late Professor François A. Tavenas (1989-1997). On Dr. Tavenas's departure from McGill to take up the post of recteur of Université Laval, the vice-principal's position was abolished and responsibilities were re-assigned. The title "Associate Vice-Principal (Physical Resources)" that had been given to Kingdon also disappeared on his retirement from the university in May 1996.

Helen M.C. Richard
Former Assistant to the Vice-Principal
(Planning and Resources)

A leading, greener role for McGill

During the last couple of weeks we have been told by the administration about how great McGill is. We are one of the top research universities in the world. I should be thrilled and yet I am not. Even though I have been a prof in engineering for 25 years, I am somewhat disappointed by this good news because I know that the euphoria is masking a number of issues in which our performance is disappointing. We have a great team of researchers across the campus. However, the administration lacks the will (or is it the foresight) to bring together the academic and support staff under a common theme that can bind us together. Let me propose that sustainability be one of the common threads that can be used to unite us.

On Wed. Oct. 26, McGill participated in Campus Sustainability Day III. The event was a web cast conference. Sustainability and the environment are issues that we should discuss and act on. As an example, let's consider the issue of transportation to and from our work/study place at McGill. Some of us walk, some bike, some get a lift, some take public transit and some of us drive and park on campus. Of those who drive, about 90 percent do so in single occupancy vehicles (SOV's).

On several occasions I have asked the Administration to consider taking steps to show its commitment to sustainability and the environment. I have asked that carpooling be recognized, that those who use public transit be recognized, and that McGill seek a donor(s) to fund such projects. I am also asking that McGill adopt ethanol/gasoline fuel for its fleet and that it promote the use of such fuel by the McGill community. There are many possibilities. I would like each and everyone of you who agrees with me to write the Principal, the Provost, the VPs etc. to express your concerns. Make sure to copy me because I will compile your messages to promote our cause in the future.

If you are a prof, a lecturer, a TA, etc. at McGill, you should look towards incorporating sustainability and the environment in what you teach and in your research. If you are a student, ask your profs how they are contributing to improving sustainability and the environment.

A great university not only excels in research. It is one that moulds individuals who are knowledgeable in their fields of study and who are conversant with some of the major issues that confront society. The disappointment I voiced earlier stems from the fact that I do not believe that many of our graduates (or for that matter some of my colleagues) are being instilled with sufficient knowledge or are provided with adequate guidance at McGill to pursue the issues I have raised.

Let's create a collective voice that can lobby the administration to respond to our concerns and to get involved in the process. Let's work towards getting McGill to rise up and take a leading, greener role.

Frank Mucciardi
Assoc. Prof. (Engineering)

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