Dear members of the McGill community:

On Dec. 13, 2018, McGill’s Board of Governors held its second meeting of the 2018-2019 governance year. I would like to share with you the meeting’s important discussions, decisions and developments.

During the closed session, the Board approved the reappointment of Professor Dilson Rassier as Dean of the Faculty of Education. Under his leadership, the Faculty maintained its commitment to conducting leading-edge research, to supporting a learning environment, and to engaging in all its activities with a deep sense of public purpose. Dean Rassier’s second five-year term begins on July 1, 2019. Please join me in congratulating him on his reappointment.

On the recommendation of Prof. Fabrice Labeau, Interim Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning), the Board authorized McGill to launch a competitive tender for the provision of food services. The University’s current food services contract expires on May 31, 2019.

I reported on the following in open session:

  • Enrolment statistics: The final numbers for Fall 2018 show a 0.9% increase in our total student body. The geographic mix of our student body is 47.9% Quebec, 21.3% rest of Canada and 30.8% international. For the first time, China is now our top country of origin for our international students, followed by the U.S., France, India and Saudi Arabia.
  • Provincial government relations:
    • On Nov. 23, Prof. Yves Beauchamp, Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance), and Mr. Louis Arseneault, Vice-Principal (Communications and External Relations), joined me in meeting with Éric Girard, Quebec’s new Minister of Finance. The Minister emphasized that education is a priority for the new government. During the meeting, I conveyed McGill’s support of the new provincial funding policy for universities.
    • On Dec. 13, Vice-Principal Arseneault and I met with Jean-François Roberge, Quebec’s new Minister of Education and Higher Education. The Minister conveyed his strong support for education and for the university sector.
  • Economic updates: In recent weeks, both the federal and provincial governments delivered fiscal updates. Of interest to universities, the federal update included additional funding to the Mitacs International Incubators Internships. The provincial update indicated that the 2019-2020 budget will include education and health investments.
  • Community relations:
    • The Working Group on Principles of Commemoration and Renaming submitted its final report on Dec. 6. In January, McGill senior administration will announce a decision concerning next steps with respect to whether to change the Redmen varsity team name.
    • The Royal Society of Canada held a reception honouring new inductees, including 11 McGillians: six new members of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists and five new Fellows. The RSC also recognized two medal winners.
    • On Dec. 5, the University celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the Life Sciences Complex, and the visionary gifts of Francesco Bellini and Morris Goodman.
    • On Nov. 16, McGill officially launched the Bensadoun School of Retail Management, made possible by an initial $25-million gift from the Bensadoun Family Foundation and a subsequent generous contribution of more than $7.5 million from the School’s Founder’s Circle.
    • The Ludmer Center Symposium, held on Nov. 13, celebrated a new $10-million gift from the Ludmer Family Foundation to the Ludmer Centre for Neuroinformatics and Mental Health. The event highlighted research that is shaping our understanding of the human brain, and the implications for mental health and society.
    • National Bank made a $4-million gift in support of the Dobson Cup startup competition.
    • Maya Jasanoff won the Cundhill Prize for her book The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World. The prize was announced at a gala event held at the Musée des beaux-arts on Nov. 15.

As always, I ended my remarks by recognizing some recent, well-deserved external recognition of members of our community:

  • Student Arisha Khan, currently studying comparative social policy and social entrepreneurship, is McGill’s 145th Rhodes Scholar.
  • Six McGill researchers are among the inaugural cohort of Canada CIFAR AI (CCAI) Chairs.
  • Five McGillians, including Prof. Nahum Sonenberg and Prof. Emeritus François Ricard, are among the 2018 winners of the Prix du Québec, the Quebec government’s top honour for culture and science.
  • Law student Lina Bensaidane is the inaugural recipient of the Centre culturel islamique de Québec (CCIQ) Memorial Award, in recognition of her work to advance the inclusion of Muslims in Quebec and Canada.
  • Tenor Marcel d’Entremont, currently completing a Graduate Diploma in Performance, is the 2018 winner of the Wirth Vocal Competition.

The Board approved several actions recommended by the Nominating, Governance, and Ethics Committee:

  • Appointing Board representatives to the Advisory Committee for the Selection of the Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning), the Advisory Committee for the Selection of an Ombudsperson, and several internal and external non-Board bodies.
  • Amending the Building and Property Committee (BPC) Terms of Reference to reflect the discontinuance of the BPC’s mandate over matters related to information technology, which are now under the purview of the recently established Information Technology Committee of the Board, bringing the number of board standing committees to nine.
  • Amending the Regulations of the Committees of the Board of Governors to incorporate updates that align the Regulations with current Committee and Board practices.

The Board received informational reports from four standing committees:

The Board received a report from the Joint Board of Governors and Senate Meeting, which focused on life-long learning. The joint meeting was held on Nov. 14.

The Board also received a report from the Finance Committee, from its meeting held on November 20, 2018. As part of the report, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Christopher Manfredi outlined the priorities, necessities, risks and uncertainties that the Committee is taking into consideration as the University begins the budget-planning process for FY2019-2020. This was the first of three reports that the Provost will present to the Board over coming months.

The Board received a report from the Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility (CAMSR). The Committee’s work is to advise the Board on the Senate resolution referred to CAMSR by the Board at its meeting of October 4, 2018. The Committee is undertaking several activities and will make every effort to submit its report to the Board by the final Board meeting of the 2019 calendar year. For more information on the Committee’s activities, please see the CAMSR website.

Mr. Marc Weinstein, Vice-Principal (University Advancement), presented the Annual Report of University Advancement.

Vice-Principal Beauchamp presented the Annual Report on McGill Sustainability and Climate Initiatives.

I presented the report from Senate’s most recent meeting, held on December 5, 2018. The report included the presentation of the Report of the Ad Hoc Senate Committee on Teaching Staff-Student Intimate Relationships. The Board approved two items stemming from Senate:

  • Renaming the Department of Ophthalmology to the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
  • Consolidating the Sustainability Policy and the Environmental Policy into a single, revised Sustainability Policy.

Prof. Robert Leckey, Dean of the Faculty of Law, presented an informative overview of the Faculty’s activities, initiatives and developments.

This was the final Board meeting of the calendar year. The Board will next meet on Feb. 14, 2019. In the meantime, you can always send your questions, ideas or comments to me at

Wishing you a safe and relaxing holiday, and all the best for 2019,


Suzanne Fortier

Principal and Vice-Chancellor


January 7, 2019