Suzanne FortierDear members of the McGill community:

McGill’s Board of Governors convened on Thursday, April 21, 2016, for their fifth meeting of 2015-16. Here are the important discussions, decisions and developments from that meeting.

During the closed session, the Board approved the appointment of Robert Leckey as Dean of the Faculty of Law. Professor Leckey is currently the director of McGill’s Paul-André Crépeau Centre for Private and Comparative Law. He begins his term as Dean on July 1, 2016. Please join me in congratulating Professor Leckey on his appointment.

I am pleased to report that the Board approved the recommendations of the Statutory Selection Committee to promote 10 associate professors. Congratulations to these new full professors on this recognition of excellence in their teaching, research and scholarly activities.

My remarks in the open session addressed the following topics:

  • Royal Victoria Hospital feasibility study progress report: The management structure has been established and the project management team has prepared a timeline, including a list of deliverables. An architectural team is expected to be in place by June 1, 2016. We hope to submit the results of the study to the Quebec government in Fall 2017; the government and the University will have until the end of 2017 to decide whether to proceed to the next phase.
  • External relations:
    • McGill has accepted the World Economic Forum’s invitation to join the Global University Leaders Forum, a community of 26 top world universities that offers a non-competitive platform for high-level dialogue on higher education and research.
    • Last week, I participated in two important conversations about Canada’s future:
      • The World Economic Forum’s meeting about “Canada’s Economic Vision for Tomorrow.”
      • The first in-person meeting of the Business-Higher Education Roundtable, which is focusing its initial actions on work-integrated learning and facilitating new graduates’ transitions into the workforce, and on seeking more, and developing existing, university-private sector research partnerships.
  • Alumni relations:
    • In April, Marc Weinstein, Vice-Principal (University Advancement), and I travelled to Hong Kong to attend meetings and events with McGill alumni, supporters, partners and representatives of the Canadian government.
    • Thank you to all those who participated in McGill 24 on March 16. The University’s first-ever day of giving engaged graduates both online and in events held around the world as well as offering “hot spots” to students on campus.

I closed my remarks by congratulating some members of the McGill community for their recent outstanding achievements:

  • Isabelle Daunais (Département de langue et littérature françaises and Canada Research Chair in the Esthetics and Art of the Novel) is the recipient of the prestigious Killam Prize for the Humanities. Three of this year’s six Killam Research Fellowships were awarded to McGill professors: Charles Gale (Physics), Andrew Gonzalez (Biology) and Stephen McAdams (Schulich School of Music).
  • A team led by Jake Barralet (Department of Surgery and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre) will receive $1.65 million from NSERC to provide nearly 90 students with cross-disciplinary training to prepare them for high-skill jobs in the surgical devices industry.
  • The sixth annual McGill Catalyst Awards for Sustainability recognized students, staff, and faculty for their meaningful and enduring contributions to sustainability on campus.
  • Professor Daniel Wise (Department of Mathematics) received a U.S. Guggenheim Fellowship, one of only two awarded to a Canadian this year.
  • Bachelor of Commerce student teams from the Desautels Faculty of Management took first and second place in the National Investment Banking Competition, one of North America’s top financial case competitions.

Professor Andrew Piper, interim director of the McGill Digital Humanities initiative, gave a fascinating presentation about how network science, machine learning and image processing are being used to think about language, literature and culture.

The Board approved the University’s budget for FY2016-2017. The Provost reported that the forecast is better than expected; although there is a projected deficit for the next fiscal year, the long-term projections show a break-even budget by FY2019. This was Professor Christopher Manfredi’s first budget as Provost and I would like to thank him and his team for continuing the excellence stewardship of the University’s resources in support of its academic mission. The FY2016-2017 budget presentation is available online. The full budget book, once finalized, will be posted on the Provost’s website.

The Board approved the Building and Property Committee’s recommendation of priority projects that are eligible for the new federal Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund (SIF). The University will make its submission to SIF in early May.

Following on last week’s Senate meeting, the Board has approved its representatives for upcoming advisory committees for the selection of a new Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance) and a new Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations). Information about public consultation will be posted on the advisory committees website.

The Board also received reports from the Human Resources, Investment, and Executive committees.

The Joint Senate-Steering & Executive Committee announced the topic of the 2016-2017 Joint Board-Senate meeting: “McGill’s Sustainability Plans and Initiatives.” The meeting will be held on November 10, 2016. I will establish a working group to prepare for this session.

The Board, on the recommendation of Senate, approved the proposed Statement of Academic Freedom. This statement is the University’s first formal expression of its longstanding, deep commitment to academic freedom.

I will share key actions and discussions from the Board’s next meeting, the last of 2015-2016, which will be held on May 16, 2016. The full minutes from the previous regular meeting, held on February 11, plus a summary of items dealt with during that meeting’s closed session, will be posted online soon; the minutes from this week’s meeting will be available following approval by the Board in May.

I welcome your thoughts, ideas and questions. You can always contact me at


Suzanne Fortier

Principal and Vice-Chancellor

April 29, 2016