Dear members of the McGill community,

It is once again our pleasure to provide you with an update on the recent activities of McGill’s Board of Governors. You can learn more about the Board’s mandate and membership on its website.

McGill’s Board held its second meeting of the 2019-2020 governance year on December 5, 2019. The full minutes of the meeting’s open session will be available following approval at the Board’s next meeting, on February 13, 2020. In the meantime, we would like to share with you the meeting’s important discussions, decisions and developments.

Thank you for your interest in the work of the Board of Governors. If you have any questions, ideas or comments, please write



Suzanne Fortier, Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Ram Panda, Chair, McGill Board of Governors


Key decisions / Décisions clés

During the meeting’s closed session, the Board approved the reappointment of three deans for a second five-year term ending on June 30, 2025: Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou as Dean of the Desautels Faculty of Management, Anja Geitmann as Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and Bruce Lennox as Dean of the Faculty of Science.

The Board also approved:

  • The appointment of one member of the academic staff to the rank of Full Professor with tenure; and
  • The appointment of three members of the academic staff to the rank of Full Professor.

The McGill Reporter will publish the names of the new appointments once the candidates have been notified.

On the recommendation of the Nominating, Governance and Ethics Committee, the Board approved the appointment of Mr. Fred Headon as a member-at-large of McGill’s Board of Governor for a term of up to five years. Mr. Headon has been serving on the Board of Governors’ Human Resources Committee since 2014, and as its Chair since 2017. A McGill graduate (BCL, LLB), Mr. Headon is the Assistant General Counsel, Labour and Employment Law at Air Canada.

The Board also approved the extension of the term of Mr. Claude Généreux as member-at-large of the Board for up to three years, and as Vice-Chair for up to two years. Mr. Généreux serves as Co-Chair of McGill’s fundraising campaign for the third century.

During open session, the Board further approved:

  • the appointment of Governor Martine Turcotte to the rank of Governor Emerita, commencing July 1, 2020. The rank of Governor Emeritus/a is awarded to a person who has served the University as a Governor with exceptional distinction for a period of not less than ten years; and
  • appointments to its standing committees, internal and external non-board bodies, and Healthcare bodies.

In line with the University’s commitment to achieve the highest possible standards of sustainability on its campuses and the Board’s expanded stewardship role in relation to sustainability, the Board approved the establishment of the Sustainability Committee as a standing committee of the Board. This Committee will assist the Board in setting and achieving institutional priorities and goals, and in monitoring progress in the area of sustainability. It is the Board’s tenth standing committee.

The Board approved the following new policies and policy revisions:

  • On the recommendation of the Finance Committee, the Funding Policy of the McGill University Pension Plan. The new policy is available here.
  • On the recommendation of Senate, revisions to the Policy Relating to the Naming of University Assets. The revised Policy is available here.
  • Revisions to the Gift-in-Kind Policy. The revised Policy is available here.

Finally, on the recommendation of the Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility (CAMSR), the Board, at its meeting of December 5, 2019, approved all of the recommendations included in the CAMSR Report, as follows:
1. Decarbonization

Reduce the overall carbon emissions of the endowment portfolio by a percentage to be set against a determined reference index or benchmark.

This percentage should be commensurate with McGill’s ambition to be a leader in sustainability, while having due regard to the portfolio’s risk and return objectives and the Statement of Investment Policy’s goal to provide a dependable and optimal source of income for endowment beneficiaries and to cover the annual operating costs of the McGill Investment Pool (“MIP”).

This commitment will involve a reduction of exposure to the highest carbon intensive companies in the portfolio, including some within the fossil fuel industry. CAMSR notes that a carbon footprint target needs to be supported by an analysis that will help to establish metrics and a timeline, according to which progress will be measured. CAMSR, in collaboration with the Investment Committee, will work on this analysis and develop a plan (including the proposed target, metrics, and timeline) for the overall commitment in regard to the carbon emission of the portfolio, which will be presented to the Board by its meeting of April 2020.

2. Impact Investment

Invest in low-carbon funds and funds that contribute to decarbonization (impact investments) of the MIP and set global allocation objectives, which may include the following asset classes:

  • Fixed income (ex: green bonds)
  • Private investments (ex: new clean technologies in auto parts, solar equipment, light fixtures)
  • Real assets [renewable energy infrastructure (ex: wind, solar, hydro, waste, bioenergy)]

3. Screening

Increase the amounts invested in the fossil-fuel-free fund (established in 2017 with a $5 million commitment) and promote it among the donor community.

4. Engagement

Exercise, to the extent possible, active stewardship through investor engagement opportunities with investment managers.

5. ESG Integration

Review the Statement of Investment Policy of the MIP to reflect Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) goals and objectives, including amending the Investment Objective section to consider ESG commitments.

6. Annual Reporting

Present to the Board and publish, annually, a report on socially responsible investing (“SRI”), including:

  • % of assets managed by managers with an ESG policy and/or as signatories of the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (“UNPRI”)
  • MIP carbon emission absolute and relative measures
  • Impact investment exposures
  • Such other initiatives as may be relevant to SRI activities

7. SRI Review

Taking into account the evolving field of SRI, the Board has committed to reviewing the current SRI practices on a five-year basis in order to determine the need for any adjustments or further SRI actions, as may be advisable, in relation to the University’s endowment fund.

8. Institutional Leadership

The University, in line with its mission, will take a leadership role to evaluate and promote, in collaboration with peer (U15) universities, policies and best practices in the area of SRI.

The full report is available here. A further report, which will include a plan to operationalize the recommended courses of action, will be presented to the Board by its April 2020 meeting.


Principal’s Remarks / Remarques de la principale

Final Fall 2019 enrolment

The final enrolment numbers for Fall 2019 show a 0.3% increase in our total student body this year, including a significant increase of almost 19% in students recruited from CEGEP. The geographic mix of our student body is similar to last year’s distribution, with 48% Quebec, 20% rest of Canada, and 32% international, the highest proportion coming from China, followed by the United States, France, India and Iran.

Government relations

On November 20, 2019, the Trudeau government appointed its new cabinet, which includes several members of the McGill community. We look forward to collaborating with the new and returning members of cabinet. Members of the Canadian science community have raised concerns about the loss of a minister dedicated to science. There will be more clarity on the relative priority of science in this government when ministerial mandate letters become available.

The President of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, Deputy Minister Manon Brassard, recently visited our campus. The discussions addressed McGill’s role in the innovation ecosystem, the New Vic Project, and a presentation of the Bensadoun School of Retail Management.

On November 19, the Principal took part in a U15 executive committee meeting, which provided an opportunity to meet with members of the federal public service to discuss Canadian universities’ contributions to economic and social development.

On the provincial side, the Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie, Nadine Girault, released Quebec’s vision for international policy. We were pleased to note that the government’s priorities in this sector include the recruitment of more international students.

After considerable public pressure from universities and the business community, the Quebec government has temporarily suspended proposed changes to the Programme de l’expérience québécoise (PEQ). McGill will continue to monitor this file closely and collaborate with other universities to ensure that any future changes meet the needs of Quebec and its universities.

We continue to monitor developments in relation to Bill 37, which aims to centralise procurement services for government and for organizations in the health and education sectors, and are working closely with the Bureau de coopération interuniversitaire to determine next steps.

External and Community relations

At the beginning of November, the Principal participated in the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of the Global Future Councils in Dubai in her capacity as co-chair of the Global Future Council on the New Education and Work Agenda. The Council explored questions pertaining to the drivers of social mobility in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the role of business and government and whether they need to be reoriented towards a new social contract. She was joined by two McGill researchers.

Thanks to a generous donation from the Doggone Foundation, the Ingram School of Nursing is creating the province’s first online Bachelor of Nursing program. This new bilingual program will help meet the evolving health needs of an aging Quebec population, by making higher education in nursing more accessible.

Julia Lovell won the Cundhill History Prize for her book Maoism: A Global History. The prize was announced at a gala event held at the Musée des beaux-arts on November 14.

The 9th edition of C2 Montreal will be held on our downtown campus from May 27 to 29, 2020. One week later, Movin’ On Summit, the global sustainable mobility event, will also be held at McGill.

Finally, the Principal invited Board members to join her in a ceremony held on December 6 on the downtown campus to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the École Polytechnique shooting of 14 women.

Senior Administration

The Principal congratulated Chris Buddle on his appointment as Associate Provost (Teaching and Academic Programs), effective January 1, 2020. Glenn Zabowski, who has served as Associate Dean of Students since 2013, will assume the role of Interim Dean of Students.


The Principal closed her remarks by congratulating members of our community who recently earned well-deserved external recognition:

  • Dr. Gerald Batist, Director of the Segal Cancer Centre and Deputy Director of the Lady Davis Institute at the Jewish General Hospital, received the 2019 Award for Exceptional Leadership in Cancer Research from the Canadian Cancer Research Alliance.
  • Professors Daryl Haggard and Simon Caron-Huot of the Department of Physics have been honoured by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation for their contribution to the field of Physics.
  • McGill Law Professor François Crépeau, Dr. Hanna Pappius from the MNI, and McGill alumnus William Shatner were invested into the Order of Canada, as an Officer, Member and Companion, respectively. Four McGill graduates were inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame as members of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic women’s hockey team. The team won gold on home ice, earning Canada its third consecutive hockey gold medal.
  • A team of five undergraduate Architecture students has won the top prize in the Canadian Centre for Architecture Interuniversity Charrette. The McGill team won first place out of 40 submissions for their concept “Escaping Isolation in the Vertical City.”
  • In collaboration with RBC Future Launch and The Globe and Mail, the Desautels Faculty of Management is spearheading “Personal Finance Essentials”, a new initiative to make personal financial literacy education accessible to all Canadians. “

Progress reports and presentations / Rapports d’étape et présentations

In addition to the CAMSR report mentioned above, two of the Board’s ten standing committees presented reports. Click on the links to read the full reports:

  • Report of the Nominating, Governance and Ethics Committee.
  • Report of the Finance Committee : Budget Planning 2020 – 2021: Report I


Diana Dutton, Associate Vice-Principal of Human Resources, and Johanne Houle, Director of Organizational Development, gave a presentation on the My Healthy Workplace Initiative, which lays the foundation for McGill to become a healthy, safe and productive environment for employees.