Dear members of the McGill community:

On December 12, 2017, McGill’s Board of Governors held its second meeting of the 2017-18 governance year. The full minutes from the open session, and a summary of items dealt with during the closed session, will be available following Board approval in February. (The minutes from the previous meeting, held on October 5, 2017, are now online.) In the meantime, I would like to share with you the meeting’s important discussions, decisions and developments.

I reported on the following:


Respect and inclusion in campus life

To ensure that McGill’s values and principles are upheld, the following initiatives are now in place:

  • Professor Spencer Boudreau is conducting an investigation into allegations of anti-Semitism at the SSMU General Assembly of October 23, 2017. His findings and recommendations will be made public early in 2018.
  • The Principal’s Task Force on Respect and Inclusion in Campus Life is conducting wide-ranging consultations on the downtown and Macdonald campuses. The Task Force will deliver its final report in Spring 2018.
  • Members of our community who have experienced exclusion or discrimination can phone a new dedicated support line (514-398-6199) Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Enrolment statistics: The final numbers for Fall 2017 show a 1.2% increase in our total student body. The geographic mix of our total student body is 50.3% Quebec, 20.3% rest of Canada and 29.4% international. The top five countries of origin for our international students are unchanged from last year, with the U.S. at number one, followed by China, France, India and Saudi Arabia.


Government relations

  • Provincial:
    • Bill 151 was passed early December. It stipulates that every university and CEGEP must have a sexual assault policy in place by September 2019. McGill’s Policy Against Sexual Violence, which was put into place in December 2016, provides for a committee to evaluate support services, monitoring, sensitization and resource needs. In parallel, an ad hoc expert panel is studying sexual violence at McGill. The University will review its policy Against Sexual Violence after these groups complete their work in Spring 2018.
    • On January 17, 2018, the Bureau de coopération interuniversitaire (BCI) will appear at a public hearing concerning the province’s draft legislation on recreational cannabis.
    • Quebec’s Minister of Finance Carlos Leitão’s November 2017 financial update included $107 million in additional funding over the next six years to improve support for university and CEGEP students.
  • Federal: As part of McGill’s ongoing advocacy for investment in fundamental research, I co-hosted, with Jacques Bernier of Teralys Capital, a university-industry regional roundtable organized by the Public Policy Forum on December 11. A national symposium will take place in Ottawa on February 1, 2018.

Community relations

  • The Faculty of Arts’ new Max Bell School of Public Policy will bring together talented faculty and students from around the world to create the next generation of national and global policy leaders. The school was established with a $10-million gift from the Max Bell Foundation. Also contributing to the School is a $1-million gift from the McConnell Foundation and a $2-million gift from an anonymous donor.
  • The BMO Financial Group and the McConnell Foundation have provided funding in the amount of $2.25 million and $1 million, respectively, to the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Montreal.
  • Marc Weinstein, Vice-Principal (University Advancement), and I spent a week in Hong Kong and mainland China where we met with McGill alumni and partners. We were impressed by the loyalty, commitment and generosity of our alumni and friends in the region.

I closed my remarks by highlighting some outstanding achievements:

  • The 2017 Corporate Knights Green Campus Ranking named McGill as the second-greenest campus in Canada. Campuses were evaluated according to initiatives to reduce environmental impact, including green buildings, purchasing and waste management.
  • Students Alexander Lachapelle (Medical Doctorate and Master of Surgery) and Clare Lyle (U3 Joint Honours Math and Computer Science) are McGill’s 143rd and 144th Rhodes scholars.
  • The Government of Canada awarded nine new Canada Research Chairs to McGill researchers, and renewed five existing CRCs. The funding represents a $9.7-million investment in McGill research.
  • Professors Alan Evans, Bernard J. Lapointe and Andréa C. LeBlanc received Senate of Canada 150 medals.

During closed session, the Board approved the reappointment of Dr. Guy Rouleau as Director of the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI). His second five-year term begins January 1, 2018. The Board also received an update on the Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) advisory committee process.

The Board received reports from Senate, the Executive Committee and the Investment Committee, and a report on the Joint Board of Governors and Senate Meeting, held on November 15, 2017.

Yves Beauchamp, Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance), presented the Policy Concerning Smoking at McGill University, which will bring the University into compliance with new rules established by the Government of Quebec. The Policy will, as of May 1, 2018, prohibit smoking on University property outside of designated smoking areas. The Board approved the Policy and, in January, the McGill community will receive details about how it will be implemented.


The Board considered recommendations made by three standing committees:

  • The Finance Committee presented a Policy on Long-term Investment of Funds Resulting from the Implementation of the Deferred Maintenance Financing Plan, as required by the Ministry of Higher Education. The Board approved the policy. The Finance Committee also outlined the priorities, necessities, risks and uncertainties that it is taking into consideration as the University begins the budget-planning process for FY2018-2019.
  • On behalf of the Building and Property Committee, V-P Beauchamp presented a progress report on the Royal Victoria Hospital Redevelopment Project.
  • The key items from the Nominating, Governance and Ethics (NGE) Committee were:
    • The recommendation that Mr. Stephen Halperin be reappointed as a member-at-large of the Board of Governors for a five-year term starting July 1, 2018 and ending June 30, 2023. The Board approved this reappointment.
    • Several appointments to Board standing committees, internal and external non-Board bodies, and health care bodies. The Board approved all appointments.
    • The submission of revisions to the terms of reference of the Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility (CAMSR), following a review of the terms of reference conducted by CAMSR and the NGE Committee. The Board agreed to defer consideration of the revisions to a future meeting.
    • The Recruitment and Succession Planning Subcommittee of the NGE Committee will be initiating a call-for-nominations process that will provide members of the community with an opportunity to submit nominations for member-at-large positions on the Board. The process is expected to start in the winter term.

The Board will next meet on February 15, 2018. I will share key actions and discussions with you shortly thereafter. Summaries of Board meetings from previous years are archived here.

If you have questions, ideas or comments, please write me at I always appreciate hearing your thoughts.



Suzanne Fortier

Principal and Vice-Chancellor


January 9, 2018