Principal Suzanne Fortier - Owen Egan croppedDear members of the McGill community:

On February 2, 2017, McGill’s Board of Governors held its third meeting of the 2016-17 governance year. I would like to share with you the meeting’s important discussions, decisions and developments.

I reported on the following:

  • Impact of world events:
    • McGill offers its condolences to the families and friends of the six people killed at a mosque in Quebec City. We are shocked and saddened by this violence, and stand in solidarity with the Muslim community. Any members of the McGill community in need of support are encouraged to seek the University’s counseling services.
    • Due to the U.S. government decision to impose restrictions on entry by citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, I have asked Professor Christopher Manfredi, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic), to establish a small working group to propose measures to support McGill’s students and professors, potential McGill students, and colleagues in the broader academic community who may be affected by the travel ban. Many students, including a group of Law students who are providing legal information to travelers at the Montreal airport, have launched their own initiatives in response to the ban.
  • Government relations: In December, I joined fellow rectors in a meeting with Quebec Ministers Carlos Leitão and Hélène David to discuss university funding. The Provost and I also met with Minister Leitão in January.
  • External relations:
    • World Economic Forum: McGill was again the only Canadian university represented at this annual meeting, held in January in Davos, Switzerland. I participated in two panel sessions, one on automation and the future of jobs and one on the “Pathways to a 1.5 Degree World.” McGill professors Elena Bennett, Andrew Gonzalez, and Graham MacDonald led an IdeasLab session on “Shaping a Sustainable World.”
    • Tanenbaum Open Science Institute: A transformative $20-million gift from the Larry and Judy Tanenbaum Family Foundation will create an open science platform that will share neuroscience data with research institutions around the world in order to accelerate new cures and therapies.
    • Business/Higher Education Round Table: The group continues its discussions on the importance of work-integrated learning opportunities for all students, on post- secondary opportunities for all students, and on R&D partnerships between post-secondary institutions and business. The round table includes leaders from 27 post-secondary institutions and the private sector.
    • Advisory Council on Economic Growth: The council has continued its work and will have another set of recommendations prior to the next federal budget.
    • U15: The winter meeting of executive heads of Canadian research universities included discussions with the federal Ministers of Science and Health, as well as a roundtable with business leaders about university/private sector collaborations.
    • Universities Canada: I will attend Converge 2017, which will bring together students, entrepreneurs, community leaders and university presidents to kick off Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

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

  • Beatrice Yeung, a double major in Molecular and Cellular Biology, has been awarded a 2017 Rhodes Scholarship. She is the third McGill student to earn the honour this year, bringing to 141 the number of McGill Rhodes Scholars since the awards were created in 1902.
  • McGill students Neha Rahman (History and Classics) and Simone Cavanaugh (Law) were chosen from more than 16,000 applicants to join Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 26-member Youth Council, which advises the government on national issues.
  • Desautels Faculty of Management students Aman Aroa, Timothy Lane, Santiago Monroy and Jose Nunez Gutierrez took second place at the international “Business for a Better World” MBA competition.
  • Burlington Member of Parliament Karina Gould (BA’10) was named Minister of Democratic Institutions during January’s federal cabinet shuffle.
  • Prof. Chao-Jun (CJ) Li is among the 40 new fellows of the World Academy of Sciences, an academy of the world’s most accomplished scientists and engineers. Prof. Li is considered one of the pioneers of green chemistry.
  • Seven more McGill alumni have been named to the Order of Canada. Prof. Victoria Kaspi, Director of McGill’s Space Institute, and retired Supreme Court Justice the Hon. Morris Fish were named Companions of the Order of Canada. Lorne Trottier was promoted to Officer of the Order. Katherine Carleton, Michael David Dan, John Parisella and Isaac Schiff were made Members.
  • Professors Peter Grütter (Physics) and Sylvain Williams (Psychiatry) led two of the breakthroughs on Québec Science magazine’s annual list of 10 Discoveries of the Year. McGill researchers contributed to four of the other top 10 discoveries.
  • Mélodie Daoust, Physical & Health Education student and centre for the Martlets hockey team, was named female athlete of the year in the team sports category at the 31st annual Quebec Foundation for Athletic Excellence gala. Daoust was one of 15 McGill students to receive bursaries from the foundation.
  • McGill’s University Advancement team won six awards at the CASE District I Excellence Awards.
  • The 2016 McGill-Centraide campaign surpassed its $500,000 target goal. The McGill community raised $513,493 for agencies that help low-income, socially marginalized and vulnerable populations. Thanks to everyone for their generosity and participation.

The Board approved the following items:

  • The Nominating, Governance and Ethics Committee’s recommendation that Cynthia Price Verreault be appointed as member-at-large for a five-year term starting July 1, 2017.
  • The recruitment of three full professors with tenure, and one associate professor with tenure.

Pierre Barbarie, Director of Campus Public Safety, gave an informative presentation about the roles and responsibilities of McGill’s four public safety units: Security Services, Fire Prevention, Emergency Management & Preparedness, and Parking & Transportation Services.

The Board approved research grant agreements with the following bodies:

The Board received reports from three of its standing committees: Audit, Human Resources and Executive.

Professor Frédéric Bachand (Law) presented a report and response to the three Open Forums held in September 2016 to discuss the CAMSR Report on Divestment. Provost Manfredi presented recommendations stemming from the forums. Dr. Rose Goldstein, Vice-Principal (Research and Innovation), presented the annual report on Research Performance and Innovation. Chris Buddle, Dean of Students, presented the annual report of the Committee on Student Discipline. The reports had been presented at Senate meetings held earlier this academic year.

The Board’s inaugural 20-minute community session was held immediately following the open session. Board Chair Stuart (Kip) Cobbett answered three questions that had been submitted by community members in January; he also answered supplemental questions. The questions and responses are available here.

The Board will next meet on April 27, 2017. I will share key actions and discussions with you shortly thereafter. The full minutes from this meeting’s open session, and a summary of items dealt with during the closed session, will be available following Board approval in April. (The minutes from the previous meeting, held on December 1, 2016, are now online.) 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