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. Further to the Quebec government’s announcement of the suspension of teaching activities and all non-essential activities in light of COVID-19 on March 13, 2020, McGill’s Board of Governors held its fifth and final meeting of the 2019-2020 governance year virtually on May 21, 2020. The full minutes of the meeting’s open session will be available following approval at the Board’s next meeting, on October 1, 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 and McCall MacBain Professor

Ram Panda, Chair, McGill Board of Governors


Key decisions

During the meeting’s closed session, as per the Regulations Relating to the Employment of Tenure Track and Tenured Academic Staff, the Board approved:

  • The granting of tenure to nine professors;
  • The promotion of 48 members of the academic staff to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure; and
  • The promotion of seven members of the academic staff to the rank of Full Professor.

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

During the closed session, on the recommendation of the Nominating, Governance, and Ethics Committee, the Board also approved a one-year extension, from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022, of the terms of two members-at-large on the Board of Governors: Mr. Peter Coughlin and Mr. Sam Minzberg. To coincide with the extension of their terms as members-at-large, Mr. Coughlin’s terms as member of the Executive Committee, and member and Chair of the Building and Property Committee, were also extended for one year, from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022 as were Mr. Minzberg’s terms as member of the Executive Committee, member and Chair on the Nominating, Governance and Ethics Committee, and member and Vice-Chair of the Investment Committee. This decision was made in order to ensure continuity of leadership within the University’s governance bodies in light of the evolving situation concerning COVID-19.

The Board also approved, on the recommendation of the Vice-Principal Research and Innovation, the funding agreement between the Royal Institution of the Advancement of Leaning/McGill University and the Public Health Agency of Canada, valued at up to $7 million, in support of the BQC19 (Biobanque québécoise de la COVID-19), a Quebec-wide biobank whose mission is to enable high-quality COVID-19-related research in partnership with five universities and 11 hospital sites.

In open session, the Board approved the following policies arising from the Report of the Information Technology Committee:

  • A new Policy on Enterprise Data Governance; and
  • A revised Policy on the Responsible use of McGill IT Resources

The Board endorsed the 2020-2025 IT Services Strategic Plan and five-year roadmap to advancing learning, teaching and research through innovative technological solutions.
Principal’s Remarks

Update on COVID-19

It has now been two months since COVID-19 has changed almost every aspect of our lives. Through it all, the McGill campus community has shown extraordinary resilience and strength.

We are evolving from a “sprint mode” to a “marathon” as we will continue to have to adapt to the way we learn, work and conduct research for what will likely be a long period of time.

Over the last weeks, the Provost has hosted several Town Hall meetings to engage the community in the next phase of preparing, especially for the upcoming Fall 2020 semester.

Fall Semester

We announced last week that we will offer our Fall courses primarily through remote delivery platforms. We are committed to delivering robust and high-quality teaching as per the regular Fall schedule.

This decision is in line with those of other Canadian universities and colleges. We will continue to monitor the evolution of the situation, and we will examine the possibility of on-campus teaching and learning activities should health restrictions on social gatherings be relaxed.

On-campus research

Although most McGill colleagues will continue to work remotely, the Quebec government is allowing the gradual return of research activities in the fields of health, natural sciences, agriculture, forestry, engineering, and seasonal exterior activities as well as activities in all other research sectors directly related to the collective effort to relaunch the economy. We will do so carefully and slowly, following all public health guidelines.

The Emergency Operations Centre, along with the Research Planning Group, is coordinating the research phase-in with individual Faculties in determining access to labs. We are also starting to look at other potential resumption of selected activities on campus. This too will entail a slow and careful approach, subject to public health recommendations.

Government relations

Despite the pandemic, we remain in constant contact with the provincial and federal governments.

Over the last weeks, we have had very encouraging meetings with Ministers and senior officials at the federal level, as well as with our Minister of Education and Higher Education in Quebec, Jean-François Roberge.

In terms of international students, we continue to work with the federal and provincial governments to find ways to sort out immigration hurdles.


Last week, the Prime Minister announced an additional $450M to support the university research ecosystem including wage supports for industry and philanthropically funded researchers, support to maintain essential research-related activities during the crisis, and funds to ramp back up to full research operations once physical distancing measures are lifted.


The Higher Education sector in Quebec is seen as having worked hard to ensure the safety of our community, but also allow students to complete the academic year. The provincial budget is being reviewed, but we have had very positive signals from the Minister of Higher Education and the Minister of Finance about what we will see in budget update for 2020-21 expected in late June.


On the sustainability side, François Miller was appointed as McGill’s first Executive Director of Sustainability. McGill also won the International Sustainable Campus Network award for our Vision 2020 action plan.

BA student Neha Rahman, and two alumni, were named recipients of the Gates Cambridge Scholarships.

McGill’s Equity and Community Building Awards ceremony did not take place in person this spring, but there still are winners to be celebrated. In the student category, Elena Lin who is the co-director of the McGill Student Chapter of Scientista, an organization that promotes women and underrepresented groups in STEM, and our Graduate Engineering Equity Committee for the Team category.

Following a call to action from the Minister of Health and the Minister of Education, over 900 McGill students have volunteered to work in Québec’s long-term care facilities, including our Super Bowl champion Laurent Duvernay-Tardif who is currently putting his McGill medical degree to good use by volunteering in a South Shore long-term care facility and our Olympian figure skater Joannie Rochette, also a recent McGill medical grad, who is working at a long-term care home in Quebec.

Update on Academic Year 2020-2021 enrolment

The Principal called on Provost Christopher Manfredi to provide an update on enrolment for the 2020-2021 year.

The vast majority of our students – new and returning – have indicated an intention to join us in the fall. Enrolment Services, together with Faculty representatives, have developed engagement plans to ensure we connect with as many students as we are able.


The Board received a report from Senate‘s May 13, 2020, meeting. The report includes Senate’s approval of the Guidelines Regarding the Setting of the University Calendar of Academic Dates, which would allow the Fall term to begin before Labour Day, and in the month of August, in order to accommodate a potential Fall Reading Break.

The Board received reports from the following committees:

The Board received the following annual reports: