Dear members of the McGill community:

McGill’s Board of Governors held its first meeting of the 2020-2021 governance year on October 1, 2020. In keeping with public health guidelines, the meeting was held virtually.

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.

The full minutes of the meeting’s open session will be available following approval at the Board’s next meeting, on December 10, 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 closed session, the Board approved, on the recommendation of the Principal and pursuant to the advice of the Advisory Committee, the appointment of Professor Robin Beech as Dean of Students for a five-year term, beginning November 1, 2020 and ending October 31, 2025. We congratulate Prof. Beech on the appointment.

The Board approved a naming proposal that will be made public in the near future.

The Board also approved, in closed session, the Statutory Selection Committee’s recommendation for the promotion of two Associate Professors to the rank of Full Professor, and the appointment of one Contract Academic Staff Full Professor (clinical). The McGill Reporter will publish the names of the new appointments in the near future.

During the open session, on the recommendation of the Building and Property Committee, the Board approved that the University proceed with the following:

On the recommendation of Marc Weinstein, Vice-Principal (University Advancement), the Board approved the revised Gift Acceptance Policy.

On the recommendation of the Senate Nominating Committee, the Board approved the designation of Prof. Inna Sharf (Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering) as the vice-chair of the Committee on Staff Grievances and Disciplinary Procedures, for a term beginning immediately and ending August 31, 2021.

On the recommendation of the Nominating, Governance, and Ethics (NGE) Committee, the Board approved several appointments, or reappointments, to Board standing committees, as well as an appointment to an external non-Board body.

On the recommendation of Yves Beauchamp, Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance), the Board approved the annual standard borrowing resolution from Financement-Québec. The Minister of Higher Education uses this particular mechanism to deliver the annual provincial capital grant to universities.

On the recommendation of the Audit and Risk Committee, the Board approved the following:

Principal’s Remarks

The Principal’s opening remarks provided updates since the last Board meeting in May.

Fall update

Our Fall semester started as scheduled. An estimated 60 per cent of our students are currently in the Montreal area.

Our teaching community has developed robust and high-quality remote learning courses. Many of our traditional Fall events are virtual this year, including: Orientation Week, Homecoming, and Fall Convocation ceremonies. We are also continuing to revise and adapt plans for our Bicentennial celebrations.

Given the current state and possible further developments, Winter 2020 courses will be delivered primarily through remote platforms, but with enhanced in-person teaching activities.

Fall 2020 enrolment

As of the first day of fall classes, total enrolment for Fall 2020 (39,387 students) is comparable to last September (39,471 students). Bachelor’s enrolment is up, as is enrolment in research programs. As may be expected in the current context, we saw decreases in our exchange, inter-university transfer, special, and visiting populations.

The top five citizenships of international students enrolled in credit-seeking programs for Fall 2020 are China, USA, France, India and Iran.

We are actively working with all jurisdictions, as well as with membership organizations and peer universities in Montreal, Quebec and Canada to coordinate our efforts towards lifting border restrictions for international students.

Government Relations


McGill’s submission to this year’s federal pre-budget consultation process made three recommendations to restart Canada’s economy as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Targeted investment in early stages of innovation
  • Investment in universities’ digital infrastructure
  • Creation of a Green Campus Infrastructure and Innovation Fund

Through our national membership organizations, including U-15 and the Business/Higher Education Roundtable, McGill has engaged with senior government officials, including Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains, and senior deputy ministers of Finance and Innovation, Science and Economic Development. Discussions focused on the role of universities in responding to COVID-19 and restarting Canada’s economy.

The Government has provided great support to the University sector to ensure stability through the COVID-19 crisis. Our current FY21 forecast for the operating grant from the Province is very close to that in FY20. We also received good news regarding capital expenditures and deferred maintenance. The allocation to McGill for FY21 is of $170M – an increase of $55M from the previous year. We have seen substantial increases in the last four years. Starting with $43M in FY2018 to $170M in FY21. Provost Manfredi will present the budget planning report at the Board’s December 10, 2020, meeting.

On August 17, executive heads of Quebec universities had a very productive meeting with our new Minister of Higher Education, Danielle McCann, to understand the challenges faced by universities. On August 21, Minister McCann announced a further investment of $375M in universities and colleges directed to student aid (loans and bursaries), teaching resources in COVID-times, and to mental health, as well as support towards our capital expenditures and deferred maintenance.

Public health

University representatives have met with Mylène Drouin, Montreal’s director of public health. We will continue to coordinate closely with public health authorities, and the City of Montreal, to ensure our community’s safety and well-being.

The Programme de l’expérience québécoise (PEQ)

In July, the Quebec government adopted regulations reforming the PEQ. We are continuing to work with the Minister of Higher Education on making Quebec more competitive with other provinces with respect to the recruitment and retention of top talent.

Community relations

In June, the Principal gave a mandate to Provost Manfredi to work in consultation with the community to develop an Anti-Black Racism Action Plan. Principal Fortier shared the Plan with the community on Sept. 30. Work on implementing the Action Plan began immediately and will require an ongoing commitment from all of us in the years to come.

In September, McGill celebrated the grand opening of the Campus Outaouais, which offers the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences’ full range of medical education and training programs in French. Our goal is to create a centre of excellence in health that will attract medical students, residents and experienced clinicians to the region.

University rankings

Over the summer, McGill moved up in several world university rankings, including the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings, the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities, the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR), and the QS World University Rankings.


The Principal concluded her remarks by highlighting some of the members of our community who have recently received well-deserved recognition:

  • Astrophysicist Vicky Kaspi was awarded the Bakerian Medal by the Royal Society of the United Kingdom for her research on neutron stars.
  • The CHIME radio telescope project, of which Professor Kaspi is a principal leader and which includes other astrophysicists from McGill University, won a Governor General’s Innovation Award.
  • The Royal Society of Canada announced 10 McGill inductees, including four new members to the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, and six new Fellows. Four McGill professors also won RSC medals: Alan Greer (History and Classical Studies), Michel Biron (Littératures de langue française, de traduction et de création), Christian Genest (Mathematics & Statistics), and Alfonso Mucci (Earth and Planetary Sciences).
  • Nineteen McGill grad students earned Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships, and eight postdocs received Banting Fellowships.
  • Dr. Alan Evans will co-lead the Helmholtz International Learning Laboratory to advance research in 3D brain modelling.


The Board received the following reports. Click on the links to read the full reports:

Additional activity

Secretary-General Edyta Rogowska gave notice of the annual Joint Board-Senate meeting, which will be held on November 12, 2020. This year’s theme will be “Pandemic Planning and Preparedness: Local Impact of Global Health Crises.”

A community session had been planned for this meeting but no questions were submitted.