Principal Suzanne Fortier - Owen Egan cropped
Photo: Owen Egan

Reporter: You’ve been here for a full academic year now, and when you came here, you talked about how you liked to learn every day. So tell us a little bit about what you’ve learned this year, what has surprised you.

SF: I have learned that people here, even more than I expected, are proud, passionate, committed – and that’s true of everyone, including the students, the staff, the alumni, the friends of McGill. It’s amazing to see that all these people want the best for McGill. And those were the people I talked to when reflecting about McGill’s vision and priorities.

I was talking to some alumni at an event a few months ago, and they said “What is McGill? McGill is a bunch of very smart people doing amazing things and delivering results.” That sums up what I have seen since I arrived.

Reporter: You spoke earlier this year about the vision you have for McGill and you’ve spoken also about how graduates are often asked where they will be in five years. Where do you see McGill in five years?

SF: The vision I have – and I really think it is the vision WE have, because it came from talking to a lot of people on campus – is a McGill that is open, connected and purposeful. I think our identity in the next few years will be even more closely related to these qualities.

Open includes how open we are to different views, to diversity. The richness of our campus is in part a result of the diversity of the students we have. At McGill there has always been a willingness to learn about other cultures, to learn new perspectives and ideas, and that is even truer today. McGill is a place where openness means being able to think about ideas not commonly accepted. It means pushing ourselves to really be at the frontiers, whether it is in research or whether it is in the way we think of ourselves as members of this society – to challenge ourselves. What I have seen in so many places and disciplines at McGill, is the courage to look at new areas of research, new ways of expressing the curriculum in the faculties. That is the Open part.

The Connected part talks to McGill’s connections with the larger community, to be anchored locally and to contribute in many areas and activities globally. The vision is for a McGill that is part of the team.

And Purposeful has to do with the importance of knowledge in our world. The acquisition of knowledge, the use of knowledge, is so important to our society nowadays. What I find wonderful in the world of academia nowadays is that whatever you do in research, even if it is in the very early stages of simply following your curiosity, will have an impact in advancing our knowledge and in changing our world.

Read more in the McGill Reporter.