Highlights from the November 26, 2015, Board of Governors meeting

Live 2015

Suzanne FortierDear members of the McGill community:

On November 26, 2015, McGill’s Board of Governors held its second meeting of the 2015-16 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 8, 2015, are now online.) In the meantime, I would like to share with you the meeting’s important discussions, decisions and developments.

I opened my remarks by reminding the Board of the process we followed to support and reach out to members of our community who were touched by recent tragic events worldwide.

I reported on the following:

  • Government relations: We look forward to working closely with Prime Minister Trudeau’s cabinet. The creation of a new Minister of Science position is of particular interest to McGill and other research-intensive universities.
  • Rankings: This year’s major university rankings have all been announced. McGill held its own or improved, including being named Canada’s #1 medical doctoral university for the 11th year running. As I have said before, university rankings are not an exact science; methodologies differ from ranking to ranking, sometimes from year to year. However, McGill’s consistently good performance across all these different ranking methodologies speaks volumes about our community’s talents and dedication.
  • Ratings: Standard & Poor’s affirmed their AA- stand-alone credit rating for McGill. This reflects their opinion of the University’s excellent student demand and research profile, plus our good, albeit pressured, government support.
  • Community engagement:
    • For the seventh year, the Royal Canadian Legion held its official Montreal Remembrance Day ceremony on lower field. I was honored to lay a wreath with Frederick “Tex” Dawson, a veteran of the Second World War and McGill architecture alumnus.
    • A pilot project to combine Homecoming with Open House was a success. From October 22-25, more than 3,500 alumni and their families, and close to 6,000 prospective students and their parents, visited our campuses.
    • External relations:
      • In October, I attended the annual fall meetings of Universities Canada and the U15 group of Canadian research universities. Prime Minister Trudeau came to the Universities Canada reception and spoke of his appreciation for the contributions of universities to our country.
      • In November, I participated in a Universities Canada roundtable dialogue, about science and research policy, with the president of the German Research Foundation. Several senior university, public sector and research leaders from across Canada attended the event.

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

  • Kazumi Fraser Hoshino-Macdonald, an international development studies honor student, was named a Rhodes Scholar. He is the 139th McGill student to earn this prestigious honour.
  • A group of first-year students are tutoring Syrian refugees via Skype. The Syrian students are currently living in Turkey and hope to study at a Canadian university. The initiative is part of the McGill Living-Learning Community program.
  • The Redmen baseball team and the Redmen lacrosse team both won national championships.
  • The McGill Symphony Orchestra performed at Toronto’s Koerner Hall on November 17, in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the naming of the Schulich School of Music. I had the pleasure of attending this terrific event.
  • Henry Mintzberg, Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies in the Desautels Faculty of Management, earned a Lifetime Achievement Award from Thinkers50, a global ranking of management thinkers.

Professor Marcelo Wanderley gave a fascinating presentation about the interdisciplinary research into music and technology that is being done at CIRMMT in the Schulich School of Music.

I presented the University’s annual scorecard of key performance indicators. The timing of the KPI report, which was previously presented in May of each year, has been realigned to follow the academic year. Following changes in government reporting requirements, we have revised the KPIs to more clearly represent our performance in priority areas linked to our mission.

The Board received reports from seven standing committees, and approved the committees’ recommendations, which included:

  • The Building and Property Committee recommended that the University enter into a new lease agreement that would allow for the Steinberg Centre for Simulation and Interactive Learning to add new training areas and expand its community engagement activities.
  • The Investment Committee recommended the revision and integration of two policy documents into a single Statement of Investment Policy.
  • The Nominating, Governance and Ethics Committee recommended a number of appointments to Board Standing Committees and reported on other appointments to various internal and external bodies.
  • The Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility (CAMSR) reported on its meetings with Divest McGill on October 22 and November 11, 2015. CAMSR has decided not to recommend an immediate freeze on further fossil fuel investments at this time.
  • The Finance Committee outlined the priorities, necessities, risks and uncertainties that it is taking into consideration as it begins the budget-planning process for FY2016-2017.
  • Human Resources presented the annual Safety Report. HR also reported on the rate renewal for the employee benefit plan; more information will be forthcoming later this month.
  • The Executive Committee reported on its meeting of October 30, 2015, which saw the approval of the promotion of 12 academic staff to the rank of Full Professor, and appointments to the Intellectual Property Appeals Committee and the Committee on Staff Grievances and Disciplinary Procedures. At the same meeting, the Executive Committee received the 2014-2015 Report on the Investigation of Research Misconduct, in accordance with the terms of reference of the Regulations Concerning the Investigation of Research Misconduct.

The Board approved an interinstitutional infrastructure agreement that will link genomic sequencing platforms at McGill, the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia, to create a national genomic tools research network. This project, Canada’s Genomics Enterprise (CGEn), has received $58.4-million from Canada’s Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

As recommended by Senate, the Board approved proposed revisions to the Policy on Safe Disclosure. The revisions seek to boost the visibility and accessibility of the Policy.

The Board will next meet on February 11, 2016. 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 suzanne.fortier@mcgill.ca. I always appreciate hearing your thoughts.

Sincerely,

Suzanne Fortier
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

December 4, 2015

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