Highlights from the April 22, 2021 Board of Governors meeting

Live 2021

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.

McGill’s Board held its fourth meeting of the 2020-2021 governance year on April 22, 2021. The full minutes of the meeting’s open session will be available following approval at the Board’s next meeting, on May 20, 2021. 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@mcgill.ca.

Sincerely,

Suzanne Fortier, Principal and Vice-Chancellor

 

Ram Panda, Chair, McGill Board of Governors

 

Key updates

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 appointment of one Associate Professor with tenure and the promotion of ten individuals to the rank of Full Professor. The McGill Reporter will publish the corresponding names once the candidates have been notified.

The Board also agreed to extend the appointments of Professor Martha Crago, Vice-Principal (Research and Innovation) and Dr. David Eidelman, Vice-Principal (Health Affairs) and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences in their respective roles for one year, from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023. The decision will provide stability in response to the disruptions and developments stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Board of Governors, on the recommendation of the Principal and Vice-Chancellor, and pursuant to the advice of an ad hoc committee established under the Policy Relating to the Naming of University Assets, approved a naming proposal concerning a University asset. The naming of the asset will be announced publicly in due course.

During the open session, on the recommendation of the Building and Property Committee, the Board approved a one-year extension (until April 27, 2022) to the timeline for the sale of Brittain Hall and the land on which it stands to John Abbott College.

On the recommendation of the Finance Committee, the Board approved the University’s budget for FY2021-2022. Based on January 31, 2021 actuals, on financial information collected from units at the end of February, and on historical trends, the University is forecasting a FY2021 deficit estimated at $6.3 million. The Board was advised that for FY2022, there would be continued COVID-driven uncertainty impacting all of the University’s primary revenue sources; the proposed budget for FY2022 forecasts an anticipated unrestricted fund deficit of $9.8 million. The full report from the Finance Committee can be accessed here.

The Board also approved two additional motions, on the recommendation of the Finance Committee. First, the Board approved a maximum borrowing of up to $400 million for the period from June 1, 2021 to May 31, 2022 as required by the Ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur. Second, the Board agreed to establish a short-term line of credit facility with Financement-Québec.

The Board was also provided with the Report of the Committee on Sustainability that outlined the continued monitoring and implementation of the objectives of McGill’s Climate and Sustainability Strategy (2020-2025), including the achievement of zero-waste by 2035 and the 2020 Sustainability Survey results.

Lastly, the Board received the 2020 Report on Socially Responsible Investing (SRI). The full report is available on the Secretariat’s webpage.

Principal’s Remarks

Principal Suzanne Fortier opened her remarks by offering condolences to all those who lost loved ones to the pandemic. Her remarks then outlined key updates on a variety of topics from across the University.

 

Campus update

Since the Board’s last meeting, the Quebec government announced new measures to halt the spread of COVID-19, which came into effect toward the end of the Winter semester.

Planning for an in-person Fall semester has been underway since November. The Emergency Operations Committee is preparing for a spectrum of possibilities with the anticipation that we will be between the most pessimistic and optimistic cases by September. The opportunity to be on-site under safety restrictions seems likely.

 

Government relations

On April 19, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland tabled the federal budget outlining over $101 billion in spending focused on pandemic recovery and long-term economic growth.

Of note, the budget outlines considerable investment in the life sciences (bio-manufacturing, stem cell, genomics) and supports the strategic areas of artificial intelligence and quantum technologies. Significant investments will also be made in students and youth opportunities, as well as in upskilling and reskilling for the workforce. Planned investment in the Canada Foundation for Innovation will also benefit universities.

On March 25, the provincial government tabled its 2021-2022 budget, which outlines $4 billion in spending on universities, a 5.5 per cent increase over last year, and includes $670 million to support student retention in Cégeps and universities.

Minister McCann has announced a new committee on academic freedom, chaired by Alexandre Cloutier, former PQ Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs. Members of universities will be consulted as the committee undertakes its work. McGill is committed to academic freedom and looks forward to contributing to the consultations.

 

External relations

McGill has signed an agreement with University of the People, an online university catering to students facing financial, political or personal constraints. As part of the agreement, McGill will be welcoming students for in-person learning after they have completed two years at the University of the People.

The inaugural cohort of the McCall MacBain Scholars has been announced; the 20 scholars, three of whom are from McGill, will begin their studies at McGill this fall. In all, 735 applications were received from 15 different universities.

 

Community relations

The sixth edition of McGill24 surpassed records thanks to the generosity of all members of the McGill community. A total of $3,810,861 was raised with the Class of 2021 contributing the highest number of donations of any graduating class.

On March 31, McGill kicked off its bicentennial with a virtual food security conference, followed by a one-hour launch celebration hosted by Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and current student Heleena De Oliveira.

The ten finalists have been selected for impact200, McGill’s bicentennial sustainability challenge; winners will be announced in November.

 

Select kudos

The Principal concluded her remarks by congratulating some members of our community who recently earned well-deserved external recognitions.

  • Dr. Nada Jabado (Department of Pediatrics, and RI-MUHC) received the Dr. Chew Wei Memorial Prize in Cancer Research from the University of British Colombia for her work in treating childhood brain cancers.
  • Prof. Valérie Orsat (Department of Bioresource Engineering) was named one of 12 recipients of an ‘Engineering and Physical Sciences’ Suffrage Science award by the London Institute of Medical Sciences.
  • Kasia Juno Van Schaik, a doctoral candidate in McGill’s English Department and creative writing instructor at the McGill Writing Centre, won a writer-in-residence prize from CBC Quebec and the Quebec Writers’ Federation.
  • Several McGill Law students won prizes for Top School, Top Appellant Pair, Top Respondent Pair, and Top Individual Oralist in the Laskin Moot Court Competition.
  • McGill has been recognized as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers by Mediacorp Canada for a fourth consecutive year.
  • PhD students Auriane Canesse and Trevor Cotter made it to the next round of the Three Minute Thesis / Ma thèse en 180 secondes competition and will compete on national level next.

Reports

The Board received reports from the following committees:

 

Professor Martha Crago, Vice-Principal (Research and Innovation), presented the Annual Report on Research Performance and Innovation, which she presented to Senate on April 20, 2021.

 

Other activity

Dr. Carola Weil, Dean of the School of Continuing Studies, presented an informative overview of the School’s teaching, learning and research activities.

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