McGill receives $200 million to fund graduate scholarships

On Feb. 14, the McGill University Board of Governors (BoG) announced the new McCall MacBain Scholarship and discussed the Strategic Research Plan, sexual violence policy revisions, and the annual report of the Committee on Student Discipline. The BoG also approved motions that were previously approved by Senate, such as the creation of an Institute of Health Sciences Education within the Faculty of Medicine and the renaming of the Département de langues et littératures françaises to the Département des littératures de langue française, de traduction et de création.

McCall MacBain Scholarship

In honour of McGill’s upcoming bicentennial celebration, John McCall MacBain and Marcy McCall MacBain, both McGill alumni, donated $200 million to McGill to establish a new scholarship to support graduate students. This is the single largest gift to any university in Canadian history.

“We are investing a lot of money […] in selection,” J. McCall MacBain said. “Going around and trying to find those hidden jewels around Canada […] and around the world to come to McGill.”

Applications for the new McCall MacBain Scholarship will open in Winter 2020, with the inaugural scholars set to arrive in Fall 2021. The scholarship aims to support a network of up to 75 students per year.

Sexual violence policy revisions

Although McGill has had a sexual violence policy since Dec. 2016, the university missed the provincial government’s Jan. 1 deadline to update its policy. This deadline was set as part of Quebec’s Bill 151, an act to prevent and fight sexual violence at higher education institutions, which required institutions to create or update their policies with new regulations.

“Since we established our own policy in 2016, […] the provincial government […] introduced legislation so that each institution [should] have a policy on sexual violence, and they had some elements that they were putting in their legislation that we would have to add in our own policy,” Principal and Vice-Chancellor Suzanne Fortier said. “[The revised McGill Policy] is actually going to be presented at Senate in our next meeting next week.”

Senate will vote on the revised sexual violence policy at their next meeting on Feb. 20.

Strategic Research Plan

Martha Crago, Vice-Principal (Research and Innovation), presented McGill’s latest revised Strategic Research Plan (SRP). The SRP outlines McGill’s strategy and vision for increasing research over the next five years and was last ratified in 2013. It underwent a multi-level consultation period from Mar. to Nov. 2018 and was endorsed at Senate.

“Every university in Canada needs an SRP. We’ve had one for quite a while, [and] this is the latest version,” Crago said.

The SRP contains five core commitments to research, including a new one dedicated to promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion. Additionally, the SRP highlights seven Research Excellence Themes, with two new ones focusing on technology in the digital age and sustainability innovations. Lastly, the SRP presents four strategic objectives for materializing the university’s vision which relate to strengthening innovation, collaboration, and diversity.

Report of the Committee on Student Discipline

Dean of Students Christopher Buddle presented the annual report of the Committee on Student Discipline, which dictates university policy relating to the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures. According to Buddle, the university needs more staff trained to handle academic offence accusations.

“We had a similar number of cases as we’ve had other years, [and] we have more academic offences reported than non-academic offences,” Buddle said. “Of the academic offences, typically about a third or so of those end up being exonerations [….] This is actually an important point because it means that professors aren’t actually always the right people to be making [accusations of an academic offence]. In fact, we need trained disciplinary officers to oversee that process.”

According to the report, plagiarism is the most prevalent academic offence, comprising 72 per cent of cases, followed by cheating. For non-academic offences, the most common ones fall under article 10 of the code, ‘Physical Abuses, Harassment, and Dangerous Activity.’

The BoG will meet again on Apr. 25.

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