Commentary  Defending diversity, excellence, community engagement

I write in response to concerns raised in Slawomir Poplawski’s article (“Town halls a sham unless backed by more than rhetoric,” Commentary, January 27) about the call for submissions for the Principal’s Task Force on Diversity, Excellence, and Community Engagement.

Twenty-five talented members of the McGill community have undertaken to work with the principal to consider how McGill might better fulfil its academic mission by becoming a more inclusive community, by enhancing excellence in all that we do, and by building stronger relationships with the communities we serve.

The terms of reference for the task force require that members will obtain input from the McGill community through a call for submissions. The call for submissions was posted to the principal’s English and French web sites by October 23, 2009, and, as set out below, has since been extensively publicized.

The principal invited submissions at meetings of Senate and of the board of governors, and submissions were solicited by letter from some 200 members of the community whose position or academic activities have provided an opportunity to reflect on aspects of the task force mandate.

In addition, the secretariat to the task force worked with the Office of Public Affairs to bring the call for submissions to the attention of the community more broadly. Together, we decided on the following steps to publicize the call for submissions:
• featuring it on the home page of the McGill web site as one of the items that come up on a rotating basis when our home page is opened;
• purchasing ads in each of the student papers during the month of November, and posting an electronic ad on The Daily’s web site, directing readers to the call for submissions;
• publishing an article on the Principal’s Task Force in The McGill Reporter in November, with a link to the call for submissions web site;
• sending an Alnote message to all students in January, advising them that submissions would be accepted until January 31; and

• including an item in What’s New @ McGill, delivered to the inboxes of all McGill staff, in each of the months of November, December, and January, with a link to the call for submissions.

The Principal’s Task Force on Diversity, Excellence, and Community Engagement has now received 50 submissions.

We have agreed to all requests to submit beyond the deadline date. Indeed we would not refuse a submission from a member of the McGill community whenever it is received. Of course, the later a submission, the less impact it is likely to have on the deliberations of the task force, so we have therefore worked to bring submissions in as early as possible.

I invite members of the McGill community seeking information about the Principal’s Task Force on Diversity, Excellence, and Community Engagement to communicate with me directly.

Victoria Meikle is the senior policy advisor and secretary to the Principal’s Task Force on Diversity, Excellence, and Community Engagement. Send your ideas to