News  Search for new principal under way

Advisory board includes one undergraduate student

McGill announced last spring that the process of finding a replacement for Principal and Vice-Chancellor Heather Munroe-Blum, following the completion of her second five-year term on June 30, 2013, was underway.

A 14-person advisory committee has been formed to narrow down the pool of replacement candidates. The final candidate pool will be put before the Board of Governors (BoG), who will have the final say regarding the appointment.

The University has also retained the consulting services of international headhunting firm Odgers Berndtson.

According to Advisory Board and BoG Chair Stuart Cobbett, the pool of potential candidates is a broad one.

“Anybody who is qualified is being considered. We’re going to find the best candidate, whether they come from inside, outside McGill, in Canada, outside Canada,” he told The Daily.

The committee has already started considering candidates, but a decision will not be made – or released – until sometime this winter, he said.

The advisory committee is comprised of four current BoG members, two alumni appointees, two Senate appointees, two McGill Association of University Teachers (MAUT) appointees, two elected members of the administration and support staff, one undergraduate student representative, and one post-graduate student representative.

According to Stuart, “the opinion of each member of the committee is equal to another member of the committee. If you want to put it that way, one person one vote.”

However, he added that consensus – and not necessarily unanimity – would be sufficient to send a candidate to the BoG for consideration.

SSMU VP University Affairs Haley Dinel is the only undergraduate student on the advisory board. Dinel admitted that representing the interest of over 22,000 undergraduates is no easy task, but explained that these advisory boards are created according to the statutes of the University and are very difficult to adjust.

Dinel also pointed out that the advisory committee solicited student feedback online, and several public consultations were open to the public and publicized to the university-wide community.

Consultations were held “before the end of school term – we deliberately wanted to have the consultations before everybody disappeared for the summer,” according to Stuart.

Consultations officially began on May 1, the day after the winter term officially ended.

Despite this, Dinel said that the board spoke to “literally hundreds of students and professors to hear what they wanted in the new principal.”

Regarding undergraduate representation on the advisory board, Dinel also commented that the principal’s portfolio is chiefly concerned with fundraising, and not student affairs.

“The principal doesn’t spend much time dealing with students, it’s not their primary duty,” she said.

For Dinel, it will be imperative that the new principal be politically aware. “It must be someone who speaks French and who can understand the Quebecois and Canadian context… someone who has political allies. And especially considering the events of the past year, government relations are super important.”

A search is also currently underway for a new Dean of Students and Deputy Provost.

—with files from Lola Duffort

For the full candidate prospectus released by the University, go to http://www.mcgill.ca/secretariat/advisory/principal