On November 26, McGill’s Board of Governors (BoG) convened to listen to a report from its Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility (CAMSR) and to consider the University’s alleged violation of provincial Bill 100. The BoG also discussed the reformatting of the university’s annual Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and the state of philanthropic donations to the university.
CAMSR denies Divest McGill’s request
BoG Chair Stuart “Kip” Cobbett reported on CAMSR’s deliberations on Divest McGill’s demand for a freeze on fossil fuel investments, and informed the BoG that CAMSR would not be able to recommend fulfilling this demand.
Nevertheless, Cobbett said that he “would like to congratulate Divest McGill for their respectful attitude.”
Members of Divest McGill were present at the meeting, and responded to Cobbett’s report by offering the BoG a large fake check worth $43 million. According to an analysis of McGill’s investments by environmental groups Corporate Knights, 350.org, and South Pole Group, this is approximately the amount that the university could have saved by divesting from the fossil fuel industry.
Marius Karolinksi, a member of Divest McGill, said that he was hoping the donation of the fake check would help the BoG to “think more clearly” in the future.
Alleged Bill 100 violation
Cobbett also reported on behalf of the Human Resources Committee, addressing press reports that McGill was violating provincial Bill 100, which states, “no bonus, allowance, premium, compensation or other additional remuneration based on performance for either of the fiscal years beginning in 2010 and 2011, may be granted to […] a senior executive or the management personnel in the education network or a university.”
The allegation of a violation was made on July 27 by Quebec’s Ministry of Education.
“Our view is that we are certainly in the spirit of the law,” Cobbett said, emphasizing the University’s “sensible, logical approach” to merit-based raises.
Olivier Marcil, Vice-Principal (External Relations), was said to be discussing the subject with the provincial government.
Key Performance Indicators
The BoG also discussed the university’s annual Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which have now been reformatted.
Among other data, McGill’s KPIs include student-faculty ratio, undergraduate class size, graduation rate after six years at the undergraduate level, faculty salary, and philanthropy donations received.
“Our view is that we are certainly in the spirit of the law.”
In a presentation made to the members of the BoG, McGill’s KPIs were compared to those of other universities, particularly to the other members of the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities.
While McGill did well in most KPIs (such as the undergraduate student-faculty ratio), it was the last of the U15 institutions in terms of its industrial relations, as determined by the Times Higher Education industry income score. This point was of particular concern to the members of the BoG.
Collaborating with industry is “important primarily for students,” Principal Suzanne Fortier claimed, as “the vast majority [of them] will work in the private sector.” Fortier cited this example as an incentive for pursuing a higher ranking.
Fortier also mentioned that the university was seeking to create variety in class sizes, with work being done to offer larger online-based courses in order to also provide smaller in-class courses.
Report on philanthropy
Marc Weinstein, Vice-Principal (University Advancement), presented the Annual Report on Philanthropy for 2014-15. Weinstein noted a decrease in alumni donations. Weinstein specified that most of current donations were by donors who had graduated in the sixties and seventies.
Over the course of the past five years, the number of annual fund donors has decreased from 30,141 in 2011 to 26,776 in 2015. Nevertheless, in the 2014-15 fiscal year, philanthropic donations brought in $86,269,199.
“We are doing everything we can to build that momentum on connectivity,” said Weinstein. “We want to engage with our alumni.”
“The biggest thing for younger cohorts is to be involved,” Danielle Toccalino, Secretary-General of the Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS), told The Daily after the meeting, citing the limited financial resources of recent alumni and pointing to other, non-monetary ways in which they can show support.