Senate reports record-breaking philanthropic achievements

At the Oct. 26 McGill Senate meeting, representatives from the McGill office for University Advancement (UA) gave a report on highlights from the 2017 fiscal year (FY17). Senate also made plans to recognize McGill’s 200-year anniversary with the Road to 200 project, launching in 2019, and reviewed the revision of Charter of Students' Rights and the report from the Board of Governors (BoG).


Presentation of FY17 and Road to 200

Vice-Principal (University Advancement) Marc Weinstein commended the UA’s collective effort to engage alumni and raise funds for the university. During FY17—which ran from May 1, 2016 to April 30, 2017—UA received a total of $170 million in cash and donation pledges. Among these donations, the largest gifts to McGill were used to found various schools, including the new School of Retail Management and the Max Bell School of Public Policy, from a $25 million donation from Aldo Bensadoun, founder of the Aldo Group, and a $10 million donation from the Max Bell Foundation, respectively.

“We’ve landed some very significant gifts and had our best cash year [with] all of our best achievements ever in the history of University Advancement,” Weinstein said. “Many deans and academic development officers who worked with UA have really galvanized their efforts to [ensure last year’s success].”

McGill's most recent fundraising campaign, History in the Making, ran from 2005 to 2013 and raised $1.026 billion over the nine years. To surpass this amount in the upcoming celebration of McGill’s bicentennial, Road to 200, Weinstein is testing a potential target of $1.5 billion. He emphasized the importance of capitalizing on McGill’s diverse alumni cohort, given that alumni gave 65 per cent of FY17 donations and often donated with particular areas of interest in mind, such as libraries or scholarships.

“Our alumni live in different pockets of the world and [therefore] our challenge, and our opportunity at the same time, is how to make sure that we connect with our alumni,” Weinstein said. “We clearly need ambassadors. We need champions. We need advocates. We really need [the McGill community] to demonstrate their pride of McGill, to spread the word about the bicentennial, and to [be] creative as this campaign takes shape.”


Revision of Charter of Students’ Rights

Before Senate approved the revisions to the Charter of Students’ Rights, Dean of Students Christopher Buddle highlighted a number of new articles in the document, including new definitions such as a "member of the university community" and "university context."  The former term is now defined as anyone holding office under the University Charter and Statutes, appointees and employees of the university, and students. The latter is defined as ‘activities or events organized and supported by the University, whether or not on University properties.’ Some new articles have been added to the revised charter, including Article 31, which gives students the right to recognize and protect their scholarly work, and Article 32, which allows students to resolve disputes through informal means.

The former Articles 4 and 21 concern the rights of student survivors of sexual solicitation by people in positions of power and students charged with a disciplinary offence, respectively. Regarding these two articles, a senator raised the question of their oversimplification in the new charter, to which Buddle answered that the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures and a proposed guiding document would explain these articles in further detail.

“What we’d like to do is to provide a guiding document to go alongside the charter and to clarify some of the [articles],” Buddle said. “A lot of [the simplified information] is procedural and operational with respect to what’s contained already in the Code. The simplified [Charter] would suffice as a foundational charter of rights.”


Report on Board of Governors  

According to the report on the Board of Governors, written by representative Tina Hobday, McGill’s top governing body re-appointed Suzanne Fortier as Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the university until June 2023 and Marc Weinstein as Vice-Principal (University Advancement) until June 2024.

The Board also approved a number of construction projects and renovation contracts for campus buildings, including the Elizabeth Wirth Music Building, Stewart Biology Building, Macdonald Stewart Library, Lyman Duff Complex, and Rutherford Physics Building.

“There’s going to be a lot more construction,” Hobday said. “[However,] it will end and [the campus] will be beautiful.”

The next Senate meeting will be held on Nov. 23.


A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that McGill received $296 million in cash and donation pledges with 95 per cent of donations coming from alumni. In fact, McGill received $170 million in cash and donation pledges with 65 per cent coming from alumni. The Tribune regrets these errors.
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