No Time for Nostalgia

It was back to school for Principal Bernard J. Shapiro during his first year at McGill

Just over a year has gone by since Bernard Shapiro, BAí56, LLDí88, brushed up on his French at McGillís Centre for Continuing Education ñ and began his tenure as McGill principal. Early on, Shapiro indicated his pragmatism at his Fall í94 convocation speech:

ìIf we indulge too long, the sweetness of nostalgia can be a trap. Like the trance induced by the sirensí call of Greek mythology, nostalgia can make us deaf, unheeding to the challenges that we face ñ those of change, those of choice. The very word ënostalgiaí stems from the Greek concept of returning home that is tinged with pain. The sweetness of nostalgia as an end in itself is, therefore, an indulgence that we can ill afford.î

There was no time for nostalgia after the federal budget in February. The government announced plans to cut $7 billion in transfer payments to the provinces by 1998. ìGiven that the provinces will be required to maintain the standards of the Canada Health Act, post-secondary education can now be described as a kind of residual legatee to the health system,î Principal Shapiro told the McGill Board of Governors. He noted that a 21 percent reduction in research funding and international assistance marked a serious undermining of the whole notion of a publicly supported research university.

The key issue now is whether universities will be allowed to raise tuition fees to compensate. In Quebec, so far, the answer is no. Quebec is the only province not to raise tuition fees this year. ìI cannot help but have sympathy for the difficult choices facing the federal government, and in many ways, I think they got the ëmacroí level right. . . . Beyond our obvious self-interest, I think that the changes will also undermine the foundations of Canadaís capacity to manoeuvre in the increasingly knowledge-based economy.î

To prepare for the cuts, Principal Shapiro asked all University departments to plan for a 20 percent budget cut over five years. Meanwhile, McGill took a government grant cut of $7.8 million for the í95-í96 year while sticking firmly to a plan to have a surplus of $2.4 million to attack the $69 million accumulated deficit.

In other more pleasant activities, the principal conferred an honorary degree upon Graduatesí Society nominee Tamar Oppenheimer, BAí46, LLDí94, former assistant secretary general of the United Nations, at the Fall í94 convocation. This fall, Warren Chippindale, BComí49, will be so honoured.

In November, there was more hullabaloo about the annual Macleanís magazine ranking of Canadian universities in which McGill placed second in the medical/doctoral category. Prinicipal Shapiro disagreed with the methodology but felt it was important to submit data for the survey. After publication, he wrote that his main interest was that students thought McGill had ìimpenetrable bureaucracy ñ an issue we can actually do something about.î

For the first time, Quebecís auditor general began to examine universities, with McGill and Laval targeted first. ìMy sense is there will be a particular emphasis on costs of administration, executive salaries and teaching loads,î Shapiro reported.

The Principal said few decisions would be as important as the choice of leaders for McGillís senior positions. He asked for a good list of women candidates for senior positions, noting: ìMcGill has not been very successful in this area.î Indeed, by the end of his first year, senior positions were assigned to Rosalie Jukier, BCLí83, LLBí83, Phyllis Heaphy, BAí70, DipPubAcctí82, Victoria Lees, PhDí77, CertProfFrí92, and Ratna Ghosh.

Montrealís four universities joined together to prepare a position paper for the Parti QuÈbÈcois-sponsored Commission on the Future of Quebec. The rectors said that no university would take a position in the sovereignty debate, but wanted to reiterate their collective economic and cultural force in the Montreal region.

Shapiro also teamed up with twin brother Harold T., BComí56, LLDí88, President of Princeton University, to write a 50-page paper entitled ìUniversities in Higher Education: Some Problems and Challenges in a Changing World.î The Shapiro brothers argued, among other things, that higher education will be an increasingly important aspect of public policy. They suggest that most citizens see universities as a ìvocational sieveî allowing for better paying jobs and upward social mobility, while governments see higher education as contributing to the ability of their society to compete in the global workplace. The paper calls for heroic, new and daring acts of teaching, and notes that the capacity for generating new ideas is not the same as the capacity to deploy the concepts in a productive fashion.

Observers say Principal Shapiro has spent the year learning about McGill, and by all reports has survived through the support of his effervescent wife, Phyllis, as well as by stealing a few quiet moments in the Faculty of Engineering cafeteria. ìHe has total peace there, no-one recognizes him,î says our source.

ó Felixa de Amesti

UN big with students

Crises in Bosnia, Rwanda and Somalia may have demonstrated the weakness of the United Nations for rapid action, but McGill students are still high on the organization. The United Nations Club was voted the Best Studentsí Society Club in 1995, with 200 members from all disciplines. President Meredith Nelson said the McGill club is concerned with UN reform. ìThere is a lot of talk about the way the Secretary General is chosen, and ways to make the UN more cost effective. Many members feel the heart of the problem with the UN is that there is no rapid reaction force.î Three members of the McGill club, Nelson, Keith Donahue and Ahmer Husain, are working for the United Nations Association in Canada to promote United Nations Day, October 24, marking its 50th anniversary.

Endowment Fund is tops

Finally, there is some good financial news from McGill University. McGillís $400 million endowment fund remains one of the best performing funds in the country. For the last 10 years, McGillís RIAL (Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning) Fund has earned an annualized rate of return of 11.9 percent. ìThe McGill fund outperforms 90 percent of the hospital and endowment funds in the nation,î says Hartland McKeown, President of SEI Measurement Services in Toronto. He notes that McGillís success is tied to its sophisticated approach, which entails international investment. The RIAL Fund is managed by McGill Treasurer Stu Budden, John Limeburner, BCLí86, LLBí86, and Laurie Lawson, BComí92, under the jurisdiction of the Investment Committee of the Board of Governors, led by Chair Tullio Cedraschi, MBAí68.

McGill has made its mark in the investment arena, and was the first such fund to use specialty managers, to operate on the concept of the total rate of return, and to invest outside of North America. McGillís largest fund manager is Phillips, Hager & North Ltd. of Vancouver ñ where Dick Bradshaw, BComí61, manages $86 million of McGillís endowment ñ followed by the Montreal-based firm Jarislowsky Fraser. As of the quarter ending May 31, 1995, the Fund managers invested in the following companies in order of rank: Merck & Co. Inc., Bank of Nova Scotia, Hercules Inc., Bank of Montreal, Royal Bank of Canada, Red Home Loan Mtge. Corp., General Electric, Columbia Health Care Corp., Triton Energy Corp. and CIBC.

The RIAL fund does not currently help pay off the McGill deficit though the McGill Board of Governors is looking at various ways that it might do so.

Blades and grades

Todd Marcellus, 22, came to McGill three years ago for an edu- cation. But the Chester- ville, Ontario, left winger surprised everyone by making the McGill hockey team in his first year ñ although not even recruited by the Redmen, he went on to become their outstanding rookie. Last season, his third, brought a team MVP. Heís also maintained a 3.45 GPA while pursuing a BEd in physical education. For his effort, Marcellus was one of four recipients of the 1995 Guy Lafleur Excellence and Merit Awards, sponsored by Molson OíKeefe, presented annually to Quebec midget, junior and university hockey players who best combine academic and sports distinction. Marcellus will receive a $6,000 scholarship ñ much appreciated, as McGill does not give out sports scholarships.


Alumni runners, walkers, cyclists wanted. . . to participate with the McGill contingent of the Terry Fox Run, Sunday, September 17, 1995, 11a.m., Beaver Lake, Montreal. Call 398-3552 for details.