Editor's notebook

Editor's notebook McGill University

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ALUMNI QUARTERLY - winter 2008
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Home > McGill News > 2000 > Winter 2000-2001 > Editor's notebook

Welcome again to our annual "worldwide" issue. Many of you will not have received the magazine since last year's 80th anniversary edition. If you live outside Canada -- and McGill proudly claims alumni in 155 countries -- you may not have heard that it's been a very good year for your alma mater.

There was tremendous excitement on campus last spring when it was announced that Dr. Richard Tomlinson, PhD'48, would give McGill $64 million -- the largest gift ever made by an alumnus to a Canadian university. Some of that money is already in use in the form of fellowship opportunities, and seven new academic chairs will be endowed, including the first ever (in forestry) at Macdonald Campus.

More good news followed in the summer when it was announced that the Canada Foundation for Innovation program had approved 22 of 30 McGill research project submissions. McGill was the single most successful applicant, receiving a total of $150 million to fund projects in fields ranging from disease-resistant poultry to brain tumours and language acquisition.

The Faculty of Music was able to carry out some urgent repairs to their century-old home over the summer, but got even better news recently. The provincial government has finally agreed to help fund a new building which will ease the overcrowding and provide proper rehearsal rooms at long last.

In our "Newsbites" section, you'll read about another generous graduate, Lorne Trottier, BEng'70, MEng'73, who made a $10-million pledge to McGill in October. His gift will form the foundation of a new initiative to help the University meet the demand for information technology specialists.

The most remarkable thing about McGill has always been its people -- the calibre of its students, faculty, staff and alumni, and that's really where the good news lies. Gifts like Richard Tomlinson's will help McGill compete in attracting the best people, while success winning CFI grants and new, well-equipped buildings means those people will have around them the things they need to do their best work. When that happens, we all benefit.

In this issue, we bid farewell to Charlie Baillie, who is leaving after almost three decades of involvement with Redmen football. Through his commitment and demeanour, he's taught McGill students as much as they've learned in their classes -- perhaps a lot more. He will be missed.

We also provide some pictures of this year's Homecoming events. Around 5,000 alumni returned to campus to see old friends. Almost 800 of them lunched and laughed with moderator Derek Drummond, BArch'62, and guest speaker Erica Ritter, BA'68, at the 31st Leacock Luncheon. Drummond noted that many in the audience had reached "what we graciously refer to as a 'certain age' -- when you can't take yes for an answer." He also offered condolences to American visitors who were about to vote, saying choosing between Gore and Bush would be "like trying to decide which non-alcoholic beer to drink."

The choice proved more difficult than anyone expected and as we go to press, the election in the United States is still undecided. In Canada, meanwhile, we re-elected our prime minister -- no two-term limit here. By the end of our short, bitter campaign, candidates were hurling invectives like "wet noodle" and "cockroach" and "racist magnet" at each other. A response in the millions to an Internet petition to change the name of the Canadian Alliance party leader from Stockwell Day to Doris Day -- the leader had pledged that his party would hold a referendum on any issue generating 350,000 signatures -- lent a Monty Python note to the whole process.

McGill has recently been discussing its future with provincial government leaders. Quebec's universities are being asked to set out goals -- with specific numbers and target dates -- so that the Ministry of Education can establish clear performance indicators with which to evaluate institutions. Ironically, the Ministry was this week taken to task by Premier Lucien Bouchard for coming up with very unclear performance indicators for elementary school students. Some schools were issuing report cards that, according to a Montreal Gazette story, "measure results in bafflegab." For example, a Grade 2 student is rated on his ability "to demonstrate openness to the cultural universe as it relates to language" and to "deploy mathematical reasoning with the help of a network of concepts and processes."

We at the News have just one clear wish for our readers -- may you all be healthy and happy in 2001.

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