Editor's Notebook

Editor's Notebook McGill University

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Home > McGill News > 2002 > Winter 2002-2003 > Editor's Notebook

Editor's Notebook

As a greeting for the New Year, we offer you a cover photo looking up McGill College Avenue towards the downtown campus snapped by one of our talented freelancers, Nicolas Morin. Since this is our annual worldwide issue, it will reach readers in areas where a cold and snowy winter is experienced only through photographs. Those of us who get the yips by February may be visiting your part of the globe for an early spring break to carry us through until the real thing comes along.

A report released this week confirms that Canadians are obsessed with weather and the Internet allows us to indulge our obsession. Statistics reveal that we seek weather information above all other kinds of data on the web. A spokesman for Environment Canada says that we've also become extremely demanding. Where we once sought pretty general forecasts, we now want to know what kind of precipitation and precisely how much is expected in Mississauga, Ontario, at 2:30 next Thursday.

While the Alumni Association can't predict Toronto-area weather, it can keep grads there in touch with McGill through its expanded Toronto Office, which you can read about in this issue's Newsbites. Its three-person staff is ready to take on anything from organizing alumni events to recruiting new students.

But the really big news on campus is the changing of the guard. At the beginning of January, Heather Munroe-Blum became McGill's new principal. She comes to us from the University of Toronto, where she was Vice-President, Research and International Relations, for eight years and where, in the words of former U of T president Robert Prichard, "she did an absolutely superb job," doubling the university's research funding. She was primary author of an influential 1999 report linking university research to economic growth and is credited with helping convince the federal government to underwrite the indirect costs of research projects. Her savvy in this area will be a real boon. As Prichard told the McGill Reporter, "There is no individual in Canada better equipped to become the principal of McGill University than Heather Munroe-Blum."

For the next few months she'll be familiarizing herself with the way things work here, although she has been making regular visits to campus since her appointment last spring. And she has been reading memos. Former Principal Bernard Shapiro began putting together what he called "transitional thoughts" when the search committee was formed to seek his successor. These "reflections on McGill" were intended for the use of the committee chair, but Shapiro passed the 6-8 page memos to Munroe-Blum after she accepted the job and continued to correspond with her until she took over. Shapiro shares Robert Prichard's enthusiasm about his successor and says she will be "great for McGill."

In future issues we'll cover the official installation ceremony -- a special convocation is planned for March -- and bring you an interview with McGill's first woman principal. Meantime, join us in a look back at the eight-year term of Bernard Shapiro who has steered us through some tough times and who leaves office as McGill is once again flourishing. He won't be going far -- he remains on campus as both a teacher in the Faculty of Education and a student in Art History. And as you will read, he also has a few high-profile jobs to finish for the city of Montreal.

One retiring administrator who is leaving campus is former Secretary General Victoria Lees, PhD'77. She "bookends" this issue, as the opening letter is hers and she penned the Epilogue at our request. Lees, who has had a number of posts at McGill, chose to write about her early experience as editor of the McGill News. She also offers insights on the contributions of Principal Shapiro, with whom she worked very closely. Her wit and style will be missed at McGill and her loss will be felt keenly at the News, since she is also retiring from our advisory board.

Whether near or far, you can stay in touch with McGill. A modest contribution to the University brings the News to your door for two years and it's available online at www.mcgill.ca/alumni, where you'll also find information about signing up to receive an email newsletter and contacting former classmates. Don't be a stranger.

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