The first thing you will notice about this issue is the easily removed (we hope) accompanying insert saluting those who made donations to McGill last year. The Report on Private Giving highlights what the University is doing to improve life on campus for students, thanks to one of McGill's major assets -- the sustained support of its graduates and friends.

Students, too, have become significant donors to campus projects over the last decade, voting in referendums to allow extra fees each term for library improvements, for example, or to help pay for the new Student Services Building, due to open next fall. As well, students in their graduating year have established a tradition of making pledges to their faculties through a program called Class Action. Annual donations from staff and faculty have more than doubled in the last three years, with 100 new donors contributing in 1997-98. Such impressive backing from insiders is an important measure of their confidence in McGill.

Our cover story this time is about recent graduates from the opera program who are becoming known internationally, and what it takes to achieve that recognition. We also have a story about our cover -- in the best show business tradition of the understudy stepping in for the ailing star. Ottawa-based soprano Julie Nesrallah had graciously agreed to come to Montreal to pose for the cover with countertenor Dan Taylor. Coordinating the schedules of the two busy singers with our own deadlines was a little tricky, but finally it was all laid on -- photographer, studio time, make-up, costumes and the two rising stars.

Just hours before the shoot, however, Nesrallah called Assistant Editor Andrew Mullins to say she was leaving Montreal. She had a throat infection and was rushing back to Ottawa to see her doctor. With a commitment to perform in Victoria in four days' time, getting medical attention for her voice was an urgent priority. Time for Plan B. Unfortunately, we didn't have one.

We put in a desperate call to Isolde Lagacé, Concerts and Publicity Director at the Faculty of Music, explaining our dilemma. In no time, the calm and efficient Lagacé had recruited undergraduate diva Ann Rowe to fill in. As you will read in "Making Their Voices Heard," Rowe's teachers predict that a bright future in opera for the young soprano. Needless to say, she already has two big fans here at the News. Oh, and Julie Nesrallah appeared on schedule and in fine voice with Victoria's Pacific Opera Company.

Some other graduates made international news in recent months, although not the kind anybody would wish for. In January, Peter Rowe, BSc'58, was one of four kidnapped tourists killed in Yemen during a botched attempt to rescue the hostages. Survivors told how Rowe, a lecturer in physics at Durham University in England since 1964, had offered calming words to the group before he was fatally wounded in a two-hour gun battle.

According to colleagues, Rowe was popular with his students and often challenged proposed university policy if it did not serve their interests. He loved to visit more remote parts of the globe, and his extensive travels in Asia and Africa made him particularly sensitive to the problems faced by Durham's overseas students.

A familiar face on newscasts and in the pages of the world's magazines and newspapers has been that of McGill Board of Governors chair, Dick Pound, Bcom'62, BCL'67. As Vice-President of the International Olympic Committee, he has had the unenviable task of being both investigator and defender of the IOC in light of charges of bribery and corruption in securing the right to host the Olympics. Obscured in all the international clamour has been the local story that Pound will succeed Gretta Chambers, BA'47, as McGill Chancellor this summer.

He has certainly been one of McGill's most active alumni, having headed the Alumni Association, the Alma Mater Fund and the McGill Fund Council. Pound, who competed in swimming at the Rome Olympics in 1960, is also chair of the McGill Athletics Board. Despite the demands of his Montreal law practice -- and the slings and arrows currently directed at him because of the Olympic scandal -- Pound says he has no plans to reduce the time he devotes to either the IOC or to the University.

"I figure I benefited a great deal from the work of volunteers as a student and as an athlete, and their example has always guided me to repay at least what I got as a result of their efforts. It may take a lifetime."

It seems there is more than one kind of private giving -- and more than one way to salute it.