With nearly 50,000 students, faculty members, and employees, McGill University has a comprehensive system of governance. Here’s your introduction to the administrative structure at McGill, with a deeper look at SSMU, PGSS, McGill’s Senate, and the McGill Board of Governors.
Who they are
The Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) represents undergraduate students, all undergraduates on the downtown campus are members of SSMU. It also advocates for students’ interests to the university, and at the provincial and federal levels for issues such as affordable and high quality higher education.
What they do
SSMU provides many services to undergraduate students, including support and administration of student clubs, the student-run cafeteria (SRC), mini courses and Gert’s Bar. SSMU is also a governing body for undergraduate students. Its Legislative Council is the legislative body for undergraduate students, and is comprised of six executives and councilors elected from various student constituencies. SSMU also 13 senators to Senate to represent members in the university legislative process. At least once a semester, SSMU holds a General Assembly which allows its constituents to debate and vote on changes to the society
Recent accomplishments .
Recently, the SRC expanded and will house an additional food operation alongside The Nest. This new cafeteria will provide expanded food options for students, as well as employment opportunities. Last year, the legislative council passed a motion to increase support of the Peer Support Network by assisting in the establishment of a permanent space for the group in order to increase mental health support options for students.
Who they are The Post-Graduate Students’ Society of McGill University (PGSS) represents graduate students and post-doctoral fellows to McGill administration and to various groups at the provincial and federal level. It is comprised of six executives, four commissioners, and eight staff members charged with various responsibilities.
What they do
PGSS Council governs PGSS activities and sets policy. It is made up of representatives from across the various faculties, and meets monthly. PGSS also holds general meetings throughout the school year, which members of the society are welcome to attend. PGSS provides many social activities and events for graduate students. They run the Thomson House, a restaurant and bar for members that also hosts many events. PGSS also provides various services, including health plans and family programs. It is a support organization for graduate students, and provides many resources for getting the most from a McGill education, while also advocating on behalf of students to external organizations.
Last year, PGSS finished a three year campaign lobbying the University to lower international student health care plan prices. Their campaign successfully lowered healthcare costs for all international students at McGill.
Who they are
Senate is an administrative body with jurisdiction over academic policy and serves as a forum for a broad representation of voices within the McGill community. Among Senate’s 107 voting members are faculty deans, members of the Board of Governors, professors, support staff, students, and members of McGill’s senior administration. Thirteen student Senators are elected each spring during the SSMU election period to represent each academic faculty, while four members represent the PGSS.
What they do
The Senate includes nine standing subcommittees; among these are the Joint Board-Senate Committee on Equity, the Committee on Student Services, and the Honourary Degree and Convocations Committee. Additionally, there are a number of committees arising out of university regulations such as the Advisory Council on the Charter of Students’ Rights, and the Committee on Student Discipline. Senate meets once monthly during the academic year on Wednesdays, beginning at 2:30 p.m. in room 232 of the Leacock Building. The meetings are usually open to the general public, as well as available to watch via a livestream on the Senate website.
In January, 2015, the Senate passed a motion allowing the implementation of a new policy allowing students in extreme situations, such as mental or physical illness, to withdraw from all courses they took in a semester without this action being marked on their transcript. This action, advocated for by student Senators, directly impacts those students struggling with circumstances leading them to withdraw from their courses. In 2013, the Senate approved a resolution taking an official position against Bill 60, the Quebec Charter of Values. This action on their part would ensure that if the law were passed, McGill University would not take disciplinary measures against individuals in violation of it.
McGill Board of Governors
Who they are
McGill’s Board of Governors is the governing body of the University. It has final authority over all of McGill’s conduct and affairs. The Board is composed of two student observers and 25 voting members, including Principal Suzanne Fortier, Chancellor Michael Meighen, 12 members at large, three alumni representatives, two academic staff representatives, two administrative staff representatives, and two student representatives. The two student representatives come from SSMU and PGSS, and are allowed to vote on all Board decisions, while the two student observers, who come from the MacDonald Campus Students’ Society and the McGill Association of Continuing Studies, sit in on Board meetings but cannot vote.
What they do
The Board is the trustee of all University property, making them responsible for maintenance and administration. The Board also oversees the appointment of university personnel, including the Principal, and determines their salaries and benefits. In addition to this, University finances, investments, ethics and human resources falls under their jurisdiction. The Board’s authority and extent of its power are outlined in McGill’s Statues. With meetings generally held six times per year, all members of the McGill community are invited to attend open session Board meetings. The first board meeting of the 2015/2016 school year will be held on Oct. 8 at 4:00 p.m.
During the Board’s final meeting of the 2014-2015 academic year, the Declaration of Compliance to Quebec Treasury Board Pursuant to Loi 65.1 was passed. This motion requires the University to make public any contract it enters into above $25,000. Students, staff, and the public can now access this information through the McGill website and see who the University has contracts with.
This article is a part of our McGill 101 issue, which aims to ease your transition and answer questions you have about McGill and Montreal.