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McGill University

McGill University

Shield of McGill University
Grandescunt aucta labore
(By work, all things increase and grow)

Established 1821
School type Public
Principal Heather Monroe-Blum
Location Montreal, Quebec
Enrollment 21,765 undergraduate, 9,160 graduate
Faculty 1,485
Campus Urban, 80 acres (32 ha)
Sports teams 14
Mascots Martlet, Redmen

Shield image © McGill University

McGill University is a research-intensive, non-denominational, co-educational university located in the city of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Founded in 1821, McGill has long been considered to be one of the most prestigious universities in the country and among the finest in North America.

Known to some as "The Harvard of the North", McGill is well-known for its pioneering research in the medical sciences, chemistry, physics and biology. The university has among the highest entry standards in Canada and the United States and is famous for its undergraduate education. It has an established history in the humanities, social sciences, music, law, business and physical education.

International university rankings such as the Gourman Report , Princeton Review and the Times Higher Education Supplement, have consistently placed McGill amongst the top-tier of global universities. In 2004, the Times Higher Education Supplement ranked McGill 21st best university in the world (12th in North America) and in 1997 it described McGill as one of the 10 greatest centers of academic excellence in the world. McGill ranked 2nd in the annual Maclean's survey of Canadian universities in 2003 and 2004 and 1st in the 2003 and 2004 National Post/Research Infosource rankings. The university has also had the distinction of having the highest publication intensity of any academic institution in the country for many years. This was one of the factors which led to the school being named Canada's "Research University of the Year" in 2003. Noted for being a research-intensive university, it frequently garners the most research dollars nationwide (per faculty) from federal and provincial sources of funding (including CFI, NSERC and other organizations).[1] [2]



The Arts Building
The Arts Building

The main campus is situated in downtown Montreal at the foot of Mount Royal. Most of the buildings are situated in a park-like campus north of Sherbrooke Street between Peel and Aylmer streets, and north of Docteur-Penfield Avenue west of Peel Street (near Peel and McGill metro stations).

A secondary campus, the Macdonald Campus, is in the district of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue. Founded in 1905, this campus, known as Macdonald College until 1972, is some 32 kilometres from downtown Montreal on the western tip of the Island of Montreal. The Macdonald Campus is the home of the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Science, the School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition and the McGill School of Environment.

The architecture of the downtown campus is an eclectic mix reflecting the various periods in which the buildings were erected, although they are all constructed using local grey limestone, which serves as a unifying element.


McGill's student population includes 21,765 undergraduates and 9,160 graduate students (2004/05). McGill has a higher percentage of American students, out-of-province students, and international students than any other Canadian university; it has students from over 150 countries. Admission at McGill is done in thirds: Two-thirds of available first-year seats are allocated for Quebec residents, two-thirds of the remaining seats are allocated for the rest of Canada, and the rest are left for international students. Although the university is one of two English-language universities in Montreal, 19.6% of students at McGill speak French as their first language.

The Quebec government has long encouraged international students from selected countries (such as some members of La Francophonie) to attend their universities over students from other Canadian provinces. Since 1996 it has been more expensive for an out-of-province student to attend McGill than it is for many foreigners from countries that have special agreements with Quebec. This, in addition to McGill's international reputation, partially accounts for why McGill has a high percentage of foreign students. Nevertheless, owing to Montreal's much lower rental accomodation costs, some students paying out-of-province tuition find it less expensive to attend McGill than universities in their home province.

Students life is varied and vibrant, reflecting the many cultures and tastes of the students and of Montreal. McGill University ranked first overall in the category of "Campus race/class relations friendliest" in The Princeton Review: The Best 357 Colleges. McGill ranked third for "Great college towns."


In 1813, James McGill, a Scottish immigrant who prospered in Montreal, bequeathed his 46 acre (186,000 m²) estate and 10,000 pounds to "the Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning." McGill College (now McGill University) was inaugurated in 1829 in Burnside Place, James McGill's country home. In 1843, the University constructed its first buildings, the central and east wings of the Arts Building.

In 1905, the University acquired a second campus when Sir William C. Macdonald endowed a college in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, 32 kilometres west of Montreal, today the site of McGill's Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, and the Institute of Parasitology.

Women's education at McGill began in 1884, when Donald Smith (Lord Strathcona) provided funding for separate lectures at the University, given by McGill staff members, for the benefit of women. Four years later, the Donalda Department was established, and women were able for the first time to enroll on a full-time basis. The education of Donaldas, named after their benefactor, flourished so much that twelve years later, they gained their own institution: the Royal Victoria College.

Erected in 1899 thanks to Lord Strathcona’s donation of £50,000, the building was a self-contained unit, serving as both dormitory and educational facility until 1971, when the original, central section and the eastern wing were given to the Faculty of Music. RVC’s westernmost wings, the Vaughan wing (built, on the corner of University and Sherbrooke Streets, in 1931) and the Roscoe wing (set further back on University Street in 1964), continued to serve their function as McGill’s only all-female residence.

As time went on, into the 1930s and ‘40s, women students "made a place for themselves on the Campus at large and became active co-educationally," wrote Muriel Roscoe, Warden of RVC from 1940 to 1963. Today, women are fully integrated into McGill academics, but until the 1970s, every female undergraduate at the University was nominally a member of Royal Victoria College.

Facts and Trivia

  • McGill was the first non-denominational university in the British Empire.
  • It is one of only two Canadian universities holding a membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization comprising top-tier North American research universities. (The other Canadian university member is the University of Toronto.)
  • McGill is associated with six Nobel laureates and two Canadian prime ministers.
  • McGill has produced 125 Rhodes Scholars, the most of any Canadian university. [3]
  • 90% of McGill students ranked in the top 10% of their high school graduating class.
  • McGill's class of 1952 includes William Shatner, who portrayed Captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek. Students have (unofficially) named McGill's Student Union building after him.
  • The McGill Daily, founded in 1911, is the longest-running student newspaper in the British Commonwealth.
  • McGill's MBA program has been consistently been ranked among the top 40 in the world by The Economist and Financial Times.
  • McGill's Bellairs Research Institute & campus on the island of Barbados serves as Canada's only teaching and research facility in the tropics. These facilities are used by such entities as the Canadian Space Agency for research.
  • McGill has consistently ranked among the top four medical/doctoral universities nationwide, in the Maclean's rankings, an annual ranking of Canadian universities.
  • McGill's Redpath Museum, commissioned in 1880 and opened in 1882, is the oldest building built specifically as a museum in North America. Its natural history collections boast material collected by the same individuals who founded the collections of the Royal Ontario Museum and the Smithsonian.
  • The Sunday Times in 1998 listed McGill as one of the 10 Centres of Excellence in the world. McGill appeared in tenth spot, behind Cambridge, Oxford, Sorbonne and Heidelberg.
  • The Times ranked McGill among the top 25 universities in the world, in its World University Rankings, released in 2004.
  • It is a little known fact that the inventions of hockey, basketball and North American football are all related to McGill in some way. The first game of North American football was played between McGill and Harvard in 1874.
  • Established in 1871, McGill's mining engineering programis the oldest in Canada. It is the second oldest program of its kind in North America, behind the one offered at Colorado School of Mines.
  • McGill has had one of the top-ranked debating unions in Canada for the past two decades, winning several CUSID national championships as well as the World Universities Debating Championships.
  • McGill's Trivia Club has been the top Canadian team at the NAQT Canadian Sectional Championship Tournament (Division II) for the past two years, and will be representing the university at the Intercollegiate Championship Tourment in New Orleans in April 2005.
  • During World War II, the International Labour Organization was headquartered at McGill.
  • In terms of contributions to computing, MUSIC/SP, a piece of software for mainframes, once popular among universities and colleges around the world at its time, was developed at McGill. A team also contributed to the development of Archie, one of the pre-WWW search engines. A 3270 terminal emulator developed at McGill was commercialized and later sold to Hummingbird Software.
  • The university is represented in Canadian Interuniversity Sport by the McGill Redmen (men's) and the McGill Martlets (women's).


The university's symbol is the martlet; its motto is Grandescunt Aucta Labore (by work, all things grow). Inscribed in its arms is In Domino Confido (I trust in the Lord), James McGill's personal motto. Its sports teams are named Martlets (women) and Redmen (men), and its school colours are red and white. The school song is entitled "Hail, Alma Mater." The lyrics to the song are as follows:

Hail, Alma Mater, we sing to thy praise;
Loud in thy Honour, our voices we raise.
Full to thy fortune, our glasses we fill.
Life and Prosperity, Dear Old McGill.
Hail, Alma Mater, thy praises we sing:
Far down the centuries, still may they ring.
Long through the ages remain - if God will,
Queen of the Colleges, Dear Old McGill.

List of Chancellors

  1. Charles Dewey Day (1864-1884)
  2. James Ferrier (1884-1888)
  3. Sir Donald Alexander Smith, Lord Strathcona (1889-1914)
  4. Sir William Christopher Macdonald (1914-1917)
  5. Sir Robert Laird Borden (1918-1920)
  6. Sir Edward Wentworth Beatty (1921-1942)
  7. Morris Watson Wilson (1943-1946)
  8. Orville Sievwright Tyndale (1946-1952)
  9. Bertie Charles Gardner (1952-1957)
  10. Ray Edwin Powell (1957-1964)
  11. Howard Irwin Ross (1964-1970)
  12. Donald Olding Hebb (1970-1974)
  13. Stuart Milner Finlayson (1975)
  14. Conrad Fetherstonhaugh Harrington (1976-1984)
  15. A. Jean de Grandpré (1984-1991)
  16. Gretta Chambers (1991-1999)
  17. Richard W. Pound (1999-)

List of Principals

  1. George Jehoshaphat Mountain (1824-1835)
  2. John Bethune (1835-1846)
  3. Edmund A. Meredith (1846-1853)
  4. Charles D. Day (1853-1855)
  5. John William Dawson (1855-1893)
  6. William Peterson (1895-1919)
  7. Auckland C. Geddes (1919-1920)
  8. General Sir Arthur Currie (1920-1933)
  9. Arthur Eustace Morgan (1935-1937)
  10. Lewis Williams Douglas (1937-1939)
  11. Frank Cyril James (1939-1962)
  12. Harold Rocke Robertson (1962-1970)
  13. Robert Edward Bell (1970-1979)
  14. David Lloyd Johnston (1979-1994)
  15. Bernard Shapiro (1994-2002)
  16. Heather Munroe-Blum (2003-)

Noted alumni and professors

Academics and scholars

Current Presidents of other Canadian universities

Business and media

  • John Burns - current Pulitzer Prize-winning "New York Times" journalist, formerly of "The Globe and Mail"
  • John Cleghorn - former chairman of the Royal Bank of Canada, the largest bank in Canada
  • Edgar Bronfman, Sr. - former CEO of Seagram's Distillers
  • Conrad Black - embattled media tycoon, owner of 650 dailies/weeklies around the world
  • Livio "Desi" Desimone - former CEO of St Paul-based 3M Corporation
  • Adam Gopnik - staff writer for "The New Yorker" magazine
  • Ron Meade - founder of Altamira
  • Seymour Schulich (investments) - benefactor to the Schulich School of Business, York University
  • Lorne Trottier - founder of Matrox
  • Mort Zuckerman - CEO of Atlantic Monthly Corporation and publisher of "US New & World Report"

Politics and government

Art, music, and film



Nobel Prize winners


McGill University is affiliated with seven teaching hospitals in Montreal, four of which compose the McGill University Health Centre:

Other universities in Montreal

See also

External links

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