Principal Fortier: A look back

The McGill Reporter archives remembers some of the McGill community's achievements and other highlights from Professor Suzanne Fortier's tenure as the 17th Principal and Vice-Chancellor.

As Professor Suzanne Fortier completes her final term as the 17th Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University, the McGill Reporter archives remembers some of the McGill community’s achievements under her leadership, and other highlights of her tenure:


Governor General David Johnston (left) and Rector Anthony C. Masi applaud as Suzanne Fortier is officially installed as Principal and Vice-Chancellor Owen Egan


“As a University, we have a crucial role to play with respect to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Action,” said Suzanne Fortier, on June 21, 2018, when the Hiawatha Wampum Belt was first raised above the Arts Building. “We will heed the call in close collaboration with Indigenous communities and our partners, with enthusiasm and humility.”Neale McDevitt
  • The World Economic Forum invites Principal Fortier to join its Global University Leaders Forum, an intellectual community that advises the WEF on matters relating to higher education and research.
  • Federal finance minister Bill Morneau names Principal Fortier to his Advisory Council on Economic Growth.
  • Principal Fortier launches the Principal’s Prize for Public Engagement through Media, an annual recognition of exceptional McGill scholars who share their knowledge with the media and the public.
  • McGill reappoints Prof. Fortier to a second term as Principal and Vice-Chancellor. The McGill Board of Governors highlighted her commitment to increasing the number of outside-the-classroom active learning opportunities (such as research internships, co-op placements, international exchanges and community engagement projects) as an example of Principal Fortier’s student-focused leadership during her first term.
  • In 2017, the McGill community launches LavGrad, the first celebration of 2SLGBTQIA+ graduating students outside the U.S. “You have all made me incredibly proud,” says Principal Fortier at the 2021 celebration.
  • Principal Fortier welcomes her Majesty the Queen of the Belgians to McGill as part of a Belgian state visit to Canada.
  • “As a University, we have a crucial role to play with respect to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Action,” says Principal Fortier when McGill first flies the Hiawatha Wampum belt flag from the Arts Building to mark the 2018 National Indigenous Peoples Day.
  • The Order of Canada appoints Principal Fortier to its ranks in recognition of her rich contributions to scientific advancements and innovation in Canada, and her governance in academia.


Principal Suzanne Fortier applauds the effort and resilience of the Class of 2021Owen Egan / Joni Dufour
  • John and Marcy McCall MacBain make the single-largest gift in Canadian history—$200 million—to create the McCall MacBain Scholarships at McGill. “The McCall MacBain Scholarships embody our vision for McGill’s third century: a place where students become future-ready and prepared to contribute to shaping our rapidly changing world,” says Principal Fortier.
  • The WEF names Principal Fortier chair of its Global University Leaders’ Forum.
  • Principal Fortier joins the McGill community in unveiling a banner to celebrate Laurent Duvernay-Tardif’s successes as a McGill med school graduate and Super Bowl LIV champion: “His determination, his resilience, his commitment to always giving his best. It is incredibly inspiring for all of us.”
  • “We can all take pride in having been able to surmount together this unexpected challenge”: Principal Fortier congratulates McGill students and staff on pivoting to successfully complete the Winter 2020 semester during the early months of the pandemic.
  • Principal Fortier announces McGill’s Action Plan to Address Anti-Black Racism, developed in consultation with McGill’s Black community: “With this Action Plan, we renew our commitment to equity and inclusion in the pursuit of academic excellence as we prepare to mark McGill’s Bicentenary and enter into our third century.”
  • A visionary and transformative project: Principal Fortier on the New Vic, an innovative reimagining of a portion of the former Royal Victoria Hospital site.
  • Maclean’s magazine ranks McGill as Canada’s top university every year of Principal Fortier’s tenure. “Our continued success in the Maclean’s rankings speaks to the exceptionally high calibre of our students, faculty and staff,” she says on the occasion of the 2021 rankings. “That we, and so many other universities in Canada, have been able to maintain this level of excellence – even through COVID – is an accomplishment we should all be proud of.”
  • “What a wonderful day!”: Principal Fortier presides over the first in-person Convocation ceremonies since the pandemic.
  • “You are an integral part of a very special community — one that has been evolving for 200 years, that has made an incredible impact on society and knowledge, and that has helped people fulfill their promise”: Principal Fortier joins the McGill community in celebrating the University’s Bicentennial.


Principal Suzanne Fortier (centre) assisted with the launch of a weather balloon as part of the inauguration of the Adaptable Earth Observation System at the Gault Nature Reserve on August 29, 2022Neale McDevitt