As Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University, Dr. Suzanne Fortier spends much of her time speaking to people; she spends even more of her time listening to them.
She shared her enthusiasm for her job with the audience of students and other community members who attended yesterday’s Trafalgar-Ross Lecture, “We often hear of people looking up to those in later stages of life for inspiration, but I am also inspired by young people.”
Dr. Fortier herself accomplished a great deal at a young age: from humble beginnings growing up in the small village of Saint-Timothée, her curiosity and a thirst for knowledge drove her to study at McGill, where she was the only student enrolled in the “crystallography” program—a subject that evidently still fascinates her. Graduating with a Ph.D. in 1976, she first worked for six years at what is now the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute in Buffalo, before beginning a career at Queen's University, where she taught in both the Chemistry and Computing departments, later serving as their Vice-Principal (Academic), then Vice-Principal (Research); she was also President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) before taking on her current leadership role at McGill in 2013.
The audience heard Dr. Fortier’s reflections on her pathway when she joined Ms. Nikidis, Marianna Cardin, and Maya Hillcoat on stage for a (bilingual) Q&A and discussion after the lecture. She spoke about establishing "headlights" to guide her path: “For me, being open, purposeful, and connected, is how I decided I wanted to live my life, and I brought that perspective to McGill. You might want to ask yourself—what are your headlights? What will light the way for you? J’ai hâte de découvrir tout ce que vous allez accomplir.”
Trafalgar thanks Dr. Fortier for her wise words, and everyone who made this year’s Lecture such a great success.