While McGill’s student body has always included Francophones, for a significant part of its history McGill operated as an Anglophone institution. This began to shift around the time of the Quiet Revolution – a period during which the need to preserve and promote French language and culture rose to prominence in Quebec.
In 1970, McGill instituted the French Language Centre, offering language courses for staff, students and professionals who wished to work in Quebec. It would be several years before changes started to ripple through the University – as evidenced by the 1971 Report on the Use of French Language at McGill, which confirmed that only 10.2% of McGill’s staff was fluently bilingual.
By the 1980s, students were able to submit their work in French. Today, one in five McGill students report French as their first language, and nearly half of McGill’s students are from Quebec. Francophone students have access to a wide range of services, and operate a campus newspaper, Le Délit (founded in 1977). Francophones now hold many of the University’s leadership positions, including that of Principal.