McMaster strongly positioned for era of change

April 10, 2017

After making difficult choices and undertaking significant improvements over the past few years, McMaster is well positioned as universities are on the threshold of important societal and policy changes.

Provost David Wilkinson updated the campus community during the annual State of the Academy address, held in the new concert performance venue at L.R. Wilson Hall.

“There has been a fair bit of pain endured over the past few years,” the provost said, “but McMaster is now in a sound financial position for the transition into the new provincial funding formula and other impactful changes.”

The province of Ontario is changing the way it funds post secondary institutions. A new formula will establish enrolment ranges or corridors for each university and then directly tie funding to the successful reaching of those targets.

“This will be the most significant change in our sector’s funding over the past four or five decades,” Wilkinson says.

McMaster is also drafting its proposal for a new three-year Strategic Mandate Agreement (SMA), which is the operating document agreed to by the University and the province. In that document, Wilkinson says McMaster will focus on its position as one of two Ontario flagship universities with unique world-class research, teaching and learning.

The provost provided other updates to the community:

  • Faculty budgets are generally in better shape this year after some challenging decisions were taken over the past two or three years
  • The budget model, now in its third year, was refined with a supplemental grant system replacing the hold harmless provision for some Faculties
  • A working group comprised of McMaster and external experts is reviewing the budget model to ensure it is effective in advancing the academic mission
  • Several new undergraduate and graduate programs have been approved with some being launched this fall, including partnerships between Humanities and the DeGroote School of Business and the Faculties of Health Sciences and Engineering
  • Two working groups are finalizing recommendations to help improve undergraduate programming in the Arts and Science Faculties and to provide more flexible pathways and improve student success
  • Work continues to progress on the new McMaster brand based on advancing human and societal health and well being

Wilkinson said the search to fill a new senior position focused on Equity and Inclusion was underway, and that this will be a significant leadership role overseeing the newly reorganized Office of Equity and Inclusion.

The University continues to work to increase mental health services for students, including doubling the funding support for the Student Wellness Centre, training over 100 staff in mental health awareness and creating a new Student Support Case management office.

Construction planning and activity continue at a rapid pace. The new Peter George Centre for Living and Learning is under construction. Two more student residences, an undergraduate residence on Main Street and a graduate residence in downtown Hamilton, are in advanced planning stages. The addition and expansion to the Arthur Bourns Building will increase science and engineering research space while the newly approved Student Activity Space will see the enlargement of the David Braley Athletic Centre.