Province invests $45.5-M in liberal arts at McMaster

June 22, 2011

    A $45.5-million investment by the Ontario government will allow McMaster to build a major new liberal arts building that will be used by more than half the entire student body and improve access to education for under-represented groups. Celebrating the announcement is (from left) McMaster's President Patrick Deane, Minister of Revenue and Minister Responsible for Seniors Sophia Aggelonitis, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities John Milloy, McMaster's Chancellor Lynton (Red) Wilson and MPP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale Ted McMeekin. Photo by JD Howell.

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A $45.5-million investment by the Ontario government will allow McMaster to build a
major new liberal arts building that will be used by more than half the entire student
body and improve access to education for under-represented groups such as Aboriginal
people, Crown wards and first-generation students.

"I know that I speak for everyone when I say how grateful we are to the province for
making this exciting announcement. It is a significant investment in Hamilton and our
region," said McMaster President and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane. "At McMaster, we
always put our students first. And this project, which has been a top priority, will let us
provide an even better experience for our students."

Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities John Milloy made the announcement on
campus Wednesday with Queen's Park colleagues Sophia Aggelonitis, Minister of
Minister Responsible for Seniors and MPP for Hamilton Mountain, and Ted McMeekin,
MPP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale.

show/">See photos from Wednesday's announcement

"By investing in new classrooms, labs and tutorial space at the new, environmentally
sustainable facility at McMaster, we're investing in Ontario students and our province,"
said Minister Milloy. "We are putting students first by ensuring that they receive quality
education that is accessible and affordable."

The Wilson Building for Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences will feature a wide
range of flexible spaces for teaching, learning, research and performance, all equipped
with cutting-edge technology. At least 13,000 students will use the building, including
those from faculties whose education includes courses in the liberal arts.

"The importance of this building to the liberal arts at McMaster cannot be overstated,"
said Matthew Dillon-Leitch, president of the McMaster Students Union and himself a
liberal arts student. "Student life and education will improve along with research.
McMaster University, the city of Hamilton and the province of Ontario will all reap the
rewards of this project."

At 104,000 square feet, the building will create space for 1,275 more students on
campus, in keeping with the province's post-secondary attainment goals. The project is
to commence in 2012, with construction anticipated to begin in 2013.

The building will be located at the main Hamilton campus, at a location close to
students studying in the humanities and social sciences, with access to parking to
enhance community participation in the activities of the building. The investment
announcement permits McMaster to finalize the exact location by using priorities
established in the campus plan and following the normal University process.

The $65-million project received critical early support in the form of a $10-million gift
from Chancellor Lynton (Red) Wilson in 2007, and a $1-million gift from the McMaster
Association of Part-time Students last year.

"Educated people, no matter what their specialty or discipline, should be able to interact
with each other in a context that includes a shared understanding and comprehensive
knowledge of who we are as human beings," Wilson said. "McMaster cares deeply about
the development of the next generation of leaders, and we need to support the
humanities and social sciences to nurture their development."

Teaching, learning and research at the new facility will have economic and social impact,
emphasizing connections between the community and the University through
experiential education and community outreach.

"This new space will allow us to educate, study and serve our community all at once as
we grapple with such issues as poverty, aging and inclusivity," said Dean of Social
Sciences Charlotte Yates. "The social sciences and humanities are critical to the success
of McMaster students, and this investment allows the University to engage more
students than ever, in new ways that blend emerging technology with new teaching
methods and approaches to research."

Humanities and social sciences, with their emphasis on critical thinking, creativity and
evaluation, form an essential part of the overall learning landscape for students in fields
such as engineering, business and health sciences, and the new building will serve
students from all parts of campus.

"The liberal arts are critical to developing creative, independent thinkers and
conscientious citizens," said Dean of Humanities Suzanne Crosta. "This investment will
improve access to the University, enhance academic excellence and provide greater
assistance to the community, reaching far beyond our individual faculties and enriching
our world, both culturally and economically."

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