May 4, 2006

Stephen Lewis to join McMaster faculty

By Jane Christmas

    (L-R) Susan Watt, Associate Dean, Social Sciences; Stephen Lewis, Social Sciences Scholar-in-Residence; Mamdouh Shoukri, Vice-President, Research & International Affairs; Susan Elliott, Dean, Social Sciences. Photo credit: Glenn Lowson
Stephen Lewis, the United Nation's Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, has been named McMaster University's first Social Sciences Scholar-in-Residence. His appointment takes effect July 1.

"We're absolutely delighted," said Susan Elliott, dean of Social Sciences. "This is a chance of a lifetime for our students, who will reap the benefits of learning from a true Canadian icon. The appointment will also reach beyond the University's boundaries, benefiting the entire community. In addition to his teaching and research, Stephen is committed to the community, and has agreed to deliver two public lectures."

As Scholar-in-Residence, Lewis will teach both undergraduate and graduate students, and will conduct research within the Faculty of Social Sciences. His position will be linked to the Institute on Globalization and the Human Condition.

"I'm excited about the possibilities, and I consider it a great opportunity to work with students, and exchange ideas, wisdom and experiences," said Lewis. "McMaster's Faculty of Social Sciences is unusually progressive, and I'm thrilled to be part of it. I told them at Convocation 27 years ago that I'd be back, and here I am."

Named a Companion of the Order of Canada, and Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People, Lewis has been a tireless advocate for Africa and for children, and in focusing world attention on Africa's battle against HIV/AIDS. His bold, passionate essays on Africa and poverty were the basis of the 2005 Massey Lectures, and are collected in his book Race Against Time (published Oct. 2005).

Lewis holds 22 honorary degrees from Canadian universities, but, as President Peter George noted, McMaster gave Lewis his first.

"He was recognized as 'a man who truly stands on his own merits', and he's every bit that man now as he was then," said George.

While undertaking his responsibilities as Scholar-in-Residence, Lewis will continue his roles as UN envoy, commissioner to the World Health Organization's Commission on the Social Determinants of Health, special advisor to the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, and board chair of the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

The appointment is a one-year term, and Lewis will receive adjunct professor status with the Faculty in perpetuity.