Dean Pamela Swett to lead the Faculty of Humanities for a second term

A headshot of Dean Pamela Swett

Pamela Swett has been reappointed as dean of McMaster's Faculty of Humanities after a successful first term that saw increased support for research, more community-engaged projects and the launch of Wilson College of Leadership and Civic Engagement.

Pamela Swett, who led the creation of the Faculty of Humanities’ first-ever strategic plan and played a key role in launching the Wilson College of Leadership and Civic Engagement, has been reappointed as dean.  

She will serve a second, five-year term starting on July 1, 2024, after her reappointment was approved by McMaster University’s Senate and Board of Governors. 

“Dean Swett has been a powerful leader for the Faculty of Humanities,” says Susan Tighe, provost and vice-president (Academic). “She has shown a commitment to academic excellence, fostering innovation, interdisciplinary collaboration and community engagement. Her reappointment reflects the confidence the university community has in her ability to continue leading the Faculty to new heights.” 

As dean, Swett led the creation of Inspiring Sustainable Futures, a strategic plan that continues to guide the Faculty of Humanities. She has also been involved with the development and launch of significant Faculty and inter-Faculty programs, including the Integrated Arts (iArts) program and the Bachelor of Health Science in Integrated Rehabilitation Science and Humanities.  

Focusing on expanding Humanities’ impact off campus as well, Swett played a key role in helping to secure the $50 million gift that created the Wilson College of Leadership and Civic Engagement and continues to help lead the college’s development. She also served as the academic lead for the $6 million Future of Canada Project, which culminated in the Imagining Canada: 2080 forum in November 2023.  

I’m honoured to be continuing in my role as dean of the Faculty of Humanities,” Swett says.

“Throughout my first term, which included the unique challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, my colleagues and our students repeatedly demonstrated incredible creativity, resilience and flexibility, and I am thrilled that I am able to serve this fantastic community for another term.” 

Under Swett’s leadership, the Faculty has increased support for research, including its undergraduate student research award program, a range of community-engaged projects, and an expanded Research Time Stipend program for faculty.  

The annual McMaster Employment Equity Census shows that diversity is increasing among staff in the Faculty and three-quarters of tenured, tenure- and teaching-track hires have gone to members of equity-deserving groups since 2020.  

In 2023, 11 PhD students from Humanities received SSHRC doctoral fellowships – the highest number of awards received since 2018. Four of those PhD candidates received Canada Graduate Scholarships 

Swett says she is now looking forward to the redesign of the School of the Arts’ music program and to welcoming the first cohort of Wilson College undergraduate students in 2025, following approval of the Wilson College joint BA in Leadership and Civic Studies and another program in either Humanities or Social Sciences. 

Swett received her PhD in Modern German and European History from Brown University in 1999. She joined McMaster’s Department of History as a faculty member at the end of her graduate studies and served as Chair from 2011 until 2017. From 2016 until her appointment as Dean of the Faculty of Humanities in 2019, she was the Faculty’s associate dean of graduate studies and research. 

As a researcher, Swett is the author or editor of sixbooks, as well as journal articles and book chapters that deal with various aspects of political culture, commerce, and violence in Germany between 1918 and 1945. She has been awarded grants and prizes from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, the Alexander-von Humboldt-Stiftung, the Thyssen Foundation, the German Historical Institute, the American Historical Association and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. 

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