Initiatives supporting equity-deserving groups at McMaster awarded more than $2 million

The deadline to submit proposals for the next round of Strategic Excellence and Equity in Recruitment and Retention (STEER/R) funding is Nov. 15.

Nine projects that support equity-deserving groups at McMaster have received more than $2 million through a program to improve equality of access and opportunity, enhance inclusion and drive the university’s aspirations toward excellence.

Students, faculty and staff are eligible for one-time, multi-year funding of these initiatives as part of the Strategic Excellence and Equity in Recruitment and Retention (STEER/R) program.

Launched in November 2020, STEER/R first supported the cohort hiring of up to 12 exceptional Black scholars and the establishment of the Black Student Success Centre.

Members of McMaster’s campus community were then invited to submit proposals to be reviewed and assessed for eligibility twice yearly, as $10 million was committed over five years by the Office of the Provost.

“I am thankful to leaders across McMaster for championing projects that are impactful, relevant and sustainable in support of inclusive excellence,” says Susan Tighe, provost and vice-president (Academic).

“These initiatives are exciting for the Office of the Provost and for the broader university community. I look forward to reviewing more applications this fall.”

The next deadline for submitting proposals is Nov. 15, 2022. Find application forms, information and terms of reference on the Office of the Provost’s website.

This will be the second call for proposals. The first was completed in June 2022, when a number of initiatives aimed at supporting Black students, scholars and staff were prioritized.

The provost, in consultation with the STEER/R Program Advisory Group, is frontloading the awarding of funds given the high quality and number of submissions.

Among the nine initiatives awarded full or partial funding is a proposal by the African Caribbean Faculty Association of McMaster (ACFAM) that will have an institution-wide impact.

Nearly $1 million will be used over two years to strengthen systems, networks and program infrastructure to advance Black excellence at McMaster.

This will include funding to support an existing faculty peer-mentorship initiative (THRIVE), development of an interdisciplinary minor in African and Black Diaspora Studies, the McMaster African and Caribbean Leadership Exchange (MACLeads) Equitable Global Skills Opportunity project and the Black Student Mentorship Program (BSMP).

“These initiatives developed by ACFAM members have all gained momentum and value, and now need financial support to thrive sustainably and bolster Black excellence,” says Juliet Daniel, associate dean of research and external relations in the Faculty of Science and a founding member of ACFAM.

“The STEER/R funding will reinforce and maintain McMaster as a leader of Black Academic Excellence across Canada.”

At the Faculty of Engineering, STEER/R will co-fund a Black student recruitment and career advisor. The position will provide recruitment, mentorship and career supports for Black undergraduate students and create pathways for Black students to pursue graduate studies in engineering.

“The Faculty of Engineering is committed to inclusive excellence and to recruiting top undergraduate students from equity-deserving groups,” says Dean Heather Sheardown. “Our vision is for this position to support Black student success from both an academic and career perspective.”

Funding was also granted to the Faculty of Humanities to hire a Black post-doctoral fellow who will serve as a research co-ordinator under professor Ingrid Waldron. The researcher will be tasked with exploring access to mental health services among Black youth in Hamilton over a two-year period.

“I welcome this funding not only for the research it will produce, but also for the relationships we expect to develop with Hamilton’s Black-led community organizations,” Waldron says. “Positive engagement between Black youth living in Hamilton and McMaster will help instill greater knowledge among local youth about the importance of mental health care and it may even lead to the recruitment of youth participants to our undergraduate programs.”

The post-doctorate fellow will have the opportunity to collaborate with members of community groups, including Waldron’s lead partner organization, Empowerment Squared, and serve as a mentor for student research assistants.

Within the Faculty of Health Sciences, the Departments of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact (HEI) and Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences were awarded STEER/R funding for the development and implementation of education and training. In addition, the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences received funding for the recruitment of undergraduate students to a summer research program for equity-deserving groups.

Other projects that received full or partial funding aim to improve student access, experience and success; faculty and staff hiring, engagement and career progression; and leadership advancement among equity-deserving groups.

Outcomes for proposals submitted by Nov. 15 are anticipated by Dec. 15, but may take longer depending on the volume and nature of applications received.