Skip to main content
Latest News:

Will McMaster return to campus this fall? Podcast Part Two with Ishwar K. Puri and Susan TigheFebruary 22, 2021

In Part 2, we reflect on more lessons learned in virtual teaching and learning, the importance of representation in academia, and McMaster's Provost Susan Tighe answers the question that's on all our minds: Will we return to campus this fall, and how?

Ishwar K. Puri, McMaster’s Dean of Engineering, and Susan Tighe, McMaster’s Provost and Vice-President, academic and a member of the Faculty of Engineering, share their thoughts on the year ahead in this two-part episode. Missed Part 1? Listen here.

Teams at McMaster are currently planning for various re-opening scenarios for Fall 2021, working with Hamilton Public Health and experts in epidemiology at McMaster, said Tighe.

"We are leveraging our experts here at McMaster -- we have some of the best and the brightest who are doing research and testing in COVID-19. That's ongoing right now, and my estimate is that we will come up with maybe three or four plausible scenarios and start to plan accordingly," she added.

Puri discussed the possible future for bricks and mortar universities, and how they might adapt swiftly to a changing higher education landscape.

"The virtual teaching and learning genie is out of the bottle," he said. "Bricks and mortars universities have to double down on the student experience and place more emphasis on durable skills -- those skills that allow graduates to be creative, design solutions to integrate multiple disciplines, solve problems and be innovative."

"In addition to being agile, I think that universities have also learned they have to learn how to be lean," said Puri.

In this episode, Puri and Tighe also reflect on the importance of stronger representation of Black students and faculty in academia, speaking on several initiatives underway at the Faculty level and across the university.

 "Actions speak louder than words," said Tighe, who began her role at McMaster in July 2020, as the global Black Lives Matter movement continued.

"It's enabled us to have some very serious conversations about how we want to move forward. Also, it's enabled us to really make a commitment that we are a place that fosters inclusion, across the board."

As part of the new Strategic Equity and Excellence Recruitment and Retention program within McMaster’s EDI Strategy and Action Plan, McMaster has a cohort hiring initiative that will see up to 12 Black faculty members join across all six faculties.

In January, National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) McMaster Chapter launched a new scholarship that will be awarded annually to Canadian Black students entering the Faculty of Engineering. This scholarship has been covered in local media, including the Hamilton Spectator, 900 CHML and CBC

"It's part of a larger effort that we have, which is to grow the numbers of Black students all the way from undergraduates to graduate students. What we've done is we've looked at various underrepresented demographics, and we have actively raised philanthropic funds for them," said Puri, noting the NSBE scholarship has raised more than $18,000 as of February 2021.

The goal is $62,500 to fund as many students as possible in coming years.

In tandem with these efforts, the Faculty of Engineering also launched the Indigenous and Black Engineering/Technology (IBET) PhD Fellowship in January in partnership with five Ontario universities.

Subscribe and listen to Big Ideas for a Changing World. Available on YouTubeSpotifyApple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.