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Strategic Goals And Priorities 2020-2021

McMaster Strategic Goals and Priorities

McMaster University was founded in 1887 and is governed by the McMaster University Act, 1976. The University has achieved an international reputation as a centre of excellence for teaching and learning, innovation, and creativity. This year, McMaster was again ranked one of only two universities in Ontario among the world’s top 70 universities, and one of only four in Canada (Times Higher Education). Research Infosource 2020 ranked McMaster as Canada’s most research-intensive university for the 4th consecutive year, with a total research income of $372M, averaging $404,000 per faculty member – more than double the national average. 

We serve our community and society by nurturing and supporting the fulfillment of human potential: inspiring creativity and critical thinking, promoting an enduring love of learning and the habit of inquiry, and undertaking innovative research that extends the boundaries and enhances the efficacy of knowledge. We are committed to the advancement of human and societal health and well-being, and ultimately to creating a brighter world for all.

Vision Statement

Impact, Ambition and Transformation through Excellence, Inclusion and Community: Advancing Human and Societal Health and Well-Being.

Mission Statement

At McMaster, our purpose is the discovery, communication, and preservation of knowledge. In our teaching, research, and scholarship, we are committed to creativity, innovation, and excellence. We value integrity, quality, inclusiveness, and teamwork in everything we do. We inspire critical thinking, personal growth, and a passion for lifelong learning. We serve the social, cultural, and economic needs of our community and our society.

Looking Forward with Optimism

Amidst the ongoing global pandemic, McMaster has continued to innovate and adapt to overcome the challenges posed by COVID-19, while also actively planning for the future. McMaster launched Canada’s Global Nexus for Pandemics and Biological Threats, an international network of scientists, clinical health and medical specialists, engineers, social scientists, history and policy researchers, and economics and business experts, devoted to preventing future pandemics, mitigating global health threats, and bolstering the international recovery from the current pandemic. McMaster is uniquely positioned due to its internationally renowned culture of collaboration and track record of success. Even in the virtual environment McMaster continues to focus on providing an optimal student experience, supporting our diverse campus community, and enhancing local, national, and international connections, while advancing research excellence across the campus. 

Strategic Priorities Read More

This past year President David Farrar led the McMaster community through a visioning and strategic planning exercise. This led to the launch of McMaster’s refreshed Vision Statement, which is intended to capture both the depth of our collective aspirations and desire for impact, as well as our commitment to inclusive excellence and serving the global community in all that we do. Through the many discussions and consultations, a clear picture emerged of McMaster’s commitment to making a positive impact on the world. This includes developing the partnerships and collaborations needed to support our scholars and ensuring that we are well positioned to tackle the major local and global issues we face, while building a clear sense of community and belonging for everyone. 

Goal one:  Developing a distinctive, personalized, engaging, and sustainable student experience

McMaster is committed to taking a collaborative, innovative, and interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning. Our students gain practical experience linked to their education and career goals through internships, co-ops, career placements, and career planning workshops and courses. McMaster’s signature pedagogies, such as inquiry and problem-based learning, have been adopted in jurisdictions around the world, transforming post-secondary teaching and learning. Our goal is to continue building on the success of our most creative and innovative programs, providing an enriching and transformative learning experience for all students with increased opportunities for experiential, work-integrated, self-directed, virtual learning, and learning through micro-credentials.

McMaster produces some of Canada’s most employable graduates, according to Times Higher Education. The University ranked fifth in Canada and 77th worldwide, in the Global University Employability Ranking 2020.

In 2020-2021, McMaster enrolled 2,452 credit transfer students (an increase of 7.8 per cent compared to 2019-20) from Ontario universities and colleges. 

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Inclusive Excellence Read More

McMaster aspires to embed an inclusive approach to its student experience that intentionally engages and respects a diversity of learners’ perspectives and ways of learning. In May 2019, after detailed community consultation and planning, McMaster launched its EDI Strategy and Action Plan with a three-year time horizon. The following new initiatives and projects, focused on enhancing EDI in the student experience, are underway:

Pandemic Response Read More

As academic programs moved rapidly online in response to the pandemic, a range of initiatives were launched to facilitate a successful transition for students:

Experiential Learning Learn More

Across the University, students are offered experiential learning experiences, career readiness opportunities, and work-integrated learning experiences. Recent initiatives include:

Innovative Programming Read More

To meet societal and labour market needs and student demand, McMaster continues to develop new and innovative programs, including rapid training opportunities through micro-credentials and inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary offerings. Recent initiatives include:

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McMaster responded to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic by operating in a largely virtual teaching and learning environment for the 2020-2021 academic year. The University continued its focus on providing a high-quality virtual learning experience and has made several innovations to support this that will continue into the future. A few select examples are as follows:

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Several recent initiatives in health and well-being highlight McMaster’s leadership in developing a distinctive, personalized, and sustainable student experience while navigating the virtual environment of the pandemic, including:

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McMaster continues to create and support programs that emphasize skills training and work-integrated learning to prepare students for careers in a continuously changing work environment:

In 2020-21, 94.8% of 2019 graduates of undergraduate programs participated in at least one course with Experiential Learning components (Strategic Mandate Agreement Metric 7) and McMaster saw an 18 per cent increase in the number of students undertaking a co-op work term, with over 5,100 co-op work terms reported in 2018-19.

The MacChangers program is a co-curricular program, jointly run by the Faculty of Engineering and the Office of Community Engagement, that focuses on the UN Sustainable Development Goals and is intended to build a more resilient Hamilton community. Interdisciplinary teams of McMaster students commit eight months to developing innovative solutions to local and global societal issues, which this year included: pedestrian safety, the opioid crisis, resilient infrastructure, and social sustainability.  

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In 2020-2021, McMaster enrolled 2,452 credit transfer students (an increase of 7.8 per cent compared to 2019-20) from Ontario universities and colleges. McMaster continues to emphasize career preparedness and McMaster students consistently excel in metrics related to employment after graduation:

In the 2020 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), 82 per cent of respondents rated their entire McMaster educational experience as good, or excellent, compared with Ontario’s average of 74 per cent.

The first year of the Student Transition to Education Program in the Social Sciences (STEPSS) received positive feedback from Level I students and engaged 139 incoming students. The program offered a tuition-free mini course on “Surviving and Thriving in the Social Sciences,” pointed students towards central programs, and guided students through the enrolment process. 

McMaster is committed to taking an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning and in 2020-21, 52% of students were enrolled in interdisciplinary programs (Strategic Mandate Agreement Metric 2). 

McMaster prepares graduates for successful careers, with 82% of Fall 2013 full-time, first-year undergraduate students graduating from McMaster within 7 years (Strategic Mandate Agreement Metric 3).

Goal two: Enhancing the connections between McMaster and the communities we serve, locally, provincially, nationally and around the globe.

McMaster remains committed to public service and fostering collaboration between the University and community partners. This work enables us to better understand and consider the issues identified as priorities by local and global communities, including this year continuing to overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic. In addition to our focus on building connections at the local, provincial, national, and global levels, McMaster also supports the broader community through our work to foster a diverse campus community and create enhanced pathways and improved opportunities for equity deserving groups. Our alumni community of more than 213,000, based in countries around the world, also support us in building connections globally.

“Canada’s Global Nexus for Pandemics and Biological Threats will recruit global talent, boost global health security, train graduate students, provide jobs and economic growth and make Canada a global destination for investment and innovation.”

Dr. Gerry Wright 
Lead, Canada’s Global Nexus for Pandemics and Biological Threats

McMaster placed 14th in the world in the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Ranking for 2021. This international ranking recognizes the impact universities are making in their own countries and on a global scale. 

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Canada’s Global Nexus for Pandemics and Biological Threats will support decision-makers, system leaders, businesses, communities, and the public in developing and deploying relevant and timely solutions to prevent, prepare for, and protect against pandemics and biological threats. Canada’s Global Nexus leverages our collective strength and international networks, building an environment for the world’s top experts to work together across disciplines and sectors to solve the most pressing issues related to pandemics and biological threats. 

The McMaster Okanagan Committee recently launched an interactive website ( which contains an inventory of McMaster’s programs, services, research and courses regarding health and well-being initiatives. Over the past year, the McMaster Okanagan Committee (MOC) transitioned to online and virtual programming and worked to expand its social media presence by adding daily health and well-being tips to its Instagram and Facebook accounts. The website received international attention and is part of McMaster’s commitment to the Okanagan Charter, which the University signed in 2017.

Inclusive Excellence Read More

As part of McMaster’s focus on advancing issues of equity and inclusion and building a diverse and vibrant campus community, over the last year EDI Action Plan priorities have focused on the recruitment, engagement, and retention of students, staff, and faculty.

Indigenous Initiatives Read More

With the guidance of the Indigenous Education Council, the University continues to focus on advancing and supporting Indigenous initiatives, providing enhanced opportunities for Indigenous faculty, staff, and students, and addressing the recommendations arising from the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

Engagement with the City of Hamilton Read More

McMaster continues to lead and actively engage in a range of initiatives within the City of Hamilton, including:

International Networks Read More

McMaster seeks to build a strong network of international partnerships, including research collaborations, internships, and exchanges with institutions around the globe, and supports our students and faculty in developing such connections:

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In recognition of McMaster’s work and focus on employment equity, the University was named one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers in 2020. For the sixth year in a row, McMaster was also named one of Hamilton-Niagara’s Top Employers. With approximately 12,000 faculty and staff, McMaster is one of the largest employers in the Greater Hamilton Area.

In 2019-20, McMaster welcomed 6,820 full-time, first-generation students (representing about 21 per cent of McMaster’s Fall full-time student enrolment), 536 (1.7 per cent) Indigenous learners (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit) and 2,465 (7.6 per cent) students with disabilities. McMaster continually strives to improve access to underrepresented groups through pathway programs and initiatives.

McMaster placed 14th in the world in the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Ranking for 2021. This international ranking recognizes the impact universities are making in their own countries and on a global scale. The ranking is based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations, which are designed to address the most serious challenges facing our world. McMaster placed 1st in Canada in Decent Work and Economic Growth and Partnerships for the SDGs, and 4th overall in the Good Health and Well-Being SDG. 

The School of Nursing began development of a new Nurse Residency Program in partnership with Nunavut/St. Joseph’s Healthcare to address the increasing demand for nurses in Nunavut. This program will support the transition of newly graduated nurses from the Accelerated Stream BScN into the Nunavut nursing workforce.

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McMaster is committed to improving the lives of people in the communities the University serves by partnering with community stakeholders to find creative solutions to complex challenges through research. Community-focused research initiatives include:

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McMaster has found ways to continue to positively engage the community in its academic programming and collaborations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic:

McMaster plays a critically important role in the transformation of Hamilton with students making up 9.1 per cent of the Hamilton population between the ages of 15-64 (Strategic Mandate Agreement Metric 4). 

McMaster programs provide high-quality preparation for future careers. In the 2019 Ontario University Graduate Survey of McMaster’s 2017 graduates, 92.7 per cent of those in full-time employment indicated that they were in employment that was closely related or somewhat related to the skills they studied at university. The Ontario average is 90 per cent (source: Ministry of Colleges and Universities’ 2019 Ontario University Graduate Survey; Strategic Mandate Agreement Metric 1). 

McMaster prepares graduates for meaningful lives and careers, as evidenced by the 2017 median employment earnings two years after graduation of $56,631.28 (source: Education and Labour Market Longitudinal Platform, Statistics Canada; Strategic Mandate Agreement Metric 9).

With the guidance of the Indigenous Education Council, the University continues to focus on advancing and supporting Indigenous initiatives, providing enhanced opportunities for Indigenous faculty, staff, and students.

Goal three: Strengthening the excellence of our research and our graduate education and training, while seeking opportunities to integrate research more purposefully into our academic mission.

Ranked as Canada’s most research-intensive university for four consecutive years, McMaster excels at interdisciplinary and collaborative research, working with industry, government, community partners, as well as other academic institutions around the globe. Our research reflects current and emerging issues of relevance to our local and global communities and has impact across a wide range of disciplines. We continue to build on our track record in technology transfer and entrepreneurship to provide opportunities to our faculty and students and bridge the gap between research and commercial application. Committed to engaging students in research activities, we strive to integrate research and teaching across our programming. Our graduate training is central to sustaining our research intensity and we are committed to equipping graduate students in all programs with the practical skills and experiential knowledge that will enable them to translate their academic achievements into success after graduation. 

Research Infosource 2020 ranked McMaster as Canada’s most research-intensive university for the 4th consecutive year, with a total research income of $372M, averaging $404,000 per faculty member – more than double the national average.

The Ontario Together Fund invested $1.2M in McMaster’s Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials (CEPEM), Canada’s first and only research hub dedicated to developing, testing, and validating personal protective equipment (PPE).

Since the beginning of the pandemic, our federal, provincial, and industry partners have invested more than $60M to support more than 150 COVID-related research projects across campus.

McMaster’s expertise in data, smart technologies, communications, and AI is helping industries, governments, and policymakers make informed and evidenced-based decisions.

Inclusive Excellence

McMaster received an EDI stipend from the federal Tri-agency Secretariat to advance inclusive excellence in the research ecosystem. The funds have been used to seed a research project examining the barriers to, and enablers of, equitable and inclusive retention and recognition processes, with the goal of engaging and advancing diverse scholars and research chairholders. 

A $1.2M grant from Indigenous Services Canada will provide palliative care training and coaching for community-based teams in Indigenous, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities, building on previous work on palliative care within these communities.

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Through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s Exceptional Opportunities Fund, McMaster researchers received $1.5M to address the impact of SARS-CoV-2 on human and animal hosts; track its spread through our communities using genomics approaches; leverage this information in the development of new diagnostics; discover and develop new antiviral therapies and trace the course of infection in individuals using serological studies, which are essential for vaccine development.

The Ontario Together Fund invested $1.2M in McMaster’s Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials (CEPEM), Canada’s first and only research hub dedicated to developing, testing, and validating personal protective equipment (PPE). Through the CEPEM, more than 100 faculty, technical staff, and students are collaborating with regional manufacturers and government agencies to design, develop, and test PPE and strengthen Canada’s supply chain.

Two McMaster projects received CITF awards totalling some $1.5M to study the use of vaccines in the South Asian and First Nations communities. Researchers are investigating vaccine access, immunogenicity, effectiveness, and safety among South Asians in Ontario and British Columbia as well as vaccine access, uptake, effectiveness, and safety in First Nations Communities.

With Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, MITACS, and industry funding, researchers at McMaster are developing an oral delivery system for COVID-19 vaccines using thin polymer strips. This convenient and easily administered technique could eliminate subcutaneous injection, and the requirement for trained healthcare professionals, in the vaccination process.

McMaster received almost $1M from the Ontario government to help detect COVID-19 in wastewater, allowing researchers to deliver early warnings to municipalities before a spike in new cases occurs, and enhancing the ability of local public health units to identify, monitor, and manage potential outbreaks.

McMaster researchers are leading two of Canada’s four national pandemic response research networks: The COVID-19 Evidence Network (COVID-END) – designed to provide rapid evidence profiles for decision-makers – and a national modelling network. Both bring together experts from across Canada to share the latest research findings and help inform public health policy in real-time.

Researchers associated with Canada’s Global Nexus have been assisting the Public Health Agency of Canada to better understand the spread of COVID variants of concern; made recommendations to inform Ontario’s vaccine rollout; lent their expertise to federal and provincial decision makers; and are undertaking significant research projects to develop and deploy relevant and timely solutions to prevent, prepare for, and protect against pandemics and biological threats.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research awarded $2.5M to support the McMaster HealthLabs Canadian International COVID-19 Surveillance Border Study at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research invested $2.6M to support two initiatives: the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging’s COVID-19 Platform that provides the research community in Canada and elsewhere with access to data to address urgent COVID-related questions; and COVID-19 Research Gaps and Priorities, designed to provide rigorous systematic summaries of the best available evidence from randomized clinical trials to inform COVID-19 treatment recommendations and develop trustworthy clinical practice guidelines.

McMaster researchers led numerous intervention studies aimed at curbing hospitalizations due to COVID-19, including a multi-centred clinical trial testing the efficacy of serum transfusion from convalescent patients to those with active COVID-19. These researchers are also examining health inequities across multiple marginalized groups (homeless, BIPOC) in terms of disease management and vaccine roll out.

Beyond health care, the DeGroote School of Business is supporting the airline sector in understanding the relative risks of incoming flights and engaging local non-profits and Business Improvement Areas to make them more resilient. Faculty are also collaborating with energy providers and customers to assess the impact of energy costs in the work from home environment and build safeguards to address cybercrime targeting seniors. In addition, DeGroote researchers are engaged in informing software design to address hospital readmission and support resource allocation through the pandemic.

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McMaster researchers continue to focus on the health and well-being of our local, national, and global communities:

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In addition to the McMaster Nuclear Reactor (MNR), McMaster houses an integrated suite of nuclear-related research facilities that enable discoveries in medicine, clean energy, nuclear safety, materials, and environmental science:

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McMaster is known for its innovation and excellence in advanced materials and manufacturing research:

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McMaster researchers are recognized for their leadership in working to create equitable and sustainable societies:

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McMaster’s expertise in data, smart technologies, communications, and AI is helping industries, governments, and policymakers make informed and evidenced-based decisions:

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The McMaster Industry Liaison Office (MILO) bridges the gap from research to commercial application and creates positive economic and social impact in the region. Recent initiatives include:

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In 2020, McMaster ranked first in the country for research intensity, averaging $404,000 per faculty member, and totalling $372M in sponsored research income (Re$earch Infosource). We are one of only two Ontario universities consistently ranked among the world’s top 70 universities and currently ranked fourth in Canada (Times Higher Education).

From 2015 to 2019, McMaster researchers generated over $1.8B in external research funding (Re$earch Infosource), and McMaster attracted approximately $200M in industry sponsored research (source: Council of Ontario Finance Officers 2018-19; Strategic Mandate Agreement Metric 8).

The strength of McMaster’s research is seen in the 2020 listing of the world’s most highly-cited researchers from Clarivate Analytics. The listing included 18 McMaster researchers. Based on Clarivate Analytics data, McMaster ranks second within the U15 in Category Normalized Citation Impact (over the last 10 years – 2011 to 2020).

Over the last year, MILO recorded 88 invention disclosures (source: AUTM 2018-19; Strategic Mandate Agreement Metric 5), 28 patents issued, $4.3M in licensing revenues, and over 800 research-related agreements. For COVID-related work alone, project values totalled nearly $6.3M.

McMaster has been allocated 86 Canada Research Chairs (CRCs) and is home to 118 endowed chairs, 13 endowed professorships, one Canadian Institutes of Health Research Chair, six Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Industrial Research Chairs, and two Ontario Research Chairs.

In 2019-20, researchers, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows received $104.7M from the federal granting councils: $60.8M from CIHR; $32.6M from NSERC; and $11.3M from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). In 2018-19, 10.3 per cent of McMaster’s funding was from the Tri-Agency Granting Councils (source: Tri-Agency Institutional Programs Secretariat; Strategic Mandate Agreement Metric 6).

The Province of Ontario invested $1M in Canada’s Global Nexus for Pandemics and Biological Threats to establish a library of designed chemicals for new antibiotic drugs, and the development of on-line educational modules to inform the public, scientists, and clinicians on the most up to date research and understanding of the Antimicrobial Resistance crisis.

McMaster was awarded $10M from FedDev Ontario to support an integrated automotive, aerospace, and advanced manufacturing network. Known as iHub, the state-of-the-art facility will expand the existing facilities at McMaster Innovation Park and leverage another $16.8M from industry partners. iHub will connect researchers with large automotive and aerospace manufacturers that require solutions, expanding opportunities for local suppliers from across southern Ontario to integrate into global supply chains. The network is expected to support more than 230 SMEs, spanning the manufacturing corridor from Windsor to Oshawa, facilitate commercialization of 100 new products and services, and create significant employment.

Sixteen McMaster University researchers have been awarded $2.3M from the SSHRC Insight program to support projects ranging from Gateway Cities to big data, to the social interactions of making music, to union politics in the 21st Century. Eleven researchers from the DeGroote School of Business received funding from the Insight and Insight Development programs to support research and student training.

McMaster Innovation Park supports start-ups and scale-ups with a focus on life sciences and biotechnology; engineering and advanced manufacturing; and information and communication technology. Already home to 70 companies, with more than 800 people working onsite, the University is creating new commercialization space at MIP to support researchers in bringing their ideas to market.

In 2019-2020, several McMaster faculty were recognized for their research excellence: three were appointed to the Order of Canada; two were named to the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, one was inducted as a Fellow, and one was awarded the RSC’s McLaughlin Medal; one garnered Canada’s Steacie Prize; one was awarded the O. Harold Warwick Prize from the Canadian Cancer Society; one was awarded the Colton Medal; one was inducted into the Hamilton Gallery of Distinction; one was celebrated among Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Awards; and five were named Fellows of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.

Nine researchers attracted $2.25M from the New Frontiers Research Fund’s Exploration stream, designed to support collaborative high-risk, high-reward interdisciplinary and international research. 

The Canada Foundation for Innovation awarded more than $35M to five projects to build and expand the infrastructure to bolster McMaster’s nationally recognized strengths in materials research and healthy aging, and train the next generation of highly qualified personnel.

Fact Book: goals and priorities 2020-2021

Any questions concerning the contents of this book should be directed to:

Institutional Research and Analysis

McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario  L8S 4L8
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