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Student Affairs | The McMaster Student Experience: A Place for Everyone

 A Message from Sean Van Koughnett, Associate Vice-President (Students and Learning), Dean of Students

In August 2013, I started as Associate Vice-President (Students and Learning) & Dean of Students at McMaster. Over the past decade, this community has risen to the many challenges we’ve faced to offer a student experience that rivals any other. Reflecting on all the accomplishments we’ve shared, it’s important to recognize how special this place is. We have worked collaboratively. We have searched for ways to constantly improve. And we have always taken an inclusive, student-centred approach. I couldn’t be more proud.

Thank you for being part of this journey.

Vision, Mission and Core Themes

Our vision is to be a community for every student to belong, become and contribute. As partners in learning, we provide our students with opportunities to discover, learn and grow.

In Student Affairs, we take a holistic approach in our relationships with students — a community of more than 37,000 students from more than 120 countries who come to McMaster with unique stories, experiences and dreams. We collaborate with campus and community stakeholders, including Faculty and Program colleagues, to foster student potential by supporting the whole student and their well-being, creating a sense of belonging and offering experiences beyond the classroom that enable student transformation and growth.

All these themes work together to support student success; a strong foundation of well-being and belonging allows for transformation and growth to occur.

It’s very easy to feel like just another number in a sea of students at university, so what meant the most to me was having someone in my corner who genuinely cared about me and my success

Christian, Undergraduate Student, Faculty of Engineering

Our Values

We believe in the potential of every student

We support students in fulfilling their goals and aspirations by believing in their ability to transform themselves and our world







We learn and grow together

We embrace the diversity of our students and evolve and adapt to meet their needs

We share responsibility and success

We work openly and collaboratively across campus to deliver the best possible student experience

We deliver

We prioritize and execute on what contributes the greatest value to students

Facts and Figures

Total Sources of Funding for Student Affairs: 2022–2023

Student Affairs is supported primarily through compulsory ancillary fees, university operating framework allocation, ministry funding, medical billings and other revenue. In fiscal year 2023, the actual operating allocation represents about 22% of the total funding sources for Student Affairs ($38.58M, excluding Housing & Conference Services). 

Other revenue includes Athletics & Recreation facility rentals, camp registration fees, instructional programming, events, donations and other miscellaneous income.

* The Housing & Conference Services budget is not part of the Student Affairs budget envelope, but it is included as part of the funding sources based on the division’s dual reporting to the Associate Vice-President (Students and Learning) and Vice-President (Operations and Finance). Aligned with the Student Affairs core themes of well-being, belonging, and transformation and growth, Housing & Conference Services plays an integral role in creating an environment where on-campus students can belong, become and contribute.

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For more information on how we’re measuring impact across Student Affairs, visit the division sections below and click to learn more about the priorities that guide their work.

Student Affairs Divisions

Our Student Affairs model relies on strong collaboration with colleagues from the Office of the Registrar, Office of the Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning), Office of International Affairs, School of Graduate Studies, and Faculty and Program partners to provide holistic, personalized student support based on our themes of belonging, well-being, and transformation and growth.

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Partners in Learning

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At McMaster, we provide personalized support for the whole student. Services are delivered both centrally and at the Faculty or Program level, working together to meet unique student needs. The following examples of partnership in learning are inspired by real student experiences at our university. They demonstrate how every student’s unique journey comes with a guided, customizable pathway of support that is holistic rather than linear, and a shared responsibility.

Advancing McMaster’s Institutional Priorities and Strategic Goals

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The following section highlights initiatives, programs, collaborations and partnerships, service delivery improvements and more from the past academic year that uphold our commitment to the university’s strategic vision, working toward creating a brighter world for our McMaster community.

Our Way Forward

As we think ahead to the coming year, we are hopeful that together, we will continue to adapt and rise to the challenge of meeting students’ evolving needs through innovative collaboration and partnership. Providing a holistic, personalized and transformative student experience takes all of us, so thank you to everyone who has contributed to making Student Affairs a community for every student to belong, become and contribute.