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Student Success Centre: 2022–2023 in Review

Arlene Fajutrao Dosen '94
B.Arts Sc., B.A., M.A.
Executive Director and Assistant Dean, Student Success

Our vision is for all students to thrive and succeed.

As part of Student Affairs, the Student Success Centre champions a holistic support model that respects students’ positionality and intersectionality, beginning with the Access Program and extending beyond the classroom to support student transformation and growth.

Our three pillars of inclusivity, integration and impact allow us to deliver a wraparound approach to student success. We encourage students to holistically approach their learning by bringing in their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual selves; identifying where they are in their unique journey; and supporting them through programming, services, events and strategic connections with our campus partners across the university, including the Office of the Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning), Office of the Registrar, School of Graduate Studies colleagues and Faculty and Program partners.

We also work alongside elected student leaders in the McMaster Students Union and Graduate Students Association to centre student voices.

We know that advancing access and taking a personalized approach is critical to creating a transformative learning experience for students. Through our partnership with the Office of the Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning), we are empowering students by providing them with the resources to personalize their curricular and co-curricular opportunities for experiential learning based on their goals and interests. We are working with Student Accessibility Services and partners to strengthen policies, processes and services that support the academic and career development of students with disabilities. Our partnership with the School of Graduate Studies through the Strategic Alignment Fund has enabled us to expand writing and career development support to graduate students, which will continue into the 2023–2024 year.

We thank our campus and community partners for your continued support and collaboration, and to McMaster students, we thank you, for trusting us and allowing us to be part of your university journey.

Arlene Fajutrao Dosen
B.Arts Sc., B.A., M.A.
Executive Director and Assistant Dean, Student Success

Information Box Group

Inclusivity: Inclusive Excellence

Support the recruitment, engagement and retention of historically underrepresented students and those experiencing barriers by connecting them with targeted initiatives, such as the Access Program and Career Access Professional Services (CAPS). Provide personalized international student support through the Strategic Alignment Fund. Champion a holistic student support model that respects student positionality and intersectionality, leverages their unique strengths and customizes support to enable effective growth and learning.

Integration: Operational Excellence

Build and foster community, strategic purpose and cohesion within the SSC team to support a holistic, transformational and personalized experience for all students. Leverage technological infrastructure and insights to seamlessly integrate with Faculty and Program partners, ensuring customized student experiences supported by a bespoke suite of services.

Impact: Teaching and Learning

Explore expanded ways to support students as they transition to careers and post-graduate study, ensuring they are equipped with the skills and competencies to succeed. Support students in their personal and professional development beyond the classroom through an increased number of opportunities for work-integrated and experiential learning, student mobility and exchange, leadership, innovation and community engagement

8,711 One-on-one student appointments
46K+ Event registrants
6,894Opportunities posted on OSCARplus

We work strategically with Faculty, Program and campus partners to facilitate personalized touchpoints that support our holistic student success model. Learn more about how students from across McMaster’s Faculties and Programs are engaging with us and our services and programs.

The Student Success Centre Model champions a holistic approach to student support that respects the positionality and intersectionality of McMaster students, leverages their unique strengths and customizes the type and intensity of support offered to best enable their development and learning. The Student Success Centre model relies on strong collaboration with our Office of the Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning), Office of the Registrar, School of Graduate Studies colleagues and Faculty and Program partners.

Key Student Engagement Touchpoints

1. Access Program Learn More

McMaster’s Access Program focuses on engaging students from historically underrepresented groups in the Greater Hamilton and Golden Horseshoe Regions through educating, informing and familiarizing students and families with the benefits and possibilities of a post-secondary education at McMaster University.

2. First-Year Experience and Transition Learn More

As part of the Student Success Centre’s commitment to supporting students from the moment they accept their offer of admission, the First-Year Experience and Transition teams help new students navigate university life through offering personalized transition programming, including Mac101, Welcome Week and the Archway Program for off-campus students, to support student success and retention through fostering a sense of belonging for all.

3. International and Exchange Student Experience Learn More

The International and Exchange Student Experience team provides holistic, wraparound services including immigration advising, transition coaching, health insurance (UHIP) administration and community-building events that foster well-being and belonging for our international and incoming exchange students.

4. Writing and Academic Skills Learn More

The Writing and Academic Skills team supports student success at all levels (undergraduate and graduate) by developing and facilitating a range of skills-based programming and services that complement course-specific knowledge, helping students develop transferable skills and leverage existing strengths to achieve their academic goals.

5. Spiritual Care and Learning Centre (SCLC) Learn More

The Spiritual Care and Learning Centre (SCLC) is a multicultural network of community leaders and groups working in collaboration to provide programming and support for religious, spiritual and secular (RSS) identities across campus, launched in consultation with the Interfaith Working Group (IFWG), part of the McMaster President’s Advisory Committee for Building an Inclusive Community (PACBIC).

6. Wilson Leadership Scholar Award (WLSA) Learn More

The Student Success Centre’s leadership programming, including the flagship Wilson Leadership Scholar Award (WLSA), contributes to McMaster’s priorities in teaching and learning by creating more opportunities for students to make transformative impacts on challenging issues, reducing barriers to learning and connecting students with diverse expertise.

7. Financial Literacy (Mac’s Money Centre) Learn More

The Mac’s Money Centre portfolio within the Student Success Centre provides essential financial literacy education through tools, resources and information to help students with their financial knowledge, planning and the development of key skills such as budgeting, saving, investing and building good credit.

8. Experiential Learning: Co-Curricular Learn More

The Student Success Centre offers experiential learning programming and support to connect students with transformative learning opportunities beyond the classroom, including work-integrated learning, volunteering, mentorship and career conversations, job shadowing and more, to equip them with the transferable skills, competencies and experiences needed to make an impact in our world.

9. Career Counselling and Employment Services Learn More

Recognizing that all career journeys are different, the Student Success Centre provides personalized career counselling, further education support and job search coaching for students (undergraduate and graduate) and alumni (up to five years after graduation), as well as Career Access Professional Services (CAPS) for students and alumni with barriers to employment, to support career decision-making and planning.

10. The Forge: Student-Focused Programs Learn More

The Forge is dedicated to driving economic prosperity and social impact through supporting students and startups with programming and resources that foster entrepreneurial thinking and resiliency to accelerate a startup’s growth.

11. Global Experience: Study, Work and Volunteer Abroad Learn More

The Student Success Centre connects students with diverse opportunities and support to gain global experience and develop intercultural skills through the McMaster Exchange Program (study and research abroad), Global Experience Program (work and volunteer abroad), scholarships and awards, and additional programming to make a global impact at home.

12. Marketing, Communications and Events

The Marketing, Communications and Events team collaborates with subject-matter experts across Student Affairs and within the Student Success Centre to foster a sense of belonging for every McMaster student. This occurs through raising awareness of services and programs through inclusive storytelling, digital engagement strategies, visual content development and in-person experiences that promote student engagement and community-building. 

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The Ignite Program is an orientation initiative for incoming first-year international students living in residence that fosters friendships, builds community on and off campus, and connects students with resources to thrive and succeed; hosted in partnership with Housing & Conference Services.

As the official start to students’ university journey, McMaster Welcome during Welcome Week is a chance for students to make friends, learn from university leaders and get inspired by keynote guests (pictured: Maryanne Oketch, iSci grad, Survivor winner).

Welcome Week events like Goat Yoga, hosted in partnership with the Student Wellness Centre, enable students to discover campus life through engaging activities that support their well-being.

Through facilitating peer-to-peer connections and interactions with Student Success Centre staff, events like the First-Year Experience team’s ice cream pop-up foster a sense of belonging outside the classroom and raise awareness of key services like writing and academic skills development. 

As McMaster’s largest recruitment event, Fall Career Fair brings together job-seeking students and employers who want to hire McMaster talent, creating space for personal connections and networking; online in 2022, the Student Success Centre hosted an in-person day to help students prepare and connect with employer sponsors.

Through providing opportunities to connect on campus and in the Hamilton community, such as fun socials, drop-ins and heart-to-hearts, international and exchange students can adjust to living and learning in their new home. 

Hosted in the SSC: Writing and Academic Skills Hub in Mills Library L215, the annual Donut Cheat Day raises awareness of academic integrity in connection to the International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating. 

The annual Exchange Fair, hosted as part of McMaster’s International Education Week, offers a showcase of opportunities for students to study and research abroad through the McMaster Exchange Program, as well as support and funding to remove barriers and promote equitable participation.

With financial wellness continuing to be a top stressor for students, Financial Literacy Month makes it easy for students to engage with essential topics, through events like the panel discussion hosted by The Globe & Mail’s financial experts Rob Carrick and Roma Luciw.

Each year, Entrepreneurship Week fosters entrepreneurial thinking and celebrates innovation across campus, with signature events like The Forge’s Startup Survivor, awarding a total of $75K to emerging student entrepreneurs; the 2022 winners are pictured here with university leaders and staff.

The Spiritual Care and Learning Centre’s annual Harvest Dinner brings together McMaster’s international and exchange student community for a fall-themed meal and celebration of gratitude, hosted in partnership with the McMaster Ecumenical Chaplaincy Centre.

Social and community-building events like the Harvest Festival, hosted in partnership with the Student Wellness Centre, offer students opportunities to take time for their well-being and maintain a sense of belonging during peak academic times like the exam period.

In-person career activities featuring resources like the Challenge Cards, an initiative funded by the McMaster Okanagan Office of Health and Well-being, engage students in proactive career and employment planning.

As a new initiative promoting self-care and well-being during the end of the fall term, the Holiday Market offers social events for all students, whether they celebrate specific winter holidays or not; hosted in partnership with the McMaster Students Union (MSU), MSU Campus Events, Alumni Association and McMaster Hospitality.

Celebrating McMaster’s cultural diversity and fostering a sense of belonging as part of the Taste of Home initiative, international students submit and vote on recipes from home to be served at La Piazza during the Holiday Market. 

Spiritual care manifests itself in various ways on campus, such as through the Soup and Spirit initiative hosted by the McMaster Chaplaincy Centre in connection with the Spiritual Care and Learning Centre.

The First-Year Experience team’s exam and self-care initiatives support student well-being during exam season through peer-to-peer encouragement and motivation.

The International and Exchange Student Experience Hub in MUSC B118 brings together students for events like the Soccer Headquarters Streaming Parties, connecting students across cultures over shared interests. 

The Experiential Learning portfolio connects students from various Faculties and Programs with opportunities for mentorship and skills development, such as the POLSCI 4AL3 course offered in partnership with Faculty of Social Sciences Careers & Experiential Education.

As one of Hamilton’s largest recruitment events, Connect to Careers Job Fair is a place for employers and job seekers to expand their professional networks (hosted in partnership by: Mohawk College; Redeemer University; Workforce Planning Hamilton; and Economic Development, City of Hamilton).

At the Volunteer Leadership Retreat, volunteers for the International Student Buddy Program receive opportunities for professional skills development in return for their work mentoring new international students throughout the year. 

Each year, Mac’s Money Centre and campus and community partners come together to support the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP), resulting in millions of dollars in benefits and credits.

The Multicultural Showcase is a celebration of McMaster’s diverse international and exchange student community through student performances and opportunities for intercultural learning.

Events for international and exchange students are essential in fostering a sense of belonging at McMaster, which in turn supports students’ overall well-being. 

Light Up the Night, an initiative hosted by the McMaster Students Union (MSU) and Office of Alumni Association and supported by Student Affairs, brings students together to celebrate successes at the end of the academic year. 

Through partnered Strategic Alignment Fund initiatives, the Student Success Centre and School of Graduate Studies have expanded services to provide graduate students with customized writing, academic skills and career development support, through programming like the Dissertation Writing Intensive.

Hosted in partnership with the Alumni Association, the Life After Mac Career Development Conference gathers experienced alumni who provide guidance for graduating students as they prepare to enter the workforce.

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.