By: Jeff Low
In August 2010, the Student Success Centre opened its doors for the first time to thousands of McMaster students seeking support with academic skills, career and employment services, and orientation and transition.
Now, to commemorate its tenth anniversary, the SSC and its community are taking time to celebrate and reflect on the last decade.
“Ten years ago, our goal was to establish a place where all students go for all their student service needs with a single director. I’m pleased that under the leadership of Gina Robinson (who is still the director today), 10 years later, our goals were superceded. The SSC today has become the go-to place for an expanded host of student services for both domestic and international students alike. I couldn’t be more proud,” says Dr. Philip Wood, associate vice president (AVP), Student Affairs when the SSC was founded.
“It’s not that students need more help today than in the past … but that students have always needed help and not had an easy time finding it.” This idea, which appeared in a Hamilton Spectator article on August 19, 2010, to celebrate the Centre’s launch, was the mandate upon which the Student Success Centre was created. As an accessible hub and one-stop help centre, the SSC was founded as a greatest hits of essential services, student experiences and resources for students.
However, the team continued to dream bigger, grow and work to anticipate new student needs with each incoming class.
“Over the last 10 years, the SSC has evolved as the needs of McMaster students have changed,” explains Sean Van Koughnett, associate vice president (students and learning) and dean of students.
“Support for international students, strengthened career development and guidance, and the creation of more global exchange and work opportunities are a few examples of how the SSC adapted to continue to enable student success.”
So, what began as a collection of essential services soon grew into a multi-faceted network and support system of specialized services and personalized support, with the integration of international student services, global experience and McMaster exchange portfolios. New programs also emerged out of Faculty partnerships and community collaboration, including The Writing Centre, experiential learning offerings, Mac’s Money Centre and Career Access Professional Services for equity-seeking students.
Despite all this change, the SSC maintained its student-based development and service delivery model, with student staff, mentors, volunteers and peer leaders taking a collaborative approach in fostering a positive student experience. This collaboration continues to play an integral role within the department.
“Having students integrated into our service delivery and program development is core to our success,” says Gina Robinson, director of the SSC and assistant dean. “What would a Student Success Centre be without students? Our students tell us what other students are going through and what they need from us. Our model keeps us relevant and accountable. Their ability to influence and tell their story has been invaluable.”
Today, the SSC is continuing to expand, especially in the areas of online learning support, with a brand new web page designed in collaboration with University Technology Services and a new model for remote service delivery.
“It has been an incredible 10 year journey of growth, development and commitment of the SSC term in serving our students! I can only imagine what the next 10 years will bring with the recent digital innovations and new collaborations inspired by our current circumstances. I am thinking transformative in the best way possible,” says Gina.
Every person who has interacted with the SSC has a story and something they’ve learned that they can pay forward. Over the following months, the SSC will be sharing videos and throwback content on social media to share memories and celebrate the stories of all the people who have helped make the department what it is today.