Skip to main content
Skip to McMaster Navigation Skip to Site Navigation Skip to main content
McMaster logo
COVID-19 information and updates

Find the most recent updates here, as well as FAQs and information for students, faculty and staff.

Dr. Jeremiah Hurley

The next five: A conversation with reappointed Dean Jeremiah Hurley

Mar 09, 2020

On July 1, 2020, Jeremiah Hurley will begin his second five-year term as dean of social sciences. The reappointment, passed by Senate in February and Board of Governors earlier this month, will come as little surprise for many in our community. 

In a conversation about his next term, Jerry opens up about his plans, successes and ideas for the future.

On pursuing a second term

Why did I want a second term as dean? In short, there’s a lot more I hope to accomplish. The Faculty is in a different place than it was when I started as dean. In 2015, we were faced with fiscal challenges that demanded a lot of time and attention. As a result, much of the past five years has been spent remediating those issues and instituting safeguards to prevent them in the future. Now, we’re in a position to engage in strategic planning and to invest more in areas that we really want to develop.

On the accomplishments of the first five years

If I had to choose three things that I’m most proud of the Faculty for accomplishing these past four—nearly five—years, I would flag the following. As I’ve already referenced, the first one is improving the Faculty’s fiscal standing. We really reversed our fortunes in this respect. While there is still some uncertainty, we have a foundation to build on in the years ahead. The second is our increased degree of research activities, as documented by external research funding, tri-council funding and so forth. That’s an important indicator. Third, we’ve supported our student recruitment efforts such that we have been able to grow enrolment while also raising our entrance grade cut-off, thereby attracting students who are more likely to succeed—and excel—in our programs.

On the priorities for 2020 and beyond

My last four years have been focused on trying to position us as a sustainable, robust faculty. Having done that now, I envision the next term will entail more conscious investing in strategic directions that will move us forward in terms of our programming and research. That’s why I’m eager to move ahead with our Social Sciences strategic planning process. I’d like it to be done early enough to act on. I didn’t want to wait another year and lose that time because I want this process to inform what we do. 

On taking a break

In order to move things along, I won’t be taking a research leave before starting my second five-year term. I may take a six-month leave part-way through my term. 

On the strategic planning exercise

Planning for the strategic planning process is underway.  Although this will not be the only way to contribute, a key component of the process will be both faculty and staff retreats, to be scheduled for Fall 2020. To learn more about the strategic planning exercise as it develops, speak to your chair or director. 

On the future of the Faculty of Social Sciences

The future of the Faculty of Social Sciences will be in large part driven by the faculty. What do they want this place to look like? I have my thoughts and I’m in a position to exert them to a certain degree but it’s important for me, as part of the strategic planning process, to get faculty to be thinking about what kind of Faculty they want us to be and how they can contribute to that vision.

On McMaster’s overarching strategic plan

As David Farrar prepares for his term as president and vice-chancellor, he will be undertaking his own visioning and strategic process, but our timing will allow for his process and the Faculty’s process to overlap and develop together. Some common strategic themes I suspect will emerge across campus include strengthening our research, enhancing interdisciplinarity, finding ways to foster more interaction and exchange within our faculty and across faculties, and internationalizing the McMaster community.