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McMaster University (Mac) is a public research university located in Hamilton, Ontariomarker, Canadamarker. It bears the name of William McMaster, a prominent Canadian Senator and banker whose substantial bequeathed funds helped form the beginning of the university. The institution was originally incorporated under the terms of an act of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in 1887. McMaster was originally located in Torontomarker and moved to its present home in Hamilton in 1930. Originally controlled by the Baptist Convention of Ontario, it became a non-denominational private institution in 1957.

The university operates six academic faculties: Science, Health Sciences, Engineering, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Business, with an enrollment of 20,600 full-time undergraduate students and 2,901 postgraduate students. The main campus is located on of land in the residential neighbourhood of Westdale adjacent to Hamilton's Royal Botanical Gardensmarker.

The university is noted as strong in the fields of Health Sciences and Engineering and has been named Canada's most innovative medical-doctoral university eight times in the past eleven years. The university was ranked 89th in a 2008 ranking of the top 500 universities worldwide.


McMaster University was the result of the outgrowth of educational work initiated by Baptists in central Canada as early as the 1830s. Canadian Senator William McMaster, the first president of the Canadian Bank of Commerce, bequeathed funds to endow a university which was incorporated through a merger of Toronto Baptist College and Woodstock College, under the terms of an act of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in 1887. The new University, housed in McMaster Hall in Toronto, was sponsored by the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec as a sectarian undergraduate institution for its clergy and adherents. The first courses, initially limited to arts and theology, leading to the BA degree were taught in 1890, and the first degrees were conferred in 1894.

McMaster University in Toronto circa 1906
The university nearly became federated with the University of Torontomarker, as had been the case with Trinity Collegemarker and Victoria Collegemarker. However, the University was instead transferred from Toronto to Hamilton in 1930. The lands for the university and new buildings were secured through gifts from graduates, members of the churches of the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec, and citizens of Hamilton. McMaster Hall, the original home of the university, now houses the Royal Conservatory of Musicmarker.

Professional programs during the interwar period had been limited to theology and nursing. By the 1940s the McMaster administration was under pressure to modernize and expand the university's programs. During the Second World War and post war periods the demand for technological expertise, particularly in the sciences, increased. This placed a strain on the finances of what was still a denominational Baptist institution. In particular, the institution could no longer secure sufficient funds from denominational sources alone to sustain science research. Since denominational institution could not receive public funds the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec decided to reorganize the University, creating two federated colleges. The arts and divinity programs were reconstituted as University College and science was reorganized under the newly created Hamilton College as a separate division capable of receiving provincial grants.

Through the 1950s increased funding advanced the place of sciences within the institution. Public funding was eventually necessary to ensure the humanities and social sciences were given an equal place. Thus, in 1957 the University reorganized once again, merging the two colleges and becoming a private nondenominational institution eligible for public funding. The historic Baptist connection was continued through the separate incorporation and affiliation of a theological school, McMaster Divinity Collegemarker. The University had traditionally focused on undergraduate studies, having not offered a PhD program until 1949. However, this also changed in 1957 with the creation of a Faculty of Graduate Studies, which was gradually expanded over the coming decades. Construction of the McMaster Nuclear Reactor also began in 1957 and was the first university-based research reactor in the Commonwealth when it began operating in 1959.

In 1965, with the support of the Ontario government, the University established a medical school and teaching hospital, graduating its first class of physicians in 1972. In 1968, the University was organized into the Divisions of Arts, Science, and Health Sciences each with its own Vice-President, while Divinity College continued under its existing arrangement. In 1974 the divisional structure of the University was dissolved and the vice-presidents were replaced by a single Vice-President (Academic). The Faculties of Business, Engineering, Health Sciences, Humanities, Science, and Social Sciences were retained, each under the leadership of a dean.


Notable among a number of songs commonly played and sung at various events such as commencement and convocation, and athletic games are: "The Alma Mater Song" (1935), with words by Mrs A.A. Burridge and music by Hugh Brearly; "The McMaster March," with words by Claire Senior Burke et al., and music by Arthur Burridge; "My Mac" (1982), with words and music by Fred Moyes.


Main campus

McMaster's main campus is bordered to the north by Cootes Paradisemarker, an extensive natural marshland, to the east and west by residential neighbourhoods and to its south by Main Street West, a major transportation artery of Hamilton. Its northern boundaries are a popular destination for hikers and joggers who make use of the many trails that connect the campus to the Royal Botanical Gardens, Ontariomarker's lands.

Archway of University Hall, displays the unique Gothic Architecture Style
Archway of University Hall, displays the unique Gothic Architecture Style
The buildings and facilities represent the ongoing development that has been happening on McMaster grounds since it purchased the property from the city of Hamiltonmarker in 1928. Its six original gothic-style buildings are now flanked by over fifty structures built predominantly during booms in the early 1970s and the late 1990s to present. Perhaps the most distinctive component of the campus skyline is that of the McMaster University Medical Centre, a multi-use research hospital that ranks among the largest public buildings in Canada. It is connected to the Life Sciences building and the recently completed (2004) Michael DeGroote Centre for Learning & Discovery which houses many well-funded research groups in areas of genetics, infectious diseases and several specific conditions.

The McMaster Nuclear Reactor is a university-based research reactor that is today the only Canadian medium flux reactor in a university environment. It is a "pool-type" reactor with a core of enriched uranium fuel moderated and cooled by light water. The MNR provides a wide range of irradiation, laboratory and holding facilities which include: A cyclotron, an accelerator, a small-angle neutron-scattering detector and wide-angle neutron scattering facilities.


Currently McMaster has twelve smoke-free residence buildings totalling approximately 3,756 bedspaces. The newest residence to be built is Les Prince Hall, just north of Hedden Hall. It is a large co-ed building completed in 2006. Prince was a long-serving hall master in the residence system, living with his family on campus until after his retirement in 1980.

Building choices include the traditional room and board style, furnished apartment style and suite-style. The McMaster Residence System is composed of Community Advisors who provide guidance and help the transition to university life for many first year students. Advisors are trained by Housing and Conference service employees and enforce policies which the university has put in place. They also provide programs for students that touch on one or more of its four pillars approach: Academic, Awareness, Social, and Wellness. Residence students are represented by the Inter Residence Council (IRC). Each building has two representatives which program entertaining activities for students, facilitate social interaction, and represent the students at the upper administration level.


Recently, McMaster has begun spreading physically beyond its West Hamilton borders into other areas in the region.

In 2004 McMaster University announced that in partnership with the neighbouring city of Burlingtonmarker, it would be constructing a new arts & technology intensive campus in that city. Plans call for a small initial cohort to be admitted in 2007 in leased space and the University hopes to have an enrolment at the Burlington campus of nearly 5000 students by 2020. The Burlington campus concept is contingent on provincial government approval, not yet sought, of the academic programmes and the necessary funding.

The proposed campus has proven controversial and the plan has been opposed by many deans and other faculty members. The McMaster Students Union has serious reservations with the project and may openly oppose the project dependent upon either a fall vote in the student representative assembly or a general referendum.

Other facilities

The McMaster's Centre for Continuing Education was relocated to the former Hamilton-Wentworth courthouse building on Main Street East in 2002. The centre offers a variety of certificate and diploma programs as well as personal and professional development programs.

The Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine is expected to expand through a shared health science campus with the University of Waterloomarker in Kitchener, Ontariomarker. Additional expansion is in the Niagara region of the Golden Horseshoe.

McMaster has purchased a large industrial park three kilometres east of its main Hamilton campus in 2005 with the intention of redeveloping the site to contain an array of research facilities for the development of advanced manufacturing and materials, biotechnology, automotive and nanotechnology.In July 2005 the federal government announced that it would be relocated CANMET, a federal government materials research laboratory, from its Ottawamarker centre to Hamilton, helping spear-head the development of the McMaster Innovation Park.



McMaster University has been named Canada's most innovative medical-doctoral university eight times in the past 11 years by Maclean's in its annual ranking of Canadian universities. In the Academic Ranking of World Universities of 2008, McMaster University ranked 89th in the world. The Times Higher Education ranking of 2008 placed McMaster at 117th in the world.


McMaster has been particularly renowned for its academic strengths, most notably in the fields of Health Sciencesmarker and Engineering.

In 2008, according to the Higher Education Evaluation & Accreditation Council of Taiwan (HEEACT), McMaster is ranked 48th in the world for scientific papers in clinical medicine.

[[Image:Nuclear reactor.jpg|thumb|left|180px|McMaster Nuclear Reactor. Above: construction began in 1957, completed in 1959.

Below: Reactor in 2004.]]McMaster earned the designation of research university of the Year in 2004 based on its ability to attract and capitalize on its research income. Its research activities exceed those of universities twice its size and no Canadian university receives a higher proportion of research funding relative to its operating budget than McMaster.

In 2006, McMaster was ranked first by research intensity of $308,300 CAD per full time faculty.

Engineering students can choose to specialize in the following disciplines: Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Engineering Physics, Materials Science and Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Software Engineering, Computational Engineering. The faculty of Engineering has also recently added Computer Science as an option to its students where they offer programs in the field of pure Computer science or a stream similar to the management option available for the Engineering disciplines known as, Business Informatics. McMaster launched Canada's first school of computational engineering and science in 2005 dedicated in developing expertise in the third wave of scientific research involving stimulation, modeling and optimization. McMaster has recently begun new programs in Computer Science and Business Informatics in the faculty of Engineering which employ real-time motion simulator which help students understand the applications and needs for jobs in Information Technology. The new school brings together 50 faculty from engineering, science, business and health science to collaboratively conduct research and advance education.

The university's health sciences reputation started with the foundation of its medical school — with non-traditional small-group problem-based learning tutorials since adopted by other programs — in the 1960s. However, it quickly grew with programs in occupational therapy, physical therapy, midwifery, and other allied fields. A portion of Albert Einstein's brain is preserved and held for medical research at the McMaster brain bank. Researchers there have identified differences in his brain that may relate to his genius for spatial and mathematical thinking.

McMaster has had a nuclear reactor (MNR)since 1959 for nuclear science and engineering research. The strength of nuclear science at McMaster under the presidency of Dr. H.G. Thode, was augmented in 1968 by the construction of a 10MV Model FN Tandem particle accelerator. Along with this was added the 3MV Model KN single-ended accelerator in the same year. Being primarily, in the early days, a nuclear structure laboratory, the academic direction of the laboratory fell to the Physics Department. During the next 28 years, the nuclear research effort was tremendous with hundreds of graduate students trained and many publications generated.

McMaster is the only medical doctoral university in Canada to offer Nuclear Engineering at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

The average entering grade for an undergraduate student is 85% in 2008.

School of Business

DeGroote School of Business
In addition, McMaster's DeGroote School of Business has gathered both national and worldwide recognition as it was accredited by the AACSB in 2006. Less than 10 percent of business schools worldwide have earned this accreditation.

The DeGroote School of Business also houses the Allen H. Gould Trading Floor, a state-of-the-art educational tool that enables students to experience the relationships and interactions of the financial markets. It is one of the first such facilities in North America, and one of only 30 in the world.

A recent $105 million CAD donation was given to McMaster's medical program from billionaire Michael G. DeGroote. It is the largest single cash gift in Canadian history and will be used to upgrade the current medical school, called the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine. He is also a benefactor to McMaster's business school the DeGroote School of Business.


The McMaster Museum of Art houses six thousand works of art, including those bequeathed by Herman Levy.The McMaster University Library system consists of four libraries. The Mills Memorial Library for humanities and social sciences. It houses the papers of Bertrand Russell and other major collections. Innis Library, located in Kenneth Taylor Hall for Business. H.G. Thode Library of Science & Engineering and Health Sciences Library.The University Library is a member of the Association of Research Libraries. The collection contains more than 2 million volumes, 1,423,102 microform items, 174,956 non-print items and of archival material. Current periodical titles number about 11,880. (1997)

The McMaster Arts and Science is an exclusive program at McMaster, admitting only 60 first year students per year, with a total size of about 250.


McMaster University is affiliated with eight teaching hospitals. Five of them compose the Hamilton Health Sciences:

The affiliated institutions are Juravinski Cancer Centre, St. Joseph's Healthcare and St. Peter's Health System.

Student life

The main student unions on administrative and policy issues are the McMaster Students Union for full-time undergraduates, the McMaster Association of Part-Time Students for part-time undergraduates and the McMaster Graduate Students Association for postgraduates. Student representative bodies also exist within the residence system as well as at the various academic faculties and departments. There are hundreds of clubs and student organizations at the university. Many of them are centred around the McMaster University Student Centre, the student activity center. Fraternities and sororities are not recognized by the university or the student unions and operate as non-accredited off-campus organizations.

Student media

The student-run Silhouette newspaper is the oldest student service at McMaster University and has been in publication since 1929. Since 1968, the McMaster Engineering Society has published The Plumbline, the main satire magazine of McMaster University. The campus radio station CFMU-FM (93.3 FM) is Canada’s second oldest campus radio station and has been broadcasting since 1978. MacInsiders, an online student-run forum and information network, has been operating since 2007.

Theater and music

McMaster is home to two semi-professional acting companies, at the university level. The McMaster Thespian Company, started in 2003, and McMaster Musical Theatre, started in the 1960s, present productions annually involving student volunteer actors, musicians and crew. These groups, as well as the students in McMaster's Theatre and Film program, usually perform in the Robinson Memorial Theatre in Chester New Hall. Since 1990, McMaster has hosted the McMaster Summer Drama Festival, a collection of plays directed and performed by students and local community members. The McMaster Engineering Musical is an annual musical production that is written, directed and cast by engineers that often features unique interpretations of popular songs or musicals.


McMaster's athletic logo.
The McMaster Marauders is the official sporting team for McMaster University and the university's colours have been maroon and grey since 1912. The Mauraders have an extensive track record in both the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) and Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) leagues spanning several decades.

McMaster Marauders football helmet.
Men's football at McMaster is one of the school's most popular spectator sports. The team has shown itself as one of the strongest in Canada, earning four consecutive Yates Cup victories (2000-2003), led by coach Greg Marshall. Several McMaster athletes have been scouted to play for the Canadian Football League, such as alumnus Jesse Lumsden or Kyle Koch who both currently play for the Edmonton Eskimos. The team currently plays on the recently completed Ronald V. Joyce Stadium at Les Prince Field.

The McMaster men's rugby team won gold in the OUA Championship over Westernmarker in 2006, and over Queen'smarker in 2008. This marks the fifth time in seven years for the Marauders to hoist the Turner Trophy and their sixth time overall since it's inauguration in 1923.

Intramural sports are widely participated in at Ivor Wynne Centre and David Braley Athletic Center as well. Unorganized sports such as ad hoc cricket games are often found in front of the science and engineering buildings.

In 2004, McMaster Kinesiology student Adam van Koeverden captured a bronze medal in the Men's K1, 1000 metre single kayak and gold medal in the kayak singles 500 metre at the Olympic Games in Athens, Greecemarker. He won a silver medal in 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. He also won a silver medal in K1, 1000 metre at the World Championships in Gainesville, U.S. in September 2003.

Notable Alumni and Faculty

Affiliates awarded the Nobel Prize

Name Affiliation to McMaster Nobel Prize Year
1. Myron Scholes Alumnus Economics 1997
2. Bertram Brockhouse Faculty Physics 1994
3. James Orbinski Alumnus Peace Prize (on behalf of Médecins Sans Frontières) 1992

Notes and References

  1. Page 6, McMaster University Annual Financial Report 2007/08
  2. Page 1
  3. Shanghai Jiao Tong University 2008 world rankings
  4. Gidney p. 94
  5. Gidney p. 94
  6. Gidney p. 94
  7. Gidney p. 94
  8. Gidney p. 94
  9. Gidney p. 94
  10. Gidney p. 95
  11. Gidney p. 95
  12. McMaster University Act
  13. Combining Two Cultures, p.6
  14. Canada Enters the Nuclear Age, p.91
  15. Encyclopedia of Music
  16. Largest Pediatric Academic Health Sciences centres in Canada
  17. McMaster Nuclear Reactor
  18. McMaster Innovation Park
  19. McMaster news
  20. McMaster Engineering
  21. McMaster Health Science Academic Strengths
  22. HEEACT 2008
  23. Research Infosource Inc 2004
  24. Research@McMaster
  25. Canadian Engineering Memorial Foundation - University List
  26. Canada's first school of Computational Engineering and Science
  27. Einstein's Brain
  28. BBC News Einstein's Brain
  29. McMaster Fast Facts
  30. AACSB Accreditation
  31. Allen H. Gould Trading Floor
  32. Largest Cash Gift in Canadian History

Further reading

  • Charles M. Johnston 'McMaster University, Vol. 1: The Toronto Years' (Toronto: University of Toronto Press)
  • Charles M. Johnston 'McMaster University, Vol. 2: The Early Years in Hamilton' (Toronto: University of Toronto Press)
  • Herb Jenkins 'Combining Two Cultures: McMaster University's Arts And Science Programme' (University press of America, August 31, 2004)
  • Paul Axelrod 'Scholars and Dollars: Politics, Economics, and the Universities of Ontario 1945-1980' (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, September 1, 1982)
  • W.S.W. McLay, C.W. New and G.P. Gilmour. 'McMaster University, 1890-1940' (Hamilton, 1940)

External links

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