Leadership

Meet Sean Van Koughnett, Associate Vice-President (Students and Learning) & Dean of Students

Sean Van Koughnett

What are you most proud of related to your team’s work during the pandemic?

Our ability to adapt extremely quickly to online service delivery and programming, while continuing to put students at the centre of everything we do.

What aspect(s) of your student experience has/have contributed to your role as a leader in Student Affairs today?

I was a student-athlete and lived in residence. Being a part of these groups made me realize the importance of belonging to a community. The memories and relationships from these experiences were the best part of my time in university, and I cherish them to this day.

Tell us something about yourself.

Sports and exercise have always been a big part of my life. In addition to being a student-athlete, I played on Canada’s national basketball team, and I’ve taken up tennis, biking, and hot yoga over the past few years. I have also coached my son’s rep basketball team for the past seven years and coached my daughters when they played.

Meet the Student Affairs Leaders

Kevin Beatty

Kevin Beatty (Director, Housing and Conference Services)

Bio coming soon

Shawn Burt

Shawn Burt (Director, Athletics and Recreation)

What are you most proud of related to your team’s work during the pandemic?

Our team demonstrated incredible compassion, care, resilience and perseverance through an incredibly difficult 18 months. I feel very fortunate to work with such a great group of passionate and committed people who also happen to be very talented.

What aspect(s) of your student experience has/have contributed to your role as a leader in Student Affairs today?

The student-athlete experience is special, and it made a lasting impression on me. Having experienced a serious knee injury prior to my first year, I assumed my dream was over. But, the coaches assured me that they had committed to me as a person, student  and athlete — not in the reverse order. This inspired me to pursue a career in university sports because it reinforced the true spirit of what it means to be a student athlete.

Tell us something about yourself.

I am an avid reader (mainly non-fiction); I’ve reignited my love of running in the past five years after a back injury; and I love all sports, but there is nothing better than watching my kids play their sports of choice (soccer, basketball, hockey, and golf). Finally, I am a massive fan of the show Ted Lasso. The show demonstrates there is power in humility, kindness, positivity and respect. Lasso shows that accountability is a form of caring, kindness is not a sign of weakness and the way you treat people trumps talent — all day, every day. He also comments on change and embracing it. While it is a constant all around us, too many people resist it. There are amazing lessons to be learned in every episode of this show, in my opinion!

Arlene Fajutrao Dosen

Arlene Fajutrao Dosen (Director, Student Success)

What are you most proud of related to your team’s work during the pandemic?

I am most proud of our team’s strong spirit of innovation, agility and determination in pivoting the development and delivery of exceptional, student-centred services and programs. Many of the program and service-delivery innovations developed during the pandemic have advanced our work in ensuring broader reach and more customized access for our students. Our new models of service provision enable us to engage and meet with our students, wherever and whenever they need us.

What aspect(s) of your student experience has/have contributed to your role as a leader in Student Affairs today?

I was privileged to avail of an outstanding undergraduate and graduate education at McMaster, first within the interdisciplinary Arts & Science Program, followed by degrees in the Labour Studies Program and Work & Society MA Program. My education has fundamentally shaped my work in student development. Applying key constructs such as social justice, inclusion, equity, critical theory and intersectionality frames my work as a champion of the student experience. As a Work Program student, I was mentored by leaders who were strong advocates for equitable access to high-quality university education and who dedicated their careers to ensuring that students had the supports and resources to succeed at McMaster and beyond. As a student athlete and coach (fencing), I learned valuable lessons about leadership, perseverance and collaborative teamwork and have gained many friends for life (one of whom I married).

Tell us something about yourself.

I enjoy travelling, swimming, reading non-fiction books on my Kindle, playing the piano and running. I have recently loved re-discovering and exploring the Niagara Parks and Dundas Conservation Area hiking trails with my family.

Shylo Elmayan

Shylo Elmayan (Director, Indigenous Student Services)

What are you most proud of related to your team’s work during the pandemic?

Our creativity and focus on wellness. The Indigenous Student Services team came up with new ways to prioritize student wellness while we stayed online: walking challenges, calm wellness, virtual drop-ins with Elders and care packages were some of new initiatives. For a small team, we also had one another’s backs, and I’m proud of the folks I get to work with.

What aspect(s) of your student experience has/have contributed to your role as a leader in Student Affairs today?

I went to university far away from home, and finding the Indigenous student centre was a way to connect with other Indigenous students and know that I wasn’t alone; I had peers who shared my experiences. Being in Indigenous Studies and meeting other Indigenous students gave me more confidence to use my voice and better understand what my ancestors and community have gone through.

Tell us something about yourself.

I’m a member of the Long Lake #58 First Nation, and my traditional territory is around Hornepayne, Ontario. I grew up in Hamilton, and I love sports and being active. In the past two years, I’ve learned three new sports: swimming, golf and cross-country skiing.

Rosanne Kent

Rosanne Kent (Director, Student Wellness Centre)

What are you most proud of related to your team’s work during the pandemic?

I am excited to share the work my team has done over the last 18 months during the global pandemic, which  affected everyone. The Student Wellness team is here on campus, working every day to help students with their physical and mental health needs. Programs are designed to connect students with other students to forge relationships and assist students with building resilience. Counsellors, nurses, and physicians used technology to connect with students to address their mental and physical health while they studied at home. Our programs were very successful as our student engagement was very high.

What aspect(s) of your student experience has/have contributed to your role as a leader in Student Affairs today?

As a McMaster student, I had financial difficulties, and I could not afford to live in residence. This caused difficulties for me to be involved with campus activities that were available for students. My journey attracted me to a role that could make a difference in the student experience. As I began my work within Student Affairs, I focused on designing a wellness centre that was passionate about assisting students. The work that is done by our team places the student’s needs first, while designing programs that engage students in different opportunities. Our programs are educational, and they impart knowledge to our students that they can use throughout their lives.

Tell us something about yourself.

Some of the activities I enjoy in my spare time are gardening and yoga. I love to grow my own vegetables and use them in my cooking. Yoga is my other love, and my practice has given me the gift of meditation, which has helped me calm my mind and strengthen my body.

Andrijana Olaizola (Director, Finance & Administration)

Bio coming soon

Melissa Pool

Melissa Pool (University Registrar)

Bio coming soon

Clare Warner

Dr. Clare Warner (Senior Advisor, Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism)

What are you most proud of related to your team’s work during the pandemic?

I joined McMaster in February 2021 in the midst of the third wave of the pandemic, so all of the work leading up to the launch of the Black Student Success Centre this September 2021 took place virtually. I’m proud of what we have accomplished so far. We have a clear mandate to support the overall well-being of Black students and a suite of exciting programs on offer. It’s great to be able to help enhance a sense of belonging for Black students on campus, which is a critical indicator of success.

What aspect(s) of your student experience has/have contributed to your role as a leader in Student Affairs today?

I experienced moments of profound unbelonging during my undergraduate and graduate studies. That had less to do with overt behaviors (on the whole, people were very nice) and more to do with a whole series of taken-for-granted norms that I didn’t match up well with. That’s a large part of how and why I got into the field of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI). I am passionate about inclusion and not in the woolly sense, but in the sense of asking practical questions about which norms, ideas and bodies are centred in our services, and what kinds of states of belonging and unbelonging this produces for students.

Tell us something about yourself.

I’m an avid reader and always have been for as long as I can remember. In another life, I worked as a high school English teacher for about five years where I relished the challenge of turning teenagers on to reading. During my PhD, I started to read romantic fiction for the first time, which was the perfect antidote to the fairly bleak educational theory I was consuming, and somehow the habit stuck. It’s great to see more diversity emerging in the genre as people of all ages, gender identities and from any/everywhere are starting to tell their love stories. What’s not to like about endless happy endings?