This coming September, Assistant Dean of the Bachelor of Health Sciences program, Delsworth Harnish, will be stepping down to take on an Associate Dean role with the larger Faculty of Health Sciences.

“As an academic administrator, you’re only supposed to do two five-year terms, it’s rare to do more than that, and I’m in my third five-year term. It’s time to step away, new blood is always really important,” said Harnish. “I’m happy to be stepping away from it, although I will miss it.”

After having founded the undergraduate program 15 years ago as a research initiative and working to help develop it into the well-known program that it has become today, Harnish will be moving on to another venture with the university, one that involves bringing aspects of the BHSc program to other faculties and programs.

“We’re developing new programs with Engineering and Business,” said Harnish. “Business is actively collaborating with us on a couple of things. It’s largely true that students benefit from interdisciplinary perspectives, and this new program [we’re working on] was built with enough elective space to encourage students to take courses in Humanities, Social Science, Science, etcetera.”

Along with this proposed Commerce program, Harnish is also working on developing something in Engineering that will attract students interested in both Engineering and Health Sciences.

“We’ve tried that twice before but we really haven’t had the formula right. I think this time there are a lot of people engaged in it.”

In the past, the BHSc program has received backlash from the public about its perceived semphasis on grades, with articles being written in Maclean’s, the Toronto Star, and a variety of online blogs, harping on their application process.

While it is true that programs with lower acceptance standards can lead to the same technical outcome as a BHSc degree, its content and style provides a unique multi-faceted experience beyond its perceived reputation, and it is hard to deny the positive influence the Health Sciences program has had on a number of McMaster programs.

Since the implementation of the BHSc program, McMaster has gone on to create more inquiry-based learning programs and further integrate problem-based learning, experiential education, and interdisciplinary curriculums. Since its inaugural BHSc cohort, McMaster has introduced the inquiry-based Arts and Science and iSci programs, as well as the recent interdisciplinary Sustainability minor, among other efforts.

“Universities are not good organizations for change, in general. Things tend to track along the way they have historically… But I think McMaster more than most universities in the last several years has seen some active change in lots of areas,” said Harnish.

Upon the start of his new position, Harnish’s replacement will be coming in this fall. Her name has not been made available to the public, but we do know that she worked for the program in the past and is well acquainted with McMaster’s culture.

Harnish is looking forward to the future of McMaster, as should current and incoming students.

“I’ve enjoyed this immensely, it is fantastic working with young people.”


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