Sean Van Koughnett is the Associate Vice-President (Students and Learning) & Dean of Students at McMaster. His leadership philosophy has been molded through his experience as a high performance athlete and a career dedicated to improving the student experience in higher education.
Director of the Wilson Leadership Scholar Award
Sean Van Koughnett arrived at McMaster in 2013, having established a track record of excellence, leadership and innovation in his varied pursuits.
His formative years were invested in basketball, where he represented Canada on our national junior, student and senior national teams. He competed in several international tournaments, including the 1991 World Junior Championships and the 1993 World Championship qualifying tournament. He won a silver medal at the World University (FISU) games in 1993, and was one of the final cuts from the 2000 Canadian Olympic team. He was a 5-time co-captain and MVP of the University of Waterloo Warriors basketball team.
After obtaining his BA (Economics) and his Master of Applied Environment Studies from the University of Waterloo, Sean spent five years in the private sector before returning to the University of Waterloo, where he took on five different roles over 12 years. After stints in Development, the Registrar’s Office, and Business Operations, Sean founded Velocity, a program for student entrepreneurs which now houses North America’s largest free startup incubator. He then launched uWaterloo’s Student Success Office and became its inaugural director.
As AVP (Students and Learning) & Dean of Students at McMaster, Sean focuses on fostering an engaging, challenging and supportive experience for our students. His portfolio consists of Athletics & Recreation, Housing/Residence Life, the Registrar’s Office, Student Accessibility Services, Student Conduct & Community Standards, the Student Success Centre, and the Student Wellness Centre. One of his first priorities was the development of an integrated strategy to support student mental health and well-being, which was launched in 2015.
Sean is a collaborative leader who excels at developing people and making organizations better. He will be a key mentor and role model for our Wilson Leaders.
“McMaster has always developed great leaders, and it is a privilege to cultivate the potential of our next generation. I look forward to working with our Wilson Leaders, and to providing them with the guidance and experiences that will challenge and inspire them.”
— Sean Van Koughnett, Director of the Wilson Leadership Scholar Award