Faculty FAQ: Wilson Leadership Scholar Award Graduate Stream

What is the Wilson Leadership Scholar Award?

The Wilson Leadership Scholar Award was created by Chancellor Emeritus Lynton “Red” Wilson to further develop the critical thinking and leadership skills of McMaster students. The award has both graduate and undergraduate streams, with winners from both participating in the program over the course of one year. In addition to receiving $20,000 for their participation in the development program, Wilson Leaders can apply for up to $5,000 of additional funding to support conference participation, field or archival work, a brief (2-6 week) internship related to their studies, and other opportunities that complement their academic work.

How much time do winners invest in the award?

Winners will likely spend an average of 15 hours per month on the award over six months (September to November, and January to March). The funding slightly exceeds what students would receive for a teaching or research assistantship, and it involves less than half the time commitment. We encourage potential applicants to pursue either the program or an assistantship, rather than both at the same time.

Applicants who advance in the graduate award selection process will be required to provide a letter of support from their supervisor (or graduate chair if they have no supervisor), ensuring that potential winners discuss their time management plans with their department in advance. Undergraduate candidates are not required to provide a letter of support.

How are those 15 hours spent?

Wilson Leaders receive support in working towards personal and professional goals through coaching and mentorship, participate in problem-based learning and speaker-driven sessions on selected Canadian issues, and lead a community project. We anticipate that graduate-level Wilson Leaders will design community projects that complement their studies. They may also choose to lead a Socrates Project event, or participate in a brief internship (as short as two weeks). Undergraduate Wilson Leaders do not have the option of an internship arranged by the program, but otherwise participate in similar activities, including leading a community project of their own design.

How does the program relate to my student’s academics?

The work that Wilson Leaders do is complementary to, but independent from, their academic work. It helps them prepare for academic and non-academic paths, as they inform themselves about a range of issues, and bring their unique expertise to their community project and related events. For graduate Wilson Leaders in particular, the program is designed to expand their research or course-based work.

What role do mentors play in supervising my student’s research?

None. The mentors WLSA winners meet are selected based on their personal and professional goals. They are not selected to compete with or substitute for academic guidance on the winners’ research.

How does this award impact me?

The coaching provided by the WLSA can help its participants stay on track, and the funding that graduate winners can devote to field work, research travel, or conference participation can help disseminate your department’s research and lighten the financial burden on your department. You may also find the award useful in helping to attract graduate students to your department, as the graduate award is open to incoming McMaster students.

You can find out more about the award at wilsonleader.ca.  If you have further questions, please contact Dr. Liz Koblyk at wilsonleader@mcmaster.ca.