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Meet Susan Tighe, Provost and Vice-President (Academic)

Dr. Susan Tighe, PhD, PEng, FCAE, FCSCE, FEIC, C.Dir., is Provost and Vice-President (Academic) and professor of civil engineering at McMaster University. She was appointed in July 2020.

In the position, Dr. Tighe serves as the senior Vice-President, Chief Academic Officer and Chief Budget Officer of the university, reporting to the President and Vice-Chancellor and is accountable to the President and the Senate for academic administration, planning and development.

Having joined McMaster early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Tighe led the creation of a virtual learning taskforce and the university’s COVID response. She later led the Fall 2021 Return to McMaster planning process, which included innovative collaborations with staff, faculty, COVID experts on campus and Hamilton Public Health.

As Provost, Dr. Tighe has fostered collaboration and championed partnerships across McMaster, including oversight of the successful Black Cohort hiring; the launch of the Indigenous Studies Department; the recruitment and retention of top faculty; and successful decanal and senior academic leadership appointments. She continues to support innovation through the funding of  unique projects and pilots across the academy that foster excellence in teaching, student experience and research through the Strategic Excellence and Equity in Recruitment and Retention (STEER/R) program and the Strategic Alignment Fund (SAF).

Recognizing that innovations in teaching and learning are the foundation of university excellence, Dr. Tighe has also supported the development of McMaster’s first Teaching and Learning Strategy and digital learning strategy framework to enhance pedagogy, reduce barriers to education and prepare students for the future of work.

As Chief Budget Officer, Dr. Tighe fosters operational excellence across units so that budgets are prepared and executed to advance strategy and contribute to high-quality outputs. She advocates for the use of innovative tools and processes that streamline activities and improve efficiency. She has collaborated with leaders in the administration to eliminate duplication and provide clarity on the budget process and associated allocation of funding.

Externally, Dr. Tighe is chair of the U15 Canada Academic Affairs Committee (AAC), an executive member of the Ontario Council of Academic Vice-Presidents (OCAV) and is a member of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings advisory board.

Dr. Tighe’s reputation as a scholar, educator, and professional engineer is illustrated by the breadth of her honours and awards. She is internationally recognized for her contributions to the development, design, and management of sustainable concrete and asphalt transportation infrastructure. She has secured more than $25 million in research funding (PI/Co-PI).

She was elected a member of the inaugural class of the Royal Society of Canada’s College for New Scholars, Artists, and Scientists. She is a Fellow Canadian Academy of Engineering; Fellow Canadian Society for Civil Engineering; Fellow Engineering Institute of Canada and a past president of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering. She won two prestigious Fellowships to undertake high impact research in New Zealand (Erskine Fellowship) and England (United Kingdom Royal Academy of Engineering Fellowship). She has received 21 best paper awards, the Professional Engineers of Ontario Engineering Medal in Research and Development and Young Engineer Medal, the Sanford Fleming Award from the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering, which is Canada’s top civil engineering award in transportation, the En-hui Yang Research Innovation Award, Award of Academic Merit from the Transportation Association of Canada, and the inaugural Bleeds Black Award from the Ontario Hot Mix Producers Association. She has also appeared in Canada’s Top 40 under 40 and Canada’s 80 Women to Watch lists.

Dr. Tighe, received her BSc in Chemical Engineering from Queen’s University, and her MASc Civil Engineering and PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of Waterloo. She has also earned the Chartered Director designation from the DeGroote School of Business Director’s College Program at McMaster University. She has been a professional engineer in Ontario since 1995 and was a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Waterloo from 2000 to 2020 where she held a Canada Research Chair, the Norman W. McLeod Endowed Chair in Sustainable Pavement Engineering, served as Director of the Centre for Pavement and Transportation Technology and Deputy Provost and Associate Vice-President Integrated Planning and Budgeting. She received the Faculty of Engineering, Graduate Supervision Award and the University of Waterloo, Award of Excellence in Graduate Supervision. Dr. Tighe has supervised more than 100 MASc, PhD and post-doctoral students and continues to supervise graduate students at McMaster.