The Centre for Human Relations and Community Studies was created in 1963, simultaneously with the Department of Applied Social Science of Sir George Williams University under the vision and guidance of Principal Robert C. Rae and Dr. Hedley G. Dimock, who became the first Director of the Centre and Chairman of the department. He was later joined by Richard D. McDonald in 1965 who became the Centre Director after Dr. Dimock’s retirement in 1980.
Both the Centre and Applied Social Science grew directly out of Sir George Williams University’s roots in the community, specifically through the YMCA of Montreal. As the YMCA developed, Sir George Williams adapted to meet the needs for professional development and its workers and community members. In the 1940’s, courses were offered in counselling, group work, organization development, and supervision as part of a B.A. in Association Science which fulfilled the academic requirements for becoming a certified YMCA secretary. In 1963, these courses were used as the basis for creating a program and department of Applied Social Science.
Since its inception, the Centre has provided consultation and training services to hundreds of organizations, community groups and agencies, delivered hundreds or workshops open to the public, developed Canada’s most established Human Relations Training Development Program, and created learning opportunities to students through internships and student placements. The Centre has also been instrumental in developing curriculum and academic programs such as the Family Life Education and Community Service certificates, as well as the MA program in Human Systems Intervention.
In 1994, the R.D. McDonald endowment fund was established to insure the financial viability of the Centre.