About the Centre


The Centre for Research on Educational and Community Services (CRECS) collaborates in research, evaluation, and training with organizations in the educational, social service, and health sectors to improve social programs and policies for citizens, especially those facing social exclusion.

History of CRECS

CRECS Timeline

The forerunner to CRECS was a research unit in the School of Psychology known as the Community Services Research Unit (CSRU) created by Professors Tim Aubry and Robert Flynn in 1996. This research unit provided an initial portal for community organizations to link up with University of Ottawa faculty and students and collaborate on research projects that would contribute to developing and improving health and social services.

In order to build a presence and contribute to building research capacity in the community, the CSRU developed an annual summer institute that offered training in program evaluation to policy makers, program managers, and practitioners from the not-for-profit sector.  From 1996 to 1999, the CSRU was successful during its three years of existence in initiating over 20 studies with a range of community and governmental agencies in the Ottawa-Carleton and Outaouais regions in such diverse areas as child welfare, community mental health, developmental disabilities, and homelessness.

In the fall of 1999, with the support and assistance of Dean Caroline Andrew and Vice-Dean of Research André Cellard, the CSRU received official status as a research centre at the University of Ottawa and became the Centre for Research on Community Services (CRCS) in the Faculty of Social Sciences. With this formal status, the CRCS was granted office space at 34 Stewart and resources for administrative support. 

In its early years, the team of researchers at CRCS was composed mainly of its two founding and resident co-directors, Professors Tim Aubry and Robert Flynn from the School of Psychology, and colleagues who collaborated with them on several major projects, notably in the areas of community mental health and child welfare, Professors Brad Cousins (Faculty of Education), Doug Angus (Faculty of Management), and Marie Drolet (School of Social Work). The Centre employed a junior, part-time research coordinator and several full-time project coordinators and staff members and involved a small number of graduate and undergraduate students, mainly from psychology. In 2003, CRCS completed its first strategic plan that provided direction on how to grow CRCS in its core areas of research, training, and knowledge mobilization.

Over the period of 2000-2006, CRCS continued to be sponsored by the Faculty of Social Sciences. Through a range of externally-funded projects, the Centre increased its presence in the community. More colleagues joined in CRCS projects, including Professors Caroline Andrew (School of Political Studies), Raymond Leblanc and Bernard Andrews (Faculty of Education), John Sylvestre and Marta Young (School of Psychology), Manal Guirguis-Younger (St. Paul University), Fran Klodawsky (Carleton University), and Susan Farrell (Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre and School of Psychology). Also, collaboration increased with colleagues at universities outside Ottawa.

The receipt of additional financial resources from the Faculty of Social Sciences and the Office of the Vice-President, Research, enabled the Centre to employ a full-time and more senior research coordinator. Also, Professors Aubry and Flynn integrated regular weekly supervisory groups in community consultation into their teaching workload in the School of Psychology, facilitating the involvement of a larger number of graduate students, mainly from psychology but also from education, social work, and medicine, into the increased number of research projects that the Centre undertook with community or government agencies.

In 2006, Deans Caroline Andrew and Marie-Josée Berger signed a letter of agreement to co-sponsor the Centre, establishing it as the first bi-faculty research centre at the University of Ottawa. This new arrangement was accompanied by a change in the name of the centre to the Centre for Research on Educational and Community Services (CRECS) as well as the expansion of the roster of Senior Researchers at the Centre with the addition of a number of new colleagues from both faculties. In addition, the new agreement between the two faculties produced several important changes, namely (1) establishing the shared sponsorship in the Centre’s leadership and governance, and advisory committee membership; (2) locating professors from both Faculties in residence at the Centre once it moved from Stewart Street to Vanier Hall, (3) creating a new jointly administered Graduate Certificate Program in Program Evaluation, and (d) contributing equally to an increased core budget.

In 2008, CRECS underwent an external review conducted by Drs. Larry Davidson (Yale University), David Hulchanski (University of Toronto), Lynne Schulla (Queens University) and Céline Mercier (McGill University) that provided very positive feedback on its accomplishments in its first seven years of existence as well as recommending potential future directions. In the final report, the reviewers concluded that “overall, the appraisers give the Centre high marks on all three of its function of research, teaching, and community service. Beginning with a very modest investment on the part of the University, CRECS leadership has grown an impressive and outstanding Centre that has gained notoriety both across and outside of Canada. Its models for teaching and partnering with community organizations and leaders demonstrate the long-term effectiveness of cultivating respectful and mutually beneficial collaborations and provide models for the University as a whole.”

In response to the report, CRECS’s leadership under Professors Flynn (Director) and Cousins (Co-Director) developed a second strategic plan in 2010. Important directions of this plan were to increase the number
of full-time faculty researchers involved in CRECS as well as improve its visibility internally in the university. In July 2012, CRECS moved from 34 Stewart into the renovated Vanier Building that included dedicated research space to house core professors, researchers, staff, and students from both faculties. At this time, Professor Cousins from the Faculty of Education assumed the Director position and was assisted by Professor Aubry as the Co‑Director. The new quarters in Vanier Hall includes access to a suite of shared meeting rooms for research and a state of the art conference room in the Social Sciences Building. 

Since its move into Vanier Hall and in line with its second strategic plan, CRECS has significantly increased its visibility at the university by holding regular noon hour colloquiums each year, developing an innovative web-based video series known as the Ten Minute Window, providing funding for student thesis research and conference participation, and organizing research and training forums on campus in collaboration with community organizations. As well, CRECS has grown its roster of Senior Researchers to over 40 full-time professors at the University of Ottawa with a particular emphasis on attracting and supporting the involvement of new professors in CRECS.

Quick Info

The Centre for Research on Educational and Community Services (CRECS) collaborates in research, evaluation, and training with organizations in the educational, social service, and health sectors to improve social programs and policies for citizens, especially those facing social exclusion.

CRECS is the only bi-faculty research centre at uOttawa!

Read our 15th Year Anniversary Report.

CRECS Directory

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