Updates and congratulations

It’s been only five weeks since my last message to you and yet so much has taken place in that time. I continue to be grateful to all of you for advancing our education, research and clinical care mandates despite the ongoing challenges that the pandemic presents to us.

This month, I want to provide you with an update on the School’s work related to equity, diversity, inclusivity and anti-racism; the strategic plan and share congratulations to our fall graduating Class of 2020. I also want to recognize the many faculty and staff who have contributed to our learners’ success.

First, however, I do want recognize a few members of our School community on their new roles and accomplishments. As part of the School’s new decanal structure, Drs. Watling and Tithecott were appointed to Acting Vice Dean roles – Education Scholarship and Strategy and Undergraduate Medical Education respectively. Dr. Michelle Marlborough will begin her new role as Assistant Dean, Postgraduate Learner Experience on November 1, and Dr. Karin Hahn was appointed as Acting Chair/Chief, Oncology for a one-year term. Congratulations are also extended to Lorelei Lingard, PhD, who was awarded an Honorary Fellowship with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada

I’m also pleased to share with you that Western University’s Senate approved the graduate Interdisciplinary Medical Sciences program. The one-year, course-based program uses a multi-faceted approach by integrating various fields of study.

In the past few weeks, we also learned of the passing of Dr. Paul Harding and Dr. Jack McLister. Both were giants in their fields and dedicated their careers to the School and the broader community. We are grateful to them for their many contributions and our thoughts are with their families.

In late September, the School hosted a retreat focused on anti-racism. More than 130 faculty, staff and learners gathered for a full-morning session that included a presentation from local Indigenous Elders Mary Lou and Daniel Smoke and an education session from Nicole Kaniki, PhD. Following these sessions, participants broke into small discussion groups to reflect on what they learned, share personal experiences and recommend some action steps for the School in this regard. We are compiling a full report on the recommendations from this retreat, which I look forward to sharing in the near future.

Earlier this week, I hosted a learner town hall to provide an update to students on our work regarding anti-racism, to hear about their experiences and answer their questions. The next steps for our School will be to develop a survey to engage more faculty, staff and learners. The information we gather will be pulled together with our other learnings to inform our strategic planning process.

During the past several weeks, we have made some foundational progress on the School’s Strategic Plan. I’m pleased to announce that Dr. Sarah Prichard, who is currently serving in the role as Special Advisor to the President, will be facilitating the work with the Strategic Plan.

Dr. Prichard is at the foundational stage of this work and is meeting with senior leaders, to gather background information and to prepare a timeline, a communication plan and a work plan that will provide opportunities for extensive engagement with you. Although we have not finalized the specific timing for the completion and launch of the Plan, I can share that we are hoping to complete the process by April 2021, which will allow our three-year budget proposal in the fall of 2021 to align to the Strategic Plan.

Our collective work as a School on this Plan provides an important opportunity for healthy engagement, where all of us will come together to reflect on who we are, to identify our strengths, to explore what distinguishes us and to map out where we want to go. Collectively, we will set goals that will create a critical framework for our decision-making and resource planning moving forward.

I’m looking forward to working with all of you as we map out our future. I know that Dr. Prichard will begin providing regular updates on the Plan, and I hope you will all take advantage of the opportunities to engage with her and your colleagues across the School.

In closing, I want to thank all our faculty and staff who have worked tirelessly to ensure our students and learners are continuing to succeed in their programs. Today, the University is recognizing the fall Class of 2020 graduating class and it is no doubt, thanks in part, to your efforts that learners continue to thrive at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. I also want to recognize our clinical teams who, along with supporting our medical and dental residents and students, are doing extraordinary work in clinics and hospitals in London, Windsor and across Southwestern Ontario.

John Yoo, MD, FRCS(C), FACS
Dean, Schuich School of Medicine & Dentistry
Western University