Dean's Message

Photograph of Dr. John YooWelcome to Schulich Medicine & Dentistry’s 2020 Rapport Magazine.

I am delighted to showcase and celebrate the wonderful activities that continue at the School even in the midst of this tumultuous year. Perhaps as a direct response to the challenges we faced, we continue to reflect, grow, and improve. The world has been forever changed, and we have changed with it.

When you receive this issue, I will be heading into my sixth month as Dean. It has indeed been an eventful year and the time has passed quickly.

The most common question I’m asked is how has it been stepping in as Dean during this time? I can honestly say I have never been more proud to be part of the School.

When I began as Dean on May 1, there were more than 55,000 recorded cases of COVID-19 across Canada. With Ontario a hotspot, our efforts became squarely focused on the care and the wellbeing of our community. The appreciation of the selfless actions of our front-line workers, trainees and faculty; the profound urgency of health research; and the lifeline of educating the next generation of health providers entered everyone’s consciousness like never before.

Twenty-five days later, Mr. George Floyd’s tragic death led to international outrage. The worldwide protests that followed sparked heartbreaking conversations and self-reflection about anti-racism at our School. I’m grateful to our students, faculty and staff for their uncompromising commitment to work together in making our School a better place for everyone. We have collectively taken up the charge to develop a thoughtful and sustainable action plan for our Faculty.

With spring came graduation. We are particularly proud of the Class of 2020 who graduated on time and demonstrated incredible resilience and patience in the process. And as the Province loosened restrictions in June, our researchers and students returned to the lab and learning environments. I remain appreciative of the remarkable creativity and resolve of faculty and staff in optimizing the experience for students during this time.

During the past several months, I had the chance to meet and learn from many faculty students, staff, alumni, and community leaders. And in the weeks ahead, I will be reaching out even more broadly.

My immediate goal is to develop the School’s new Strategic Plan. We are poised to impact the world in so many ways and I am excited to help set our sights upward and to be global leaders in the things that matter to us.

Our competitive advantage is our community. Our unique blend of ‘big city’ capacity in talent and scale that is our University and academic hospitals exists in an environment of community spirit like few places in the country.

We must take advantage of the ‘sweet spot’ that is London. Collaborations, relationship building, and forging new partnerships should be our key priorities. We must work toward common goals between the School and hospitals, between basic scientists and clinical care physicians, between various disciplines and faculties at Western, and between London, Windsor, and our regional partners. We need to better engage our students, staff and faculty. We need to be relevant and enriching for our alumni and community partners.

Research is our academic engine and we are proud of our stellar investigators and world-class programs. But we can always do better. In order to in broaden our global influence and take us to the next level, we must be strategic and courageous.

We have the responsibility to develop the next generation of health leaders. This begins with our students. Among my highest priorities are new programs that will enrich, empower, and differentiate Schulich Medicine & Dentistry students.

Right now our School is at a critical juncture, and the events of the past few months have crystallized the critical importance of health care, research and education like rarely before.

I’m grateful to our School community who contribute to the incredibly powerful, diverse and dynamic environment. And to you, our alumni, for your continued interest in our work.

Rapport Magazine is an important milestone for the School that highlights the past year’s activities. I am especially delighted to share some of the outstanding work that arose even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research and education programs and various partnerships have continued to thrive and advance the School’s mission.

Producing this year’s edition was particularly challenging and I want to thank the team for a superb job. I hope you enjoy the 2020 issue of Rapport Magazine.