Proceedings Report on Fulfilling Our Potential

Sep 10, 2014

Dean WhitesideClasses have resumed and the campus has sprung to life. It is a pattern that repeats year after year, but alongside that repetition our Faculty is constantly evolving. We make plans and decisions based on our strategic priorities, but we remain responsive to the changing needs of our students, faculty members and staff. We identify those needs by asking difficult questions of ourselves: What are the next steps forward for our Faculty of Medicine? Are we truly integrating and collaborating — across disciplines and institutions — as effectively as we could be? How do we continue to improve the health of individuals and populations while positioning ourselves in the increasingly competitive global markets of medical and life science education and biomedical research?

Following the well-attended and highly successful Fulfilling our Potential strategy retreat earlier this year, we recently published a comprehensive Proceedings Report. Thanks to the enthusiastic participation of our retreat attendees, the Report presents a number of core themes — integration and strategic partnerships, collaboration and internationalization — and offers a number of recommendations for the Faculty’s immediate, medium-term and longer-term academic planning.  

The Report’s specific recommendations emphasized the need to find new approaches to support our faculty and students. New ways of integrating, academically as well as operationally, will increase efficiency and reduce costs. We must focus on our key priorities for internationalization, including: funding for international graduate students; pursuing research collaborations with international colleagues; and, preparing students for an international job market. To be successful in any of these tasks, we must also pursue network-wide infrastructure to enable closer collaborations across the Faculty and our partner hospitals.

Another recent development was the announcement of the University of Toronto’s Strategic Mandate Agreement 2014 – 2017 (SMA) with the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU). The SMA outlines the role the University currently performs in the postsecondary education system and how it will build on its strengths to achieve its vision. It also notes that life sciences and health professions are areas of institutional strength for U of T and proposes, among many things, that biomedicine and health-related programs are the University’s number one priority for growth.

Above all, the SMA offers us the opportunity to focus our own planning efforts and align them with the University and MTCU. The task that lies ahead is to examine our original goals as stated in the Strategic Academic Plan 2011 – 2016, as well as our retreat’s Proceedings Report and, identifying the points of alignment with the SMA, chart our course for the coming years. It is a significant undertaking, but under the leadership of our incoming Dean, Trevor Young, I am confident that the Faculty of Medicine community and our TAHSN partners will rise to the challenge.

Catharine Whiteside
Dean, Faculty of Medicine
Vice-Provost, Relations with Health Care Institutions

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