‘AGM – FoM Forum’ allows faculty, staff and learners to participate in Faculty’s priority planning
On September 15 and 25, faculty, staff and students assembled in the RGN Atrium for the AGM – FoM Forum, answering the call of interim dean Dr. Bernard Jasmin to gather, discuss, and begin to move forward together on Faculty priorities.
The well-attended sessions were indicative of participants’ engagement in the Faculty’s desire to increase transparency, obtain stakeholder feedback on key topics, and gauge their state of thought in general. Dr. Jasmin led off the discussions by emphasizing a focus by the FoM on increasing communications between stakeholders and leadership, stimulating dialogue, promoting and encouraging everyone’s feedback, and simply meeting each other.
“This is not my faculty—it is our faculty,” he emphasized to the crowd.
His introduction of the leadership team, now known as the Executive Leadership Team (ELT), allowed participants to put faces to names, another step in dissolving barriers between the levels within the FoM. Dr. Jasmin took the opportunity to praise the Faculty as a whole, touching on each and every one of the Faculty’s programs in education and research.
“We have tremendous learners, outstanding faculty and staff, and strong leadership,” he said. “This, coupled with our track-record of success in education and research, gives me tools to speak to the administration on main campus to highlight how central our Faculty is to the University’s mission and goals of excellence.”
The main themes of discussion followed the introductions, with Dr. Paul Hendry, Vice-Dean, Continuing Professional Development, moderating the ensuing Q&A periods.
The Dean Search
Dr. Jasmin reiterated that since the most recent selection process did not lead to the selection of a new dean, President Frémont decided this summer to assemble another selection committee, after which a call for nominations/applications will be sent. Candidates will be shortlisted for interview, followed by faculty consultations if individual(s) are identified to move forward with the process.
Internationalization activities are a strategic priority for the FoM, said Dr. Jasmin, who remarked that we must be more strategic, not reactive, and comprehensive in our approach. The FoM absolutely needs to establish an overall plan to guide its involvement on the international scene and to define specific projects with clear timelines and deliverables in order to maximize our investments in terms of dollars and personnel. Currently, the FoM has partnerships in China, France, Israel, Japan, and Benin.
Strategic Priorities of the Interim Dean
Dr. Jasmin mentioned that the ELT has been discussing where we stand now as a Faculty, and where we wish to go regarding research and education. He listed his priorities as interim dean for the next six to 12 months (in no particular order): budget challenges, UGME accreditation, international activities, leadership recruitment/renewal, space, integration with partners, recruitment and mentorship, faculty engagement, and a communication strategy for greater transparency and dialogue. He also mentioned that the Faculty is finalizing the creation of the FoM Education Committee (FMEC) to promote interactions across our various educational programs.
FoM Budget Planning
Dr. Paul Bragg, Vice-Dean, Executive, indicated that the FoM is in the process of revising how we work as an institution with the goal of increasing efficiency and reducing cost, an exercise involving our Business Transformation Office (BTO) initiated prior to the University’s financial issues. Changes are needed, he said, and 161 proposals from FoM staff have been received so far showing the engagement of all of our staff in this important exercise. The ELT will consider these as part of their larger discussion on budget. Also this fall, the Board of Governors will reveal how Ottawa will implement Ontario’s new education funding model whose effects on our operations are not yet clear. Dr. Jasmin noted earlier that with uOttawa soon planning their next set of strategic directions (likely until 2030 to succeed Destination 2020), this has tremendous implications for resource allocation.
The accreditation of our undergraduate medical education program will take place in April 2018, making it a major activity over the next months, stressed Dr. Jasmin. Dr. Melissa Forgie, Vice-Dean, UGME, said she believes that with our exceptional team and our committed dean and president, we have the ability to do very well. She noted that we are only as good as the quality of our MD program, and encouraged everyone to stay on top of all communications from her on the matter. Issues of space, lockers, parking, programs, curriculum, etc. all factor in, she noted, as a reminder that accreditation touches us all.
Faculty Experience Survey Outcomes
Dr. Jasmin gave the highlights of the results, saying that the FoM is indeed listening carefully and acting accordingly. He remarked on the impressive 31% response rate, and that the results are very useful in guiding the ELT’s discussions and helping them design new initiatives and address known and emerging issues. Our strongest results include the sense that research and teaching are encouraged, and a sense of commitment to the success of one’s students. Overall, pride in working for the University is a weakness, he said, as is the fact that only a minority felt that the dean and leadership communicate a clear mission for the Faculty. What we saw on the Faculty survey was reflected also in the University survey, he said, and that despite our weaknesses, we now have the data to move on these issues.
Participants were invited to arrive before the official start of the meeting, and mingled over refreshments. Following the presentations, many agreed this was an excellent forum to jumpstart the efforts of the FoM toward increased transparency and dialogue with stakeholders in an enjoyable, relaxed and collegial setting, and indicated they were looking forward to the next one.
Among the comments and questions, Dr. Michael Schlossmacher echoed the crowd’s appreciation for being consulted regarding the FoM’s new strategic ways forward. “Tell us how we can help you succeed,” he said. “We’re here to work with you.”
Although the AGM was intended to bring stakeholders up to speed on key issues, dialogue is encouraged beyond the RGN Atrium. The ELT is exploring ways of sharing information between AGMs to keep everyone updated. Among the planned initiatives, the dean and members of the ELT will be visiting all Departments this fall to stimulate even more interactions and discussion, and they also invite anyone having questions or comments pertaining to the Faculty of Medicine to contact them via infomed@uOttawa.ca.
Main photo credit: Chonglu Huang