November town hall looks ahead to 2021

Posted on Thursday, November 26, 2020

Photo of the exterior of the research tower of the uOttawa Faculty of Medicine
By Kate Jaimet
Senior Writer

The Faculty should prepare for the possibility of increased on-campus learning in the fall of 2021, members of the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) said at a town hall meeting on Tuesday, November 24. 

Although a formal notification from the central governance of uOttawa regarding on-campus learning has not yet been issued, Dean Bernard Jasmin said that professors should “be proactive and prepare” for the eventuality that modest-sized classes will be held in person next academic year. Dr. Melissa Forgie, vice-dean of Undergraduate Medical Education, added that much in-person learning is already occurring for students in the MD program, and this is anticipated to continue. Partner hospitals have expressed a “deep and firm commitment” to continuing clerkships for uOttawa MD students, she said. 

The comments were made in response to a question in the Q&A portion of the hour-long morning town hall session. The ELT held a second session in the late afternoon of the same day.

Strategic plan update 

After reviewing the Faculty’s positive rankings, excellent accreditation reports, and success in garnering research funding, Dr. Jasmin gave an update on the Faculty’s strategic plan. He reported that the strategic blueprint, which lays out 245 action items supporting the implementation of the strategic plan, was approved by Faculty Council in October. 

The two documents have already proven useful, not only in guiding important Faculty matters such as the ongoing governance review, but also in advocating for increased resources from the University and external stakeholders, the dean said. Those resources are critically important in allowing the Faculty to implement its priorities, including infrastructure upgrades. 

“We are happy to report that plans have moved forward for the creation of a new Advanced Medical Research Centre as well as a retrofit of Roger Guindon Hall,” Dr. Jasmin said. “Our biggest challenge at the present time is financial.”

Financial matters

The Faculty is still feeling the effects of uOttawa’s 2017 ‘budget reset,’ at which time the Faculty’s budget was cut by 20 per cent, and its $25 million cash reserve was transferred into the University’s central coffers. The COVID-19 pandemic has put a further squeeze on the University’s finances, particularly through the loss of ancillary fees since the vast majority of students are no longer coming on campus.

“We are not sure at the moment whether the Faculty will be impacted by the changes at the central level but certainly we are keeping a very close eye on the budget situation,” Dr. Jasmin said. 

He outlined various ways in which the Faculty is seeking to increase its revenues, including more active advocacy with uOttawa central; increased fundraising; and the development of external partnerships, for example with government agencies. 

“We have developed a strategy to increase our revenues and mitigate the budget shortfall that is imposed on us by the current conditions,” Dr. Jasmin said.

High goals for the future

Dr. Jasmin and the Executive Leadership Team have set their sights high, with a goal of  becoming one of the top 50 faculties of medicine in the world. “I think we can look at the future very optimistically with the strategic plan and the blueprint laying out the foundation for the next several years,” he concluded.

Members of the ELT closed the sessions by thanking learners, faculty members, and staff for their essential roles in helping the Faculty to pursue its work during these difficult times.


Wide-ranging topics discussed

The town hall sessions covered a wide range of topics, touching on academic accreditations, governance, budgetary issues, the implementation of the Faculty’s strategic plan, and the disruptions caused by the pandemic. 

The ensuing discussions also addressed issues such as language training and la Francophonie; international and global health activities; and wellness and equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives such as mentorship of Black learners.

“I think all of us would agree that we are doing exceptionally well at the Faculty of Medicine,” Dr. Jasmin said. “Despite all the uncertainties this year, we are delivering on our academic mission.”

As summarized by vice-deans present, this academic mission is being boosted by the development of numerous new educational programs. 

“Over the last few years the Faculty has really upped its game in terms of creation of more contemporary programs to meet the needs of our learners and the communities we serve,” Dean Jasmin said.

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