New Year, New faces and New Areas of Focus

February 1/2017

I would like to welcome everyone back and extend my wishes for a prosperous new year. Now that 2017 is well underway, there are some leadership changes and new priorities that I would like to share.

The first leadership change relates to Professor Dan Sellen, who left the Associate Dean for Research position to start a new role on January 1 with U of T’s Centre for Child Nutrition and Health as Director.  As our first Associate Dean of Research, Dr. Sellen was a terrific guiding force for establishing the Faculty’s research office and working with partners to launch new research initiatives. There is great potential for new research and training collaborations in the area of nutrition, public health and public health policy and I look forward to building new partnerships with the Centre under his leadership. Click here to read more about Dr. Sellen’s new role.

The Dean’s Office is about to launch the search for the next permanent Associate Dean of Research and I anticipate the role to be filled relatively quickly. In the meantime, I encourage researchers to contact Lee Vernich in the Research Service Unit for research support and the Dean’s Office will handle approvals as needed and appropriate.

Around the same time as Dr. Sellen’s departure, two stellar scholars accepted leadership positions with the School: Professors Suzanne Stewart and Erica Di Ruggiero.

Dr. Stewart — a leading scholar in Indigenous knowledge and mental health — assumed the role of Director of the Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health (WBIIH) on January 1, following a search conducted by a representative committee of Indigenous and DLSPH leaders. I am looking forward to working with Dr. Stewart, the WBIIH team and Indigenous community partners to advance Indigenous health issues through research and policy change. Click here to read more about Dr. Suzanne Stewart and her role with WBIIH.

Another strong leader was recruited to DLSPH in December 2016 to lead the Office of Global Public Health Education and Training and Collaborative Doctoral Program in Global Health. Dr. Erica Di Ruggiero — a DLSPH alumnae with extensive national and international global health leadership experience — will leverage global health activities at DLSPH to maximize the Faculty’s impact on population health and health systems. Click here to read more about Erica Di Ruggiero and her role.

Taking inspiration from this leadership refresh as well as recommendations offered by our three external reviewers (their formal report will be made available very soon), there are three key areas of focus that will guide the Faculty’s strategic priorities in 2017.

The first is budget and management transparency and ensuring that the DLSPH community has a sense of how various initiatives, causes and programs are funded and how major decisions and policies are made.  Regarding the DLSPH’s budget, a new budget committee will be established that will support the process of planning the School’s ever-expanding budget.  It will work closely with the Dean’s Office and Robin Hurst, DLSPH’s Chief Administrative Officer, to communicate key components of the academic budget narrative, and other relevant budget frameworks for the Faculty as appropriate.

Regarding management transparency, it is crucial that the responsibilities of DLSPH leadership and governance bodies — including the DLSPH executive committee, senior leadership team (colloquially referred to as “Dean’s Team”) and EDU directors — are clear and deliberations and decisions explained to the fullest extent possible.  The Dean’s Office is working with each of these groups to develop and update terms of reference documents and policies regarding minutes, which will be shared with the Faculty in the coming weeks.

Second, continuing the process of integrating aspects of the Public Health Sciences Graduate Unit and Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation is critical. The Dean’s Office is committed to supporting Professor Adalsteinn Brown and all members of the IHPME and PHS communities to identify and execute harmonization initiatives, such as developing new collaborative research; learning and student recruitment opportunities that capitalize on potential synergies; and creating efficiencies in relation to communications, advancement, and senior administration.

Finally, we will be working with all of you to develop and implement mechanisms for executing our new strategic plan and tracking its progress.   It will only be successful to the extent that we can deliberately align our efforts with the goals articulated in the plan, at the individual level as well as through our Committees, Centres, Institutes, Divisions, and other structures.

If there are any suggestions or comments on these three key areas of focus, and any feedback whatsoever about what’s happening in the DLSPH community, I encourage you to send me an email or an anonymous e-mail by completing the Anonymous Contact Form that is located in the Dean’s Corner website.