Posted November 2, 2010
by Marta Cyperling
Deans from the Faculty of Medicine spanning four decades gathered for an intimate lecture last Friday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first medical school class admitted into the Faculty. The room was filled as more than one hundred alumni, current faculty and students came together to listen to the speakers tell anecdotes, recall challenges and comment on the future growth of the school.
Dr. William Cochrane, the founding Dean of Medicine, reminisced on the challenges and opportunities presented to him when he launched the medical school. As Dean between 1967-1973 he had limited resources but managed to introduce a systems-based approach to teaching medicine and started one of only two three-year MD training programs in Canada.
Dr. Warren Veale spoke on behalf of Dr. Lionel McLeod who was the Faculty Dean from 1973-1981. During these years the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (AHMFR) now Alberta Innovates Health Solutions (AI-HS) was created. This program helped recruit some of the brightest researchers to the University.
In the 1980’s Dr. Mo Watanabe brought international recognition to the Faculty for its expanded research role and its pioneering use of telemedicine in rural Alberta. During his years as Dean between 1981 – 1992 the Faculty was able to expand and the Heritage Medical Research Building was constructed. The office of community affairs and fund development was also developed and a $50,000 endowment grew into a $50,000,000 endowment.
Dr. Eldon Smith served as Dean from 1992 until 1997 and had the challenge of extensive budget cuts to education programs as well as healthcare. Dr. Smith however focused on the Faculty’s many successes in those years, including a patient-based curriculum system as well as global heath initiatives in the Philippines and Laos.
There was tremendous growth in the Faculty while Dr. Grant Gall was Dean between 1997 and 2007. Dr. Pam Sokol spoke on his behalf as Dr. Gall passed away suddenly last year.
During his time as Dean, the Bachelor of Health Sciences program was started and the Faculty’s research institutes were created as a way of organizing research and fostering interactions between researchers. There was also the development of space and buildings during this time as construction on the Health Research Innovation Centre (HRIC) and Teaching Research and Wellness (TRW) building began.
The lecture concluded with Dr. Tom Feasby, the current Dean of Medicine. Dr. Feasby reflected on the tremendous achievements of the last 40 years.