Message from the President: Continuing the Positivity and Collaboration at UPEI
The following message was distributed to faculty and staff by email on May 30, 2022 on behalf of the Office of the President.
Dear UPEI Faculty and Staff,
With the completion of three very successful weeks, including our first in-person Convocation ceremonies since 2019, the opening of the Canadian Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation, and consultations with Island Indigenous and other community groups on the new medical program, this weekend gave me some time to reflect on the progress we have made towards our shared priorities.
Our students continue to be the top priority of the University. I want to thank all those who contributed to the successful completion of the semester. I was very encouraged by the level of collegiality shown by members of the community, particularly the decorum shown at our numerous special and regular Senate meetings over the winter and spring. Several challenging topics were addressed in an atmosphere of mutual respect, including navigating the return to in-person teaching amid ever-changing public health advice. I also want to congratulate Donna Sutton, Anne Bartlett, and members of the Student Services team on their partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association for peer supporter training using new funding from Health Canada. The funding enables peer-to-peer support by those who have lived experience with mental health or substance use issues. UPEI is one of only five Universities to partner in this initiative.
Public town hall meetings were held last week in six locations across the Island, as well as with Indigenous organizations. The meetings focussed on integration of medical education in Indigenous and other communities across PEI. The meetings generated lots of positive comments and good suggestions from members of the University community and the broader public to overcome the challenges associated with the project. Our vision, which is shared with the Province, Health PEI, and Medical Society of PEI, is to have our medical education program benefit the whole of the Island from “tip to tip.” We are working with the medical community to develop a process to integrate the program into the broader health system in a way that supports physicians. While there is still much to be done to ensure success, we are encouraged by both the public support and the collaborations we have developed with the medical community. As was previously shared when we launched the www.upei.ca/medicine website and promoted the town halls, members of the community may continue to provide comments and make suggestions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
To support the new Faculty of Medicine, we will construct a new medical/health building on a site on the north campus. The new facility will house an expanded UPEI Health and Wellness Centre medical clinic, providing easy-to-access services to approximately 10,000 patients from the University and broader community. The building will feature state-of-the-art simulation laboratories that will benefit nursing, veterinary medicine, and paramedicine as well as the PEI medical community. As a major training site for the MD program, the facility will include the co-location/integration of other health professionals—nurse practitioners, psychologists, and others. This aligns with the model of providing health care through medical homes where doctors work alongside allied health colleagues. Ground for the new building is expected to be broken this summer.
One of the key next steps in developing the program is the hiring of a dean. After consultations with the Board of Governors on the search committee structure and Senate on populating that structure, we are moving forward with a committee consisting of representatives from veterinary medicine, science, nursing (one representative each), and one additional representative drawn from the other faculties. In addition, there will be a member from our partner in the joint program, Memorial University; two representatives from the PEI physician community; and a student representative. With Dr. Greg Naterer, our new Vice-President Academic and Research (VPAR), having begun his appointment on May 2, we are now moving forward on search processes for the Associate Vice-President Research and Dean of Graduate Studies and the Dean of Nursing. Consultation is underway for searches in two additional faculties. I expect that this number of active searches for senior administrators is unprecedented in the history of UPEI.
Advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) continues to be a top priority. I am very pleased that Dr. Kathy Gottschall-Pass, our very capable past interim VPAR, has agreed to work closely with our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Officer, Ms. Patti Wheatley, on developing and implementing action plans from the EDI strategy.
We continue to move forward with many exciting new initiatives. As noted above, we have now officially opened the Canadian Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation in St. Peter’s Bay. In consultation with the faculty in both Environmental Studies and the School of Climate Change and Adaptation (CCA), there was consensus to continue with the Director and Associate Dean models for each program. Subsequently, Dr. Aitazaz Farooque was named interim Associate Dean for the CCA, after a nomination process within the faculty. Similar processes will be used, where possible, when interim appointments are made in future.
The Faculty of Indigenous Knowledge, Education, Research and Applied Studies continues to take great strides—moving the University towards reconciliation and Indigenization. Between more symbolic acts, such as the installation of the tipi in the quadrangle and the keepsake stoles presented to our Indigenous graduates by the Mawi’omi Centre, to more concrete actions like developing curricula for passing on Indigenous knowledge and recruiting tenure-track, term, and sessional faculty for the program, UPEI is making progress.
I want to thank everyone for their continued support. Together with my team and all members of the University community, I will continue to work to advance the University and foster an environment of positivity and collaboration moving forward.
GREG KEEFE, DVM, MSc, MBA (he/him)
President and Vice-Chancellor (Interim)
University of Prince Edward Island