Proposed overhaul to U of S college of medicine hits stumbling block
University of Saskatchewan professors and doctors outraged by proposed structural changes to the institution’s college of medicine came out in droves Thursday afternoon to force the school to revisit the decision.
The changes, which would have divided the college into three new divisions -- the divisions of clinical research, medical education, and biomedical and population sciences -- are necessary, according to university administrators, in order to encourage more research and to make the faculty more accountable for their teaching responsibilities.
“The clock is ticking,” said university provost and vice-president academic Brett Fairburn, who has been an ardent supporter of the changes.
The medical school is currently under a warning of probation from academic accreditors, students rank well below the national average and the school is often ignored when it comes to research grants, he said.
As a result, sweeping changes are necessary and need to be made as soon as possible, said Fairburn.
“The college does not have 10 years (to wait). In fact it does not have another 10 months,” he said, referring to a March 2013 deadline when accreditators will visit the school.
But after a 45 minute debate, there was little appetite for what Fairburn and other supporters were saying.
Just over two-thirds of the general academic assembly (GAA) voted to send the motion back to the university’s council.
“We are extremely pleased,” said professor Claire Card of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine of the results. “We are feeling like the democratic voice of the collegiate was heard -- that people understood the issues.”
Card said she recongizes and supports the need for change, but emphasized that a three-prong model is simply a Band-Aid solution which doesn’t address the school’s real problems.
“When you look at the statistics for the college of medicine, there are very few full-time faculty or part-time faculty compared to all the comparator institutions. So we are proportionally not likely to be successful.”
Card’s comments were echoed by many other opponents, who argued that the proposed changes that were devised by the school’s administrators do not understand what the faculty needs.
“The college of medicine wants change,” said Dr. Tom Wilson, chair of the college’s faculty council. “We just don’t want this particular structure that was handed to us.”
The proposal will now return to the university’s council on September 20. If two-thirds of its members re-affirm the plan, the structural changes will go into effect.