He prefers the north of Canada to the south. He’d take the country over the city any day, and has two acreages, one outside Saskatoon and one near Oliver, B.C., where he can breathe the clean air. He loves his John Deere 4230 tractor. Uswak and his wife MaryAnn rescue dogs, old racehorses, donkeys and ponies because “there are lots of animals, who need good homes, and there are not enough good homes to go around.”
But that’s his private side. On the public side, as dean of the College of Dentistry, he is no less committed to what he believes. Since he was first named to the position, Uswak has been an outspoken advocate for his college, for where he believes it needs to go to ensure the people of Saskatchewan are well served by the dental professionals it graduates.
At the same time, he has tried to improve the fit of dentistry in the institutional structure of the University of Saskatchewan.
It has been an uphill road but Uswak has never wavered in his commitment to doing what he believes is best for the college, its faculty and students, and the university. Nor has he pulled any punches along the way.
“If I say something, it’s because I think it needs to be said. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes in endears you to people, sometimes it pisses people off but it’s who I am, and you have to be true to yourself.”
At the end of June, Uswak will leave the dean’s office after announcing last year his decision to step down part way through his second five-year term. In a wide-ranging interview for Recall, he talked about what brought him to the College of Dentistry, the challenges that came with the job and his optimistic vision for its future.