U of S Provost clarifies expectations of leaders and accreditation of School of Public Health

Brett Fairbairn, Provost and vice-President Academic at the University of Saskatchewan, issued the following statement today to clarify issues surrounding the university's School of Public Health (SPH).

"I would like to address one of the issues that has been raised, namely the responsibilities of deans and senior leaders. Leadership positions are roles of trust and stewardship. Being a leader is always and only about service. This includes putting the good of the organization ahead of one's own interests or views. Where the organization has had its discussions, followed its processes, and set its directions, leaders must work in good faith to implement those directions.

Leadership comes with the privileges of having access to confidential information and having the ability to shape decision-making from within. Deans and other senior leaders have had those opportunities throughout the TransformUS process, including numerous occasions to raise views and information in small and large group settings and in reviewing and redrafting documents.

It is not open to anyone to wear the hat of a leader and a non-leader simultaneously."

Fairbairn addressed these concerns with deans and other leaders at the university today, and also provided facts on issues related to accreditation:
The MPH program (not the School of Public Health) is accredited.  It is accredited with a European agency, and in the European context it is common for public-health schools to be located in faculties of medicine.  The accreditors review governance, and the idea of a program within a medical school will not be new to them.

It is not true that the 2007 task force report insisted the SPH be independent in order to be accredited. The report to council is on the website and is worth re-reading. The 2007 vision focused quite substantially on interdisciplinary research and research-based graduate programs, not on the professional MPH degree. The 2007 research and graduate goals remain to be realised in a new structure.

The SPH as an organizational entity has been troubled since its early days and has given rise to repeated complaints and investigations that have occupied my office and others.  While I do not wish to speak about the details, a change in organizational model may be helpful.

Comments about the College of Medicine overlook the facts that the college contains an accredited School of Physical Therapy and a well-ranked Department of Community Health and Epidemiology.  Accreditation issues in that college relate to the clinical departments and the undergraduate Medicine program.

While it is not yet determined that SPH or other units will indeed fit under the College of Medicine, this is a logical solution that offers three advantages.  It would reduce the size of senior administration.  It would create a cluster of several schools oriented toward a broader vision of health, with interesting potentials for synergy and efficiency.  And it would ensure that the medical school is engaged in rather than apart from the university's vision for public health.  We will also be open to other creative solutions that might offer similar or better advantages.

Our new Dean of Medicine, is interested in building the medical school's capacity in prevention, health promotion, and health-systems research.

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