As educators in the health sciences, we’ve been striving for a long time to ensure that our expertise and resources are shared with people in need through our commitment to community service.
We have also taken significant steps to ensure that the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences is broadly inclusive and reflects the diversity of Manitoba’s population.
But there is much more to be done in both these areas. A few months ago, I announced two new Rady Faculty-wide initiatives: an Office of Community Engagement (read more on page 22) and a Diversity Committee.
As you know, the U of M is a publicly funded institution with a responsibility to serve all Manitobans. From a newborn baby in inner-city Winnipeg to an Elder in a remote Indigenous community, every Manitoban is a U of M stakeholder. What we mean by “social accountability” is that no resident of the province can be left out of our circle.
Our new Office of Community Engagement will centralize, streamline and strengthen our community partnerships across all five colleges of the Rady Faculty. A new social accountability committee, made up of equal numbers of faculty from across the Rady Faculty colleges and community members, will act as an advisory board to the office.
The Office of Community Engagement will help us listen and respond to communities’ needs and aspirations, recognizing that community members possess valuable expertise and knowledge.
We will collaborate respectfully with community organizations on health service, education and research projects that build community capacity. We will hold events to recognize and thank our partner organizations for the learning opportunities they provide to our students and faculty.
The Office, under the leadership of Dr. Ian Whetter and Karen Cook, will support knowledge-exchange events in community settings, such as Sunshine House’s successful “Science and Supper,” a series that combines a nutritious meal with an accessible talk by a U of M representative on a topic chosen by the community.
Our new Diversity Committee is also an initiative to widen our circle, similarly based on values of respect, inclusion, equity and collaboration. This committee will be diverse in makeup and include community representation.
It will advise me and make recommendations to ensure that the Rady Faculty further incorporates concepts of diversity and inclusion into its learning and working environments.
This committee will uphold our commitment to Indigenous peoples, women, people with disabilities, persons of colour, and people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities that their voices will be heard in Rady Faculty decision-making and they will see themselves equitably represented among our students, staff, faculty and leadership.
We are in the process of hiring a new Rady Faculty of Health Sciences Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) practice lead who will develop an EDI strategy that aligns with the Faculty’s vision, mission, values, goals and existing business strategies.
The practice lead will look at many of our functions through an EDI lens. The lead will provide support in designing decolonization and/or anti-racism policies and training for students, faculty and staff, and will initiate and deliver recruitment and retention efforts with a specific EDI focus.
Every Manitoban has a story, a thirst for learning and the capacity to be a teacher. I firmly believe that each time we welcome another person who would traditionally have been excluded from the university circle, we are all enriched.
BRIAN POSTL [MD/76]
Vice-Provost (Health Sciences) & Dean,
Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba