Dean’s Message

Portrait of Dr. Peter Nickerson.

More than a century ago, Max Rady [MD/1921] graduated from UM as a physician. It was an era when the First World War and the Winnipeg General Strike were recent events. The City of Winnipeg was not yet 50 years old. But our medical college was already going strong.

Imagine the unbroken chain of teachers and students, mentors and mentees, that reaches back and connects us to the visionary founders who started the medical school – the first in Western Canada – in 1883.

It’s amazing to contemplate the transformation that has taken place at what is now the Max Rady College of Medicine, and across all colleges in the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences. But I also see amazing continuity – an ongoing commitment to excellence in education, research and service that has been handed down in a remarkable spirit of shared purpose.  

In November 2023, many of us came together to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the medical college at a spectacular gala.

We were delighted to welcome as guests Max Rady’s son, Ernest Rady [BComm/58, LLB/62, LLD/15], and his wife Evelyn Rady [BA/60, BSW/61, MSW/67], the philanthropists whose unprecedented support is reflected in the name of the medical college and the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences.   

As Ernest spoke at the gala, it struck me that he is a living link to a UM alum who delivered care 100 years ago. It was moving to hear him describe Max’s devotion to his patients.

That evening, UM alumni from classes spanning eight decades – the 1950s to the 2020s – reconnected, hugged, laughed, and in many cases expressed gratitude to a mentor. There was a tangible feeling that we have something extraordinarily special at UM that links generations in each of our health professional programs.

Many of us have worked at other universities and institutions. Without fail, I hear colleagues say that the spirit of collaboration at UM is unmatched. It might be related to our relatively small size, but I perceive a unique willingness to pass the torch with humility and generosity. You might call it a mandate to mentor.

We can be justifiably proud of our community partnerships and our interprofessional alliances across disciplines and sectors. We have been highly successful recently in joining forces with the Government of Manitoba to expand our programs, responding to the current challenges in health-care delivery.

As I shared with you in our last issue, we are on the cusp of a generational expansion across the Rady Faculty (read more on page 6). In the spring we will break ground for our first new building on the Bannatyne campus in more than 15 years (see pages 6 and 13).

In the fall of 2024, our respiratory therapy (RT) program in the College of Rehabilitation Sciences will double in size to 40 students to address shortages across the province in this specialized field.

We offer the only English-language undergraduate entry-to-practice RT program in Canada. Program graduates currently have a 100 per cent employment rate.

But it’s not enough just to expand our class sizes. Across all our Rady Faculty programs, we continue to take action to increase student diversity by implementing equitable admission processes and removing barriers for under-represented populations.

Stay tuned for more on this commitment.

Peter Nickerson [B.Sc.(Med.)/86, MD/86]
Vice-Provost (Health Sciences) & Dean, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba