By Karena Walter
The faculty of medicine was all smiles yesterday as Western's Senate merged it with the faculty of dentistry.
Uniting the med school, which has existed since 1878, with the 30-year-old dentistry school was first outlined in 1995 in the administration's strategic plan, Leadership in Learning.
The structural changes were made in the face of budgetary constraints but the administration promoted the opportunities that will emerge from the new partnership.
Dean of medicine Robert McMurtry focused on the similarities between the two faculties. "We exist to contribute to the life and quality of those we serve."
Both faculties share the value to seek knowledge and the conviction that the most effective partnerships are those in which co-operation takes place with others in the community, he said.
"We celebrate this opportunity for collaboration."
McMurtry said there has been enthusiasm from all sides about the opportunity to continue together missions of care, research and education.
"There is a commitment from both faculties to see this succeed, he said. "This is not a shot-gun marriage."
McMurtry will become the dean of the new faculty of medicine and dentistry. Current dean of dentistry Ralph Brooke will not have an administrative title but said after being a dean for 15 years he is looking forward to being out of the administration.
Brooke told Senate he wished to express gratitude for the sensitive way McMurtry has handled the merger.
"This really has been an example of hard work and sensitivity working towards a common goal," VP-academic Greg Moran said.
However, faculty association president Doug Baer said he was concerned about loose ends and how democratic the partnership actually was. "I'm really worried about the details and the involvement in the faculties with those details."
McMurtry said there are differences all people engaged in the issue know exist and they need time to sort through them. He added there has been discussion, emails and web postings from which interested people could gain information. "I think there has been adequate opportunity for people to engage [in the process]."
The VP-executive of the Hippocratic Council, the student representative body in the faculty of medicine, said the merger was inevitable and should make things more efficient, with research and the streamlining of some classes. "It indicates the school is stronger in some ways," John Gillis said.
"We're working closely with the dental students' society," he said. "We have a pretty positive relationship with [them]."
"I'm delighted that the merger received overwhelming Senate approval today," president Paul Davenport said. "The two faculties showed their goodwill and commitment in arriving at a conclusion approved by both faculty councils."