Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Looking back and looking ahead

Dean Richard Reznick reflects on his last 10 years leading the Faculty of Health Sciences and discusses what's next as his term comes to a close.

Photo of Dean Richard Reznick
Richard Reznick has served as Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences for 10 years and overseen many advancements in research and education during his tenure.

On June 30, 2020, Richard Reznick will end his term as Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences after serving in the role for the past 10 years. The Gazette connected with him to talk about his work over the past decade and what he has planned for the future, as Dean Emeritus.

Looking back on the past 10 years, how do you think the Faculty of Health Sciences has changed? How about Queen’s more generally?

The Faculty of Health Sciences has advanced in many ways over the last 10 years. Our three schools (medicine, nursing and rehabilitation therapy) are working more closely together than ever before. We’ve started a large array of new educational programs that didn’t exist before and will serve Queen’s well in the future. We are proud of our research accomplishments, having had our best year ever in 2019-20 in terms of research funding, and have a strong foundation for future success with vibrant research centers, 17 new academic chairs established in the last decade and the recent hiring of many new “research all-stars.”

It has been great to see Queen’s flourish in the last decade. It’s clearly one of the most popular universities in the country for learners. It’s in a strong financial position. And it has done a lot of work in equity, diversity, inclusion and Indigeneity; although there is more work to do, we should all be proud of the work that has been done to date.

How have you changed as a dean over the last 10 years?

Before I started the position I had some idea of the responsibilities that I was taking on, but not a complete understanding of the magnitude. Having been a faculty member for 30 years, I knew the importance of a great group of professors for any faculty, but perhaps what I appreciate more now is the importance of our staff, and how critical they are to the function and success of a faculty.

I have learned about how to lead a faculty, about the running of a university, and about all of the nuances of the interface between a faculty and the university. I also have gained an incredible appreciation for what I believe to be our biggest asset, our students, and how our fate is inextricably linked to the quality of our students which in turn is totally dependent on the quality of the educational programs and the research opportunities. Students became the focal point during my deanship, and I’m not sure I appreciated 10 years ago just how central they are to the success of the university’s mission.

What are some of the accomplishments you are most proud of during your tenure as dean?

I’m sure I will miss something, but what immediately comes to mind is our accomplishments in education and research. In the last decade, we have established 15 new programs. And we were the first in Canada to transition 29 of our residency programs to competency-based medical education. Our research portfolio has grown significantly and we have seen major successes across our research centres despite the last decade being a particularly challenging time for research in Canada.

And I am of course proud of our students. We attract the best and the brightest from all over Canada and we have extremely high student satisfaction across all three of our schools. With student diversity as a priority, we created our own action plan in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, and I am extremely proud that this fall the Faculty of Health Sciences will be welcoming its largest cohort of Indigenous students to date.

What’s next for you? And how will your experiences as dean influence how you approach your next role?

My wife has forbidden me from taking on another full-time role and dutifully I am going to obey. The most important next role that I’m taking on is president of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. It’s a part-time commitment, but I’m looking forward to it. I have been involved with the college for the last 30 years, and I am excited about the privilege of being its president and am proud to be representing its 53,000 specialists across the country.

I will be on administrative leave for next 15 months. In that capacity, I will be working with the Vice-Principal (Advancement) to foster Queen’s philanthropic mission as well as continuing work on the partnership that we have established with Haramaya University in Ethiopia to implement three new medical training programs. I will also continue work on the Premier’s Council for improving healthcare and ending hallway medicine in Ontario.

Do you have any parting messages for the Queen’s community?

My mantra to the students has always been “be restless.” In my first effort at strategic planning, I thought hard about what our faculty’s vision statement might be, and came up with eight words: Ask Questions, Seek Answers, Advance Care, Inspire Change. All eight words in that statement have been important for me, both personally and for the faculty as a whole, but I think the last two, Inspire Change, are especially pertinent to anyone in the Queen’s community. I hope that as our students, faculty and staff continue to pursue their dreams, that they always have that spirit of inquiry, and are restless so that tomorrow’s health care can be better than today’s.