University of Toronto’s Faculty of Dentistry Ushering in Revamped Academic Structure
At the beginning of July, the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Toronto announced a new academic structure designed to streamline organization. It will be a transition for existing faculty and a challenge for those stepping into new positions, such as Vice-Deans of Education and Research and Associate Deans of Undergraduate and Graduate Education, respectively.

With the 2016-2017 academic year rapidly approaching, Dean Daniel Haas provides insight into some of the most common questions surrounding the restructuring:

What is the Purpose?

While the school’s structure has been functioning effectively for some time now, the Faculty feels that it is no longer the most efficient structure moving forward. According to Dean Haas, “Our structure may have served us well in the past, but we have to evolve to strengthen our two main missions of education and research…This restructuring is a chance for us to look forward – and to really consider what structure will serve us best to get there.”

One of the major issues the Faculty has been dealing with is “the perception of silos.” Under the old structure, there were two departments and 19 disciplines, each with its own discipline head. From various external reviews, they have learned that this excess of “mini-departments” stymies collaboration.

How Will Things Be Organized?

According to Dean Haas, restructuring will occur at two levels. “The academic administration will change and the current discipline and department structure will cease to exist.” As a result of the change, Faculty will now be organized according to programs: the DDS program, the IDAPP, and graduate programs that include training in all ten dental specialties.

While students will still have the opportunity to focus on various areas of expertise, or disciplines, these disciplines will no longer have their own structure. The Faculty, of course, will continue to honor its mandate for research and the provision of the clinical services that underscores their educational mission and supports research initiatives.

According to Dean Haas, “I’m also hoping that the breaking down of the [Discipline] barriers will facilitate greater cross-talk and collaboration in both our teaching programs and research initiatives. Finally, with the introduction of the Vice-Dean, Research and the Vice-Dean, Education, it unequivocally signals that education and research are equally important.”

What’s the Potentially Biggest Impact?

“This new structure will make our school even stronger than it is now,” says Dean Haas. “We shouldn’t stand still. The status quo should not be acceptable. We have to continually move forward to continue to have excellence. It will enable curricular change by facilitating both horizontal and vertical integration of courses. This means better coordination within each of the DDS years as well as progression from first year to fourth year. It will help research by facilitating collaboration and linkages to clinical outcomes and knowledge translation.”

Final Note

While any change requires time for both Faculty and students to adjust, Haas is confident that, over time, people will see the benefits of restructuring. “This reorganization is challenging but it’s worth it,” concludes Haas, “because the outcome will be a school that will be even better than it is now. And in the end, that’s what all of us should want.”

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Posted by: DSR
Thursday, September 1, 2016
Tag: Dental
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