An Exceptional Experience – Richard I. Levin
“I want you to know it has been an exceptional experience here at McGill. My wife Jane and I had very high expectations of what this adventure might be like and literally every one of them was fulfilled.” These words of farewell from Vice Principal (Health Affairs) and Dean of Medicine, Richard I. Levin, were recorded in a special video address to the Faculty’s alumni community. He thanked and praised the numerous McGillians who have greeted him along the way and whose generosity has helped the Faculty continue to boldly expand the scope of its critical mission.
Five years of dramatic physical transformations on campus and beyond, the galvanizing of McGill’s vast health sciences community behind common causes, a once-in-a-generation strategic planning initiative, fundraising success of historic proportions, not to mention adaptation to a new city, new culture and new country – it has been quite the term for Levin.
Dr. Richard I. Levin came to McGill in 2006 from the New York University (NYU) School of Medicine, where he was Vice-Dean for Education, Faculty and Academic Affairs. He practiced medicine for 25 years at New York’s Bellevue Hospital and held several other clinical and academic posts, including full professor of medicine at NYU and Director of Training Programs in Cardiovascular Disease. As a cardiologist, his particular interests have been endothelial cell biology and the prevention of atherothrombotic events. He was highly involved in the development of new information technologies in medical education, having established NYU’s Advanced Learning Exchange (ALEX), a computer-based educational environment.
Levin has received numerous awards and honours, including the Heart of New York Mission Award in recognition of his 20-plus years of leadership at the American Heart Association and the David Johnston Award, for his exemplary service in encouraging alumni support of McGill’s medical endeavours.
His profound respect for the Oslerian tradition, coupled with a commitment to readying medicine for the future, especially in the new era of genomics, found a natural home at McGill’s Faculty of Medicine. His tenure was a time of important change and progress.
Through the strategic planning exercise, “Think Dangerously,” he challenged faculty members to reinvent the future of medical education and research. The results of the 48 months of work include the upcoming implementation of a revamped undergraduate curriculum. He also successfully collaborated with McGill’s health partners to create the McGill Academic Health Network, which will align efforts between the Faculty and the McGill University Health Centre, St. Mary’s Hospital Center, the Jewish General Hospital and the Douglas Mental Health University Institute.
The last five years were also marked by enormous growth. The Life Sciences Complex – the largest infrastructure project in McGill’s history – was opened in 2008, thanks to the vision and perseverance of several Faculty members. It includes the Bellini Building and the Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Research Centre, as well as the McIntyre Medical Sciences Building and the Stewart Biology Building. Another pivotal achievement came just this spring when the world-renowned genomicist, Mark Lathrop, took the helm of the McGill University and Génome Québec Innovation Centre. Levin was integral to these and numerous other efforts, from the recruitment of new chairs and directors to the establishment of new bursaries and scholarships – adroitly playing the role of leader, negotiator and visionary. Levin had the distinct pleasure at the beginning of 2011 to announce that the Faculty had surpassed its fundraising goal of $130 million, testimony to his ability to rally many people behind a vision and important causes.