Celebrating the Inaugural Chairholder of the Richard and Sylvia Cruess Chair in Medical Education
“To see three of our community’s most generous donors come together to honour two of the Faculty’s finest, Dick and Sylvia Cruess, and to secure the future of the Centre for Medical Education — truly a jewel in McGill’s crown — is an absolutely wonderful feeling.” Chancellor Arnold Steinberg.
On September 7, over a hundred of McGill University’s most prominent leaders, colleagues and friends came together to celebrate the appointment of Yvonne Steinert as the inaugural Chairholder of the Richard and Sylvia Cruess Chair in Medical Education. The festive evening also provided an opportunity to give thanks to the generous donors who made the new Chair possible, Deirdre Stevenson and Robert Stevenson, BA’49, BD’61, Herbert Black and the Molson Foundation.
McGill Principal and Vice-Chancellor Heather Munroe-Blum was effusive in her praise of the remarkable community that came together — understanding the significance of excellence in education to McGill’s future — and supported the Chair. “Teaching is our legacy,” she said. “It is the link between present expertise and future discovery, and between the accomplishments of the generations of McGillians that preceded us and the even greater strides that will be taken by those that will follow.”
In her acceptance speech, Yvonne Steinert said she could not have imagined a more meaningful moment in her career. “An endowed Chair not only gives enduring visibility to the work of Richard and Sylvia Cruess but it also ensures that research will continue to inform practice as we continue to train future generations of health care professionals.” Steinert served from 1993 to 2011 as the Faculty’s first Associate Dean for Faculty Development and has been the Director of the Centre for Medical Education since 2005.
Samuel Benaroya, BSc’73, MDCM’75, Interim Vice-Principal (Health Affairs) and Interim Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, spoke of the impressive work of Steinert and the renown of the Centre itself, which bears many of the hallmarks of the Cruesses’ pioneering careers. He explained how the Chair that bears their name aptly reflects the core mission of McGill, transmitting knowledge and helping create new knowledge.
When it was their turn at the podium, the Cruesses had an unlikely but nevertheless perfect word from the Oxford English Dictionary to describe themselves: gratitudinarians: for those who make a show of gratitude. “For us, this is a magic moment in a magic day,” added Richard Cruess. “Had we been asked what would be our preferred legacy, it would have been some initiative in medical education, but a Chair in our name would have been beyond our wildest hopes.”
The fulfilment of those “wildest hopes” inspired well-wishers even from beyond the historic walls of Holmes Hall. A message from the Right Honourable David Johnston, Canada’s governor general and former McGill principal and vice-chancellor, was read out to the assembled guests. “This is a sparkling chapter in McGill’s splendid history and so consistent with the McGill character of constant innovation and world leadership,” his letter read. “We memorialize two giants of McGill and Canadian medicine and we begin another great run in changing how things are done for the better with Yvonne’s illuminating leadership in medical education and professionalism.”