Department of Psychiatry

Chair’s Welcome Reception: Dr. Benoit Mulsant’s Remarks, September 12, 2016

Department Chair Dr. Benoit Mulsant’s remarks – September 12, 2016 

Good evening – I am very pleased to welcome all of you this evening, and to see so many of you here at the beginning of a new academic year. I have been Chair for a year now, and I would like to take a few minutes to highlight some of the changes that have taken place within the Department during the past year and some of the transformation on the horizon.

Changes in Leadership

The credit for our successes during the past year goes to all of you and to the broader Department leadership. I would like to acknowledge the new leaders who have joined the SAC during the past year:

  • Mary Jane Esplen has been appointed Vice-Chair, Basic and Clinical Sciences
  • Alastair Flint has been appointed Vice-Chair, Research
  • Carole Cohen has been appointed Director of the Geriatric Division
  • Sonu Gaind has been appointed Co-Director of the Adult Psychiatry and Health Systems Division
  • Paula Ravitz has been appointed Director, Psychotherapies, Humanities and Education Scholarship Division

In addition, Alice Charach was appointed to the position of Medical Director of the Child and Youth Acute Care Collaborative (CAYAAC);  Yona Lunsky has been appointed Developmental Disability Lead; and Nadiya Sunderji has been appointed Integrated Mental Health Care Education Lead

Welcome to new faculty

We have welcomed 73 new faculty members during the past year, many of whom are among us this evening. I would like to more formally introduce three appointees at the senior rank:

  • Marco Battaglia – Associate Professor, Child & Adolescent Division
  • John Cunningham – Full Professor, Brain & Therapeutics
  • Cecilia Marino – Associate professor, Child & Adolescent Division

All our new faculty members bring with them a broad range of experiences and expertise, and add new perspectives to our Department. I encourage you to introduce yourself to them and to welcome them to our Department.


I would also like to congratulate our 12 colleagues who have been promoted to the rank of Assistant Professor during the past year and to acknowledge by name the 11 senior promotions:

7 were promoted to the ranks of Associate Professor

Daniel Blumberger, Adriana Carvalhal, John Court, Graham Glancy, Traci McFarlane, Jose Silveira and Lesley Wiesenfeld

4 were promoted to the ranks of Full Professor

Mark Hanson, Yona Lunsky, Myroslava Romach, Ari Zaretsky

These 23 promotions recognize outstanding contributions to the Department, commitment to teaching, and scholarship accomplishments for which I am thankful.

Major Awards & Leadership Appointments

Some of our faculty have also been appointed to leadership positions outside of the department or named as recipients of several prestigious awards. This is a testament to the impact our department not just on U. of T., but also on the broader communities in which we live and work. I cannot list them all but I want to give a special acknowledgment to a few exemplars (in alphabetical order):

  • Peter Collins received the Hal Lipset Truth in Action Award from the World Association of Detectives
  • Nathan Herrmann is the new Lewar Chair in Geriatric Psychiatry, succeeding Dr. Ken Shulman who was the inaugural Lewar Chair.
  • Raed Hawa & Antonio Pignatiello received the Association of Chairs of Psychiatry of Canada Awards
  • Brian Hodges received both the Abraham Flexner Award for Distinguished Service to Medical Education and the 2016 Karolinska Institutet Prize for Research in Medical Education.
  • Vivian Rakoff was appointed as Member of the Order of Canada
  • Vicky Stergiopoulos is the new Physician in Chief at CAMH
  • Dean Trevor Young received the 2015Colvin Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Mood Disorders Research by the Brain and Behaviour Research Foundation

Fundraising Updates

I want also to thank those of you who are contributing to the Department fund-raising efforts and are contributing to our Excellence funds and other funds. I want to acknowledge the receipt of five major gifts:

Education Updates

We continued in our role as the largest Psychiatry training program in North America and our 33 graduating residents achieved a 100% pass rate on the Royal College examinations.

New Academic Year Goals

Before we go back to the important activities of this evening – to eat, drink, and socialize with our colleagues – I would like to conclude with some thoughts about the coming year:

  • In terms of Education, we are launching our new competency based education curricula both for medical students and for psychiatry residents.
  • In terms of Research, we will continue to do our share to transform psychiatry with a remarkably diverse portfolio of studies.
  • Within our own Department, we have held a series of focus groups in the Spring. The findings will be shared with department members this Fall and they will lead to a series of projects to better engage and support all our faculty members.
  • You will all be invited to another Department-wide Town Hall in February 2017 to continue to provide input. As I did last year, I welcome any of you to share your thoughts by coming to talk to me or by sending me an e-mail.

Upcoming Events/Closing

I am glad to see so many of you here tonight. I hope you will attend our other signature events:

  • The 4th Mindfest, in 4 weeks, on Wednesday, October 5th at Hart House
  • Donald Wasylenki Education Day, in February
  • Harvey Stancer Research Day in June

Don’t forget our two other social events: the holidays party in December and the annual dinner in June.

It has been my privilege to serve as your Department Chair this past year and I hope you all enjoy the rest of this evening.

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