As the 2010-11 Academic Year draws to a close, I would like to highlight some of the recent developments in the Department of Surgery, and inform you of the initiatives that lie ahead. We have once again enjoyed a very successful year from all standpoints, and I congratulate the entire faculty, residents and fellows for continuing to strive for excellence in surgical patient care, teaching, research, and peer review publications. A special thanks again to David Latter who served as Interim Chair of the Department from May 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011. David did a superb job leading us through some challenging times, and was an outstanding steward for the Department of Surgery. I am grateful to David for remaining in his role as Vice Chair of Education on the Executive Committee. We have much to be proud of in the Department of Surgery this past year.
The New Executive Committee of the Department of Surgery

I am pleased to report to you that Ori Rotstein has been appointed to the position of Associate Chair of the Department. He has taken over from Bryce Taylor who served the Department as Associate Chair for 15 years. Bryce performed his last surgical procedure last month, and will now be assisting UHN with its international outreach program in Kuwait.

I am also pleased to inform you that Robin McLeod has been appointed to the position of Vice-Chair Quality and Best Practices in the Department. Robin has been leading the Best Practices in General Surgery (BPiGS) initiative at the University of Toronto these past 5 years, and will lead efforts to encourage best practices across all Divisions in the Department.

With the institution of the Integrated Medical Education (IME) initiative in the Faculty of Medicine, it became clear to me that a new chair for the Department’s Appointments Committee was needed, and so I am pleased to report to you that Avery Nathens has agreed to take on this responsibility.

2011 Executive Committee of the Department of Surgery
RS McLaughlin Chair:  James Rutka
Associate Chair:  Ori Rotstein
Vice Chair Research:  Ben Alman
Vice Chair Education:  David Latter
Vice Chair Clinical:  Robin Richards
Vice Chair Quality and Best Practices:  Robin McLeod
Chair Departmental Appointments Committee:  Avery Nathens
Departmental Promotions Committee
One of the most important roles of the Department of Surgery is the Chair of the Promotions Committee. Robin Richards will be stepping down from this position, having served in the role of Chair of the Promotions Committee for 10 years. I would like to thank Robin for his Herculean efforts as Chair of this Committee all these years. I am pleased to report to you that Sender Herschorn, Chair Division of Urology, has agreed to be the new Chair of the Promotions Committee for a 5-year term beginning July 1, 2011. Sender has served on the Department’s Promotions Committee and the Decanal Committee in the past, and is ideally suited to lead the charge here. I remind all faculty interested in pursuing promotions this year to ensure that they use the WebCV program for submission to the Department’s Promotion Committee.
Director of Undergraduate Medical Education Search
Having served as Director of Undergraduate Medical Education for the past 7 years, David Backstein will be stepping down from this position. I would like to thank David for his tireless efforts on behalf of the Department of Surgery. David’s work in this position was pivotal in designing the “Crash Course” for the clerkship, revamping the curriculum to include key cases and procedures to count towards the surgical experience, and preparing medical students for the MCCQE examinations. The search for David’s replacement in this position is ongoing. 
Director Surgical Skills Centre at Mount Sinai Search
After serving as Director of the Surgical Skills Centre (SSC) at Mount Sinai for 10 years, Helen MacRae will be stepping down from this position. Helen has been instrumental in preserving the integrity and superior quality of training at the SSC, maintaining its accreditation as an Education Institute within the American College of Surgeons. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Helen sincerely for her tremendous efforts these past 10 years. The search for Helen’s replacement will be conducted shortly. 
Other Department of Surgery Searches
This year, searches will be conducted for the Chair in the Division of Urology to replace Sender Herschorn who has successfully completed a 10-year term; and for the Ricard Chair in the Division of Neurosurgery, currently held by Chris Wallace who has been in this position for the past 15 years.
Department of Surgery Strategic Planning Process
This fall, we will begin a new strategic planning process. Our last strategic plan, “Breaking Through the Boundaries”, was conducted in 2004. On this occasion, we will focus our efforts on education, research, faculty development, advancement, quality of surgical care, innovation, simulation, and international surgery. The timing of our strategic planning exercise is indeed opportune as the Faculty of Medicine is completing its strategic plan this fall under the tag-line of “Integration, Innovation, and Impact”.
In Closing
I look forward to working with all of you towards our shared goals in the months and years ahead. A reminder that this summer there will be a celebration for the PGY1s at our home on Saturday July 9th, and a barbecue party for the fellows at Hart House on Tuesday August 2nd. Until the start of the new academic year and program in September, please allow me to take this opportunity to wish all of you a happy and healthy summer.

I have temporarily selected "excelsior" as the title of the Department of Surgery e-newsletter. It is Latin for "ever upward". Please let me know what you think.

James T. Rutka, MD, PhD
R.S. McLaughlin Professor and Chair
Department of Surgery
University of Toronto