Gillian Muir appointed Dean of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine


Muir is both the first woman and the first WCVM graduate to hold the post of Dean.

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Dr. Gillian Muir became the new Dean of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan effective July 1. Muir takes on this role after serving on an interim basis last year. Originally from Calgary, she graduated from the WCVM class of 1988, making her the first college alumnus to be its dean, in addition to being the first woman in the role. Muir spoke to Postmedia after his appointment. The questions and answers have been modified.

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Q: Have you ever gotten used to using the new title?

A: I have been ‘playing’ for a while, then ‘acting’ already. But it is good to finally settle for this signature for your e-mail.

Q: What is the role of WCVM?

A: We are the veterinary college of British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. So we are training the veterinarians of tomorrow. And we train specialists – a lot of people don’t know that, but there are a lot of specialist vets who are in great demand. These surgeons, cardiologists, ophthalmologists, we are the only place in Western Canada where specialist veterinarians are trained. We run a veterinary hospital that serves Saskatoon and the Prairies, it’s 24 hours a day, all different species, all these benchmark specialties.

We also do research. We monitor the diseases of our herds of animals, we monitor the diseases of wildlife. We are working on the development of vaccines. So, VIDO – which many people have heard about through their work on vaccines and their role during the pandemic – VIDO was started by researchers at the veterinary college. We continue to be closely associated with VIDO.

Q: What do you think it means for the college to have a woman in charge and to have the first WCVM graduate to come back to be dean?

A: Our class (in 1988) was the first class that had more students than students. That kind of never looked back after that. It was also part of a trend across North America and Europe, where more and more women were applying to vet school. So we’re at the point where, for many, many years now, at least 80 percent of our graduate students are women.

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So I think it could go hand in hand, that as our cohort progresses in our careers and I progress in my career, we take on more leadership roles.

Q: How was your arrival as Acting Dean during a pandemic?

A: It was really a crash course in online relationship building. Because, of course, now I was meeting new people in the industry, I was meeting new people in government, people in professional organizations and other veterinary colleges. And I had to develop these relationships online.

A lot of the work I was doing was very operational, just a lot of day-to-day management and decision-making for all of these things that kept coming back because of the restrictions, the way we had to work. Everyone left college, but of course we run an entire hospital here and the hospital has remained open. So the hospital was extremely, extremely busy. All the clinicians and staff came together to work around the clock just to handle any cases that came up.

Q: What do you expect from the drop in restrictions?

A: One thing we are really looking forward to is meeting at vet school. We had face to face teaching last year, we were allowed to run labs and practicals in small cohorts. But this year, we are back face to face. Vet med is a very practical and team oriented profession and we have to learn that way.

  1. Director and CEO of VIDO Volker Gerdts

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  2. SASKATOON, SK - OCTOBER 29 / 2018-9999 News Vet Med- Dr. Doug Freeman, Dean of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine takes a photograph in the Large Animal Clinic of the College of Veterinary Medicine on the campus of the University of the Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, SK on Monday, October 29, 2018.

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