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February 19, 2004
 Meet Memorial


Finger on the pulse

Carol Ann Walker
Carol Ann Walker

By Sharon Gray
During her 17 years working at Memorial, Carol Ann Walker has taken on an increasingly responsible role. She is now senior secretary in the Office of the Dean, Faculty of Medicine, and is about to face the challenge of working with her fourth dean of medicine. Since 1986 she has worked with Dr. Albert Cox, Dr. David Hawkins and Dr. Ian Bowmer, as well as acting deans Dr. Verna Skanes and the current acting dean, Dr. Sharon Peters. On April 5 she will be the right hand person to the new dean of medicine, Dr. James Rourke.

Ms. Walker started out as a contractual employee in Human Resources, moving after several months to the Office of Research then to the Office of the Dean of Science before settling into the Faculty of Medicine. At first she worked with then-associate dean for administration, Dr. Robert Mowbray, also helping out in the Admissions Office and the Finance Office when he was on sabbatical. She began doing Faculty Council minutes and moved into the dean’s office. Dr. Cox was dean of medicine at the time but nine months later he was appointed vice-president (health sciences and professional schools) and Dr. Hawkins became dean of medicine for the next nine years, followed by acting dean Dr. Skanes and then Dr. Bowmer from Jan. 1, 1996, until the end of 2003.

There have been many changes over the years, and Ms. Walker said that different deans have very different styles of management. “Dr. Cox was really formal; Dr. Hawkins and Dr. Bowmer were like chalk and cheese. They were both really excellent in their own way, but their personalities were totality different. Dr. Hawkins’ number one priority was the students; with Dr. Bowmer everyone was equally important and he spent a lot of time developing outside connections. He was really supportive of faculty and staff development.”
The dean’s office has grown over the years and there are now three secretaries plus Ms. Walker, as well as a Human Resources representative. “I do supervise the secretaries but right now everyone knows their job so well they don’t require that much supervision.”

Much of Ms. Walker’s job involves doing the paperwork for all actions associated with faculty member appointments – full and part-time, requests for sabbatical leave, cross appointments and resignations. Along with the faculty data, there are a variety of committees, including two promotion and tenure committees that need to be set up annually, and the recommendations from these committees also need to be prepared.

“My next goal is to get the dean’s office Web site up and running,” she said. “Over time, so much information is retained by people and often the information is not written down. People leave and knowledge is lost. I would like to have all information relating to committees and ‘how-to’ procedures on the Web so that it can be accessed quickly and updated on a regular basis.”

An entire wall of Ms. Walker’s office is occupied by file cabinets, representing the 600 plus full and part-time members of the Faculty of Medicine. Keeping these files up-to-date can often be difficult.

Working at the moment with Dr. Peters is challenging for Ms. Walker. “I said to her one day, ‘I can’t keep up with you and the change of pace. Dr. Bowmer was more laid back!’ However, having a shaking up is probably a good thing – it keeps you on your toes.”

It’s less than two months before Ms. Walker will face yet another change of pace. “I think working with the new dean, Dr. Rourke, will be very challenging because he comes from outside of the province and it will take some time to get to know people within Memorial and government, particularly the Department of Health and Community Services. I am sure the arrival of the new dean will be hectic for all of us, but I am confident that we will be able to work together so Dr. Rourke’s transition is as smooth as possible.”


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Next issue: March 4, 2004

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