Building Bridges to Chapel HillAs founding editor-in-chief of both Hospital Quarterly and HealthcarePapers, Dr. Peggy Leatt has established within their covers a fine balance of academic rigor and practical value. We find that this is, in fact, a reflection of the person. The editorial boards and our staff are inspired by this as we are by her passionate interest in healthcare and in life-long learning. So you can imagine how delighted we are that her move to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will allow her to continue our extraordinary working relationship and so add extra dimension to the resources and networks she brings to these publications. Peggy will provide an excellent bridge for academics, for managers, for researchers, for authors and, yes, for publishers.
Transitions are a good time for a retrospective and so we asked Duncan Sinclair to tell us what makes Peggy so special. You will find his notes below.
I can only add that we are delighted that we now have an opportunity to help build the bridge to Chapel Hill and all the new resources that this renowned organization brings to our readers.
- Anton Hart
The news that Peggy Leatt is leaving Canada with her husband and colleague George Pink for new challenges in North Carolina brought first to mind an old song's opening lines:
From this [country] they say you are leavin'
We will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile ...
We will also miss the quiet but inspired leadership Peggy Leatt has given Canadian health services research, health policy and health administration throughout her distinguished career. The only consolation to her leaving is that modern communications are making the world ever smaller. She will still be close at hand in Chapel Hill where, despite the enormous challenges and opportunities of studies of health and healthcare in the United States, her lifelong commitment to how things are and ought to be done in Canada will continue to claim a share of her time and apparently boundless energy.
First, a brief biography.
Born and raised on the Yorkshire dales, Peggy Leatt took her undergraduate degree in Nursing Science, a Masters in Health Services Administration, and a PhD in Sociology, all from the University of Alberta. She was recruited to the Department of Health Administration of the University of Toronto in 1980. There she quickly established herself as an imaginative, productive and well-funded researcher, award-winning educator, innovative leader, prolific author, keen editor, and tireless champion of evidence-based policy and decision-making in health. She became a generous contributor to the life and work of her discipline, university and its affiliated hospitals and a sought-after collaborator with a multitude of friends and colleagues far and wide.
First Director of the MSc and PhD and then MHSc (Health Administration) Programs, Dr. Leatt was appointed Associate Chair of the Department in 1983, full Professor in 1984, and Chair in 1988, a position she held for 10 years. Under her leadership the enrolment of Masters and Doctoral students doubled; the professional Masters program welcomed part-time students (meeting contemporary needs) and was twice accredited for the maximum allowable terms; and research funding grew to over $5 million/year. She was also responsible for setting in motion the necessary steps to accord the department Graduate Department status in the University. As a result of these initiatives the department was able to broaden its mandate. Throughout, Dr. Leatt continued to teach and to propose and conduct innovative research that always attracted both generous funding and enthusiastic collaborators from among the providers of health services, academia and governments alike.
An articulate speaker and elegant writer, Peggy Leatt also possesses a subtle wit and humour that lie close beneath the surface of a very long list of presentations and publications that record her enormous contributions to the world's store of new knowledge about health services research, health policy and health administration. She was the first woman and the first Canadian to chair both the Association of University Programs in Health Administration (1987/8) and the Accrediting Commission for Education in Health Services Administration (1993/4). She was the first North American editor of the Health Services Management Research Journal. She is the founding editor of Hospital Quarterly and HealthcarePapers, both high-quality Canadian publications dedicated to the dissemination of best practices, innovation and strategic thinking in health services management and policy.
Immediately on stepping down as Chair of the Department in 1998,
Dr. Leatt was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Health
Services Restructuring Commission, succeeding its founding CEO,
Mark Rochon. This arm's-length body, created in 1996, was charged
by the Government of Ontario with restructuring the province's
public hospitals and providing advice on strategies to foster the
creation of a genuine health services system. By the time the
Commission reached its "sunset" in 2000, Dr. Leatt had supervised
the research, synthesis and publication of reports on:
- Building a Community Mental Health System in Ontario (February
- Better Hospitals, Better Health Care for the Future (April
- From Here to Where? … Defining the Next Steps in Health
System Reform (May 1999)
- Ontario Health Information Management Action Plan: The Top
Priority for Building a Better Health System (June 1999)
- Implementing Integrated Health Systems in Ontario: A Review of
Legislative/Regulatory Implications (July 1999)
- Reforming Ontario's Health System: Key Considerations (August
- Advice on Rural and Northern Hospital Networks (November
- Primary Health Care Strategy (December 1999)
- A Strategy for Improving Health System Performance (March
- Integrated Health Systems Cases (December 2000). (Independent of the Commission, she and George Pink have together contributed seminal work on how the concept of integrated health systems would work in Canada.)
Returning to the University of Toronto, Dr. Leatt was appointed in 2001 the first Liberty Health Chair of Health Management Strategies. Effective July 2002, she will become Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Administration, School of Public Health of the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill.
So much for the facts. They describe the career of an exemplary
scholar/educator/leader, but they do not do justice to Peggy Leatt.
Nothing in her curriculum vitae captures characteristics and
accomplishments like the following:
- "For me, it is Peggy's poise and patience that comes through
time and time again. Her tolerance and humanitarianism shine
- "Peggy is not only dedicated but passionate about health
administration education and lifelong learning."
- "Single-handedly she turned our department around."
- "She is a risk taker [who] never passes up an opportunity to
try out new ideas. She is always ahead of the crowd."
- "She was well ahead of the times in recognizing that healthcare
occurs not only in large institutions but extensively in community
organizations, [and] incorporated individuals from these
organizations in the [department's educational]
- "Peggy has the ability to create relationships that promote the
extension of research into practice. Her approach to research has
influenced … decisions that in turn have changed the health
system for the better."
- "Under Peggy's leadership the health administration program at
the University of Toronto became one of the pre-eminent programs in
- "Peggy's credibility and style was a magnet in attracting
outstanding faculty and bright students."
- "In 1980 Peggy looked younger than many of the students and
there were some who questioned her apparent youth and inexperience
in the leadership role she was assuming. We were soon to learn that
her youthful appearance, good looks, and mild manner were only a
façade. Underneath that innocence was a mind like a steel trap, a
sharp sense of humour, and an undeniable determination and drive
for success. By the end of that year Peggy had established herself
… as an academic and researcher with credibility, a caring
teacher, and a wonderful person."
- "She has always had a quiet dignity about her that seemed to
take moments of great fun and add to them a learning aspect that
turned them into something even greater …"
- "She is above all a great teacher and always has
- "Another of her great strengths is in relationship building.
She has always been able to strike mutually beneficial
relationships to advance the matter under discussion."
- "Even as a new graduate she had the ability to take what she
had just learned and translate it into something else that was
- "Peggy cultivates ideas, concepts, words and people as she does her garden - wonderfully well!"
Culled from notes from a small sample of former students and
colleagues, these comments reflect the admiration and love we, her
friends, have for Peggy Leatt, a remarkable woman. We are sad she
is leavin' and will miss her sorely!
- Duncan G. Sinclair and correspondents
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