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Dr. John Augustine
Dr. John Augustine

John Ross Augustine

Physician, mentor, community leader

Dr. John Augustine has never let obstacles stand in his way and this tenacity has been Northwestern Ontario’s good fortune. He grew up in Kitchener, Ontario and received his Medical Doctorate, with Honours, from The University of Western Ontario in 1952. He moved to Thunder Bay in 1954 to set up a successful practice as a family physician at the Spence Clinic. In 1956 he returned to Toronto for three more years of training and in 1959 became a Certified Specialist in Internal Medicine following examination by the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC). Dr. Augustine worked as a highly respected specialist in this field until his retirement from clinical practice in 1994. He also received Internal Medicine Fellowships from the American College of Physicians in 1964 and the RCPSC in 1972, and has had articles published in The Canadian Medical Association Journal, The Lancet, and other medical reviews.

John’s abiding interest in health care led him to take on the roles of educator and activist. In his long involvement with the RCPSC he has been an oral examiner testing post-graduate Internal Medicine students from universities across Canada, and took part in the RCPSC’s Accreditation Committee which certifies post-graduate medical and surgical programs at Canadian medical schools.  He also served four years on the Executive of the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons, including a term as Vice-President (Medicine). He received a Certificate of Appreciation from McMaster University Faculty of Health Sciences for his early and continued significant role in the formation of the Northern Ontario Medical Program (NOMP) and in 2000 became a Senior Member of the Canadian Medical Association.

Putting his keen intellect to use, Dr. Augustine became involved in several landmark undertakings that have changed the face of health care education and delivery in Northwestern Ontario. He was President of McKellar's Medical Staff from 1968 to 1970 and was the Founding Chair of the Cardiac Stress, Palliative Care, and Ethics Committees at McKellar, and later participated in the Fund Raising Committee for the construction of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. John was also a founding member of the Thunder Bay branch of the Addiction Research Foundation of Ontario and worked extensively in the area of addictions treatment and prevention; he set up the first Methadone treatment outreach for addicts in the late 1980s.

In 1971, Dr. Augustine, along with many others locally and with the new Dean of Medicine at McMaster University, Dr. John Evans, developed the Northwestern Ontario Medical Program (NOMP) as its Founding Chairman. The NOMP initiative brought medical students from McMaster Medical School to Northwestern Ontario to work with local doctors and health care providers. Usually 50 or more students each year would have this opportunity, some coming from other Canadian medical schools and several from the United Kingdom and even as far as Switzerland.  John took on multiple positions within NOMP including coordinating Internal Medicine placements, acting as a Clinical Preceptor, and serving on the Admission Interview Team. As part of the NOMP arrangements, applicants to McMaster Medical School from Northwestern Ontario were given weighted preference for admission.

John's work with NOMP from 1969 to 2000 was a natural springboard to his role in the creation of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM). Concerned with the shortage of family doctors and the growing crisis this was causing, he was convinced that Northwestern Ontario needed its own medical school to sustain a viable health care system. John rallied the medical community in support of the idea of a northern medical school and in 1999 was appointed chair of Lakehead's President's committee to establish a school with campuses in Thunder Bay and Sudbury. Throughout this process as a Community Representative of the Liaison Committee and NOSM Board Member, John never wavered in his vision.

Giving to the community in a professional and volunteer capacity has been a hallmark of Dr. Augustine’s life. He has participated on countless boards and committees and been a generous patron of arts and culture. Both he and his wife Annette (who was named a Fellow of Lakehead University in 1995) are founding members and longstanding supporters of the Thunder Bay Art Gallery and the Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society. John has received many awards recognizing his outstanding public service, including a Coronation Silver Jubilee Medal. In 2005, during its 40th Anniversary year, Lakehead University honored Dr. and Mrs. Augustine for being two of its 40 Northern Lights – forty men and women who have made extraordinary contributions to the development of Lakehead University.

As NOSM's charter class graduates this spring, it is clear that Dr. Augustine’s abilities as an advocate and a strategist have enhanced the quality of health care in Northwestern Ontario. But in spite of his many achievements, he is quick to draw attention away from himself saying that: "It's been such a privilege to work with the community and to see the medical school come to fruition; so many people other than me have been involved in its success."

Dr. John Whitfield
Dr. John Whitfield

John Howard Mervyn Whitfield

Professor, administrator, community leader

Dr. John Whitfield's love of northern Ontario is deep rooted. Born in his grandparents' farmhouse in the township of Thessalon, Ontario, he grew up with a passion for nature and the outdoors. Although John had planned to study engineering, his fascination with the complexities of mathematics exerted a stronger pull. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts from Abilene Christian University in 1961, John completed a Master of Arts at Texas Christian University in 1962 followed by a Doctor of Philosophy from the Case Institute of Technology in 1966. In 1965, he joined Lakehead University as an Assistant Professor of Mathematics, beginning a 36-year association that has left an indelible mark on Lakehead.

Specializing in the study of Banach spaces and abstract convexity, Dr. John Whitfield has written a multitude of articles and reviews that have appeared in scholarly publications including Mathematical Reviews and Zentralblatt fur Mathematik. He has also presented his work at national and international conferences and received Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada operating grants for 25 years. John became an Associate Professor in 1970, achieved a full professorship in 1982, and is now a Professor Emeritus of Mathematics. His academic work teaching graduates and undergraduates was epitomized by the respect and fairness with which he treated his students and his readiness to act as a mentor.

In 1986 John became the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science followed by the position of Vice-President (Academic), a job he held from 1990 to 1997. As an early board member of the Northwestern Ontario Technology Centre, Dr. Whitfield was at the forefront of the effort to incubate and attract biotechnology businesses to Northwestern Ontario. He also helped the University through a period of transition by acting as the Interim President in 1997-1998 and finished his impressive career at Lakehead as the Vice-President of Research and Development from 1998 until his retirement in 2001.

His determination to make both Lakehead University and the community stronger is clear from John's visionary work improving the infrastructure of Northwestern Ontario's health care system. In the mid-1990s he helped facilitate the amalgamation of the McKellar and Port Arthur General Hospitals and their Foundations. As a board member of Lakehead's Northwestern Ontario Medical Program from 1993 to 2001, he was part of an initiative that brought graduate medical students from McMaster University to train at health care sites in our region.

John's advancement of regional health care included the critical role he played in the genesis of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM). He was a Co-Chair of the Lakehead-Laurentian Universities Committee to establish the medical school and since 2003 he has been on NOSM’s board. He advocated for a medical school that would be pan-northern in nature and draw upon clinical teachers throughout the region to meet Northwestern Ontario's unique health care needs.

In 2005, he was asked by the then Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, George Smitherman, to be the Founding Chair of the North West Local Health Integration Network. Upon John's retirement from this position in 2008, Minister Smitherman commented that: "Since I appointed Dr. Whitfield as Chair in 2005, he has shone as a leader and always brought a solid voice to the Northern Ontario health system." 2005 was also the year that Lakehead recognized John as one of its 40 Northern Lights. This prestigious honour recognized forty individuals who had a formative influence on Lakehead's development during its first forty years.

Dr. John Whitfield is devoted to his wife Diane and their four children - Karen, Megan, Brian, and Evan.  He has also been a dedicated volunteer whose activities have ranged from serving on the boards of the Thunder Bay Art Gallery and the Thunder Bay Community Foundation to coaching and refereeing minor league hockey. He is a man unafraid to take a stand and whose willingness to roll up his sleeves and get involved in pioneering projects has made Northwestern Ontario a better place. As John has said, "you can have all these structures, boards, and committees but it's the people who make a difference."
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Last modified May 20, 2009
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