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Dr. Brian Hennen stands beside a painted portrait of himself that hangs on a paneled wall.

Dr. Brian Hennen

UM mourns passing of Dr. Brian Hennen, former dean of medicine

September 1, 2021 — 

Dr. Brian Postl, dean of the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, is saddened to announce the passing of Dr. Brian Hennen, former University of Manitoba dean of medicine, on Aug. 30.

Dr. Hennen was an influential family physician and academic who made significant contributions to UM as dean of the Faculty of Medicine from 1999 to 2004.

He earned his medical degree in 1962 from Queen’s University and his master’s degree in educational psychology in 1969 from Michigan State University.

In 1969, he was one of the first 12 physicians to receive the Certification in the College of Family Physicians (CCFP) designation.

Among his many accomplishments, Dr. Hennen served as president of the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) and as chair of the board of the Canadian Council of Health Accreditation. One of his key areas of expertise and advocacy was the field of developmental disabilities.

He was professor and head of the family medicine department at Dalhousie University from 1974 to 1987, then professor and chair of family medicine at Western University from 1987 to 1999, before joining UM as dean of medicine.

During his five years as dean, UM saw a net gain of more than 100 full- and part-time faculty members in medicine.

“In 1999 the total amount of research money brought in was $45 million, and the last year I was there … the total research income reached $78 million,” Dr. Hennen recalled in the book Voices, published to mark the 125th anniversary of the Faculty of Medicine in 2008.

Dr. Hennen sat on the boards of St. Boniface Hospital and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba. Reflecting his interest in developmental disabilities, he served on the Research Committee and Foundation Board of St. Amant Centre.

He recalled about his role as dean: “Particularly fun for me were the alumni reunions, for which we established an alumni breakfast. I met with graduates of 50 years ago, and they all had a story to tell.”

He felt strongly that medical schools should be responsive to the concerns of students, residents and graduate students. “They need to have influence on their learning programs,” he said. “They need to be able to provide feedback … and it needs to be listened to.”

In 2014, Dr. Hennen received a Lifetime Achievement in Family Medicine Research Award from the CFPC. The award honours individuals who are trailblazers and leaders, and who have made a significant career contribution to family medicine research.

The Max Rady College of Medicine, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences and the entire University of Manitoba community extend condolences to Dr. Hennen’s family.


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