VC Notes Archive Office of the Vice Chancellor
Friday, March 13, 2015

On the Horizon

Published in VC's Notes on March 13, 2015

On the Horizon:  Streamlined Leadership

I'll begin by thanking you for the responses to my first column. So far, I've received about 30 questions and comments via the website you can reach by clicking on the bottom of this page.

Some of the issues raised are large and complex, and will require significant action plans to make progress on.  I'll touch on several of these in upcoming columns, including one we all know and love:  parking.  In the meantime, thank you for your candor and concern.  This is wonderful feedback and I hope you will keep it coming.

One of the recurring themes of this column is change…how do we adapt to changing circumstances while retaining those characteristics that have made us strong and successful.  

One change I will be putting in place over the next few months is a streamlined leadership structure.

As you know, for much of the Medical Center's 60-year history in Jackson, the roles of vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the medical school have been combined.  This structure provides many advantages but as UMMC has grown larger it has produced one notable side-effect:  The Vice Chancellor has many direct reports.  Depending on how you count, there are well over 40 people who report directly to me in either my role as vice chancellor or medical dean.

How many direct reports is too many?  Management experts say the optimal “span of control” is somewhere between 5 and 12.  Forty-plus is pretty clearly too many.  With such a large amount, the number of meetings just about fills up the Vice Chancellor's schedule, leaving little time to devote to other important matters.

So we'll be taking a look at this.  Although we won't be splitting the roles of vice chancellor and medical dean, we will be bringing in some outside experts to help us look objectively at our management structure and make recommendations to help us maximize efficiency and effectiveness.  

One good thing about all this is that we are blessed to have a very experienced and talented group of senior leaders.  They do not require a lot of day-to-day oversight by the chief executive.  At the same time, though, everybody needs to be “plugged in” to the organization and to feel they have access to the Vice Chancellor when they really need it.  

As part of this general management review, we will be adding a new position to the senior management group:  an enterprise-wide chief operating officer.  For some time now we have felt we need more help coordinating and keeping track of everything that's going on in the complex world that is UMMC.

Two other significant personnel notes:  Brian Rutledge will return as chief of staff in the Vice Chancellor's office in the next few days.  Brian has been on leave for the last 15 months to work in Senator Thad Cochran's Capitol Hill office.  I'm so glad to have him back with these new experiences that will benefit us.  

Also, I wanted to provide a bit more detail on Dr. Jimmy Keeton's new part-time advisory role.  Dr. Keeton will continue to help me by working on several projects in which he has a special interest, including collaborating with outside physicians and hospitals, furthering our relationship with the Mayo Clinic, working with donors, and assisting me with our legislative relationships.  

Despite speculation to the contrary, Dr. Keeton is not yet ready to fully retire and I am happy to be able to continue to call on his expertise and wisdom to help us all achieve A Healthier Mississippi.

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