Friday, December 11, 2015

Welcoming New Chancellor

Published in VC's Notes on December 11, 2015

Welcoming Our New Chancellor

Good afternoon!

Yesterday we had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Jeffrey Vitter for a day-long visit to campus.

Dr. Vitter will become chancellor of the University of Mississippi January 1. As it turns out, his first official duty will be to attend the Sugar Bowl in his native New Orleans. Not bad for a first day on the job! Â

When he last visited, during the chancellor search process, we were mostly learning about Jeff Vitter. Yesterday was his opportunity to learn about us. Â

Vitter_Woodward_tourDuring a whirlwind tour, he saw helicopters, preemies, MedCom, research labs, shock-trauma rooms, construction sites, and the brightly-painted murals of the Children's Cancer Clinic. Â

He met with deans and senior leaders, and had lunch with a large contingent of students and residents, who never cease to amaze me with their enthusiasm and smarts.

At the end of a long day, Dr. Vitter said he was impressed not only with the scope of things we are involved in, but that we have such a direct impact on people's lives. He took note of our history of leadership in surgery and cardiovascular research. He said he was most touched by his visit to the Children's Hospital and our tiniest patients in the NICU.

The number one message he brought to us is his interest in the development of a closer relationship between the UM campus in Oxford and the UMMC campus in Jackson.

His reasoning? More collaboration will create benefits in their own right. But in terms of national stature, the more Ole Miss and the Medical Center are perceived as working together toward mutual goals, the more likely that we will be counted in the top tier of research-intensive universities.

I think that's an admirable goal, and we've already laid a solid foundation for further development. A few examples:

  • Working with our colleagues at Ole Miss, we've established a bi-campus Research Day to highlight research achievement on both campuses. The first event was held in Oxford; the next one will be here.

  • Spearheaded by our Cancer Institute, we now have well-developed ties to UM's National Center for Natural Products Research, as we jointly explore natural agents that have anti-cancer properties.
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  • With UM, we have begun joint reporting of our education data to IPEDS (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System), the nation's primary source of information on U.S. colleges and universities.

Ultimately, Dr. Vitter hopes to use the UM strategic planning process to drive further collaboration. By next fall, he wants the faculty to develop some big picture research themes that will span the two campuses and take advantage of natural areas of synergy. In that way, the strategic plan can serve as a unifier, leveraging our combined strengths to provide competitive advantage.

Our new chancellor has a vision of greater collaboration. It's a vision we believe will serve to advance the ongoing efforts of both campuses.Â

Of course, there are barriers to collaboration. Distance, different campus cultures, and disparate business policies and processes come to mind. But most of these barriers can be overcome, if we put our minds to it.

We've already started down this road of increased collaboration with the Oxford campus several years ago. Taking fuller advantage of all the potential it conveys will not only benefit us, it will benefit those we serve, on our mission to achieve A Healthier Mississippi.





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