VC Notes Archive Office of the Vice Chancellor
Friday, October 7, 2016

Our Engine, Our Faculty

Good morning!

I want to start today by sharing three recent examples of faculty achievement from each of our mission areas:

  • Dr. Andrew Grady, director of the Center for Comparative Research, has been tabbed to head AAALAC International, the organization committed to promoting the highest, most humane treatment standards for research animals. Our lead veterinarian and the head of our own AAALAC-accredited program, Dr. Grady has served on a number of the group's committees over the years, quietly gaining the trust and confidence of his peers.
  • A multidisciplinary team of UMMC faculty, led by Dr. Rob Rockhold, deputy chief academic officer, is partnering with Mississippi high school science teachers to develop “flipped classroom” learning modules in health literacy, focusing on obesity and nutrition. The group's education research project has garnered $1.5 million in National Institutes of Health funding through its SEPA (Science Education Partnership Award) program. A few of Rob's collaborators include Drs. Caroline Compretta, Donna Sullivan, Juanyce Taylor, Terry Pollard and Erin Dehon.

  • Our liver transplant program, headed by Drs. Chris Anderson, Mark Earl, Brian Borg, James Wynn and Thomas Amankonah, and which had been dormant for more than 20 years, last week completed its 100th transplant since the program was revived in 2013.

VC_notes_fall_fac_16You may have heard me say that the faculty are the engine that runs the Medical Center, and these are but three of many examples that demonstrate what I mean by that phrase. Day in and day out, faculty are teaching our students, designing and carrying out experiments and research protocols, treating our patients, and serving on working groups at and beyond UMMC. More than that, though, they are doing the building, the innovating and the leading that is changing the future health status of our state's citizens.

Which brings me to my purpose today: I want to hear from you, our faculty. I hope all of you will participate in the 2016 Faculty Forward Engagement Survey, which will be distributed to your email inboxes next Tuesday, Oct. 11. 

This survey, which measures faculty attitudes toward their workplace experiences, is your chance to sound off about what you like, don't like or think could be improved at UMMC. Originally developed by the Association of American Medical Colleges for medical faculty, the survey has been expanded in recent years to encompass all health professions faculty. Our entire faculty had the opportunity to participate in February 2015.

Unlike the Employee Engagement Survey, which was administered last summer with results to be reported later this fall, this instrument is specifically tailored to the faculty experience. 

Why should you participate? Your opinions about your workplace experience matter to me, and we use the data collected in the survey to drive needed change.  In recent years, some of those changes have included improvements to the promotion-tenure process, broader faculty involvement in planning and priority-setting, and better communication from the vice chancellor's office, to name a few. The survey also shows us how we measure up against national benchmarks, pointing to areas where we compare favorably and others where we fall short.

So that we are best prepared to reap the full benefit of participating in this initiative, an institutional task force will be formed for fact-finding and development of recommendations based on the survey findings.

In the most recent survey, nearly 78 percent of our medical school faculty participated and 65 percent of our nursing, pharmacy, dentistry, health-related professions and academic information services faculty took part. I would love to top those rates this time around. 

Completing the survey does require an investment of your time - about 20 minutes. However, the actionable information we receive can result in changes that may endure the rest of your career at UMMC.

Many thanks to Dr. Patrick Smith and Johnson George in the Office of Faculty Affairs for managing this important project.

I know that you encounter many challenges in pursuing your work every day. Whether it's the burned-out classroom projector bulb or having to haggle with an insurance carrier over prior authorization or the innumerable hoops that have to be jumped through to conduct research, there are a hundred-and-one things that detract from your satisfaction. I can't fix every issue, but then again, I can't even try if I don't know what they are. 

I'm dedicated to doing all I can to make it easier for you to follow your passion. Your heartfelt commitment is the engine that is helping us reach A Healthier Mississippi.

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