As I've said many times in this space, our people are what set UMMC apart. Coincidentally, this month has brought notable transitions and milestones for three “People of the U” who have helped make this place what it is.
Dr. Jimmy Keeton, my friend, mentor and predecessor as vice chancellor and dean of medicine, officially retired from UMMC on Jan. 31. We actually came into administrative roles at about the same time - in the early 2000s - so I have had the pleasure and benefit of working with him for virtually my entire career in UMMC leadership.
Jimmy will be remembered for many things, including being the driving force behind a new School of Medicine building, which we will occupy in a few months. He also led us through the installation of an electronic health record and resurrected our liver transplant and congenital heart programs. His steadfast commitment to diversity, health equity and the elimination of health disparities continues to be inspiring.
Since he stepped down as vice chancellor in 2015, Jimmy has continued to be helpful in the fundraising effort for Children's of Mississippi, another cause dear to his heart. As a retiree, he has been awarded emeritus status and I'm sure will continue to be involved in volunteer activities for some time to come.
Ivory Bogan, executive director of physical facilities, celebrated his 45th service anniversary a couple of weeks ago and thank goodness he is not retiring. There are a handful of other UMMC employees with at least 45 years of service, but regardless of longevity, no one at the Medical Center is more relied upon to keep the lights on, the buildings cool (or warm), the water running and the grounds looking sharp than Ivory and his team of 200, all of whom he seems to know by name.
Ivory is a “yes man” in the very best sense of the term. No matter how big or how small the request, he finds a way to accommodate. When Ivory says, “I'll take care of it,” you can take it to the bank. He and his team preside over a physical plant and all its support systems that is around 4 million square feet and counting.
Ivory actually started working at UMMC when he was 17 years old as a “Helper” in the maintenance department. (Yes, that was actually a job title in those days). His tenure was interrupted by military service, but he returned to the Medical Center at the age of 21 and hasn't looked back. He's held his current position for 10 years. I can say with complete confidence that LouAnn Woodward and the four vice chancellors who preceded me slept a lot sounder at night knowing that Ivory Bogan was on the job.
Michael Estes has only been here eight years, but he has made a large impact. Our chief human resources officer, Michael will retire from UMMC at the end of this month.
When he arrived at the Medical Center, we had some good people in Human Resources, but we lacked consistent leadership. In a thoughtful and methodical way, he elevated our HR program to a higher standard of performance.
Foremost among his and his team's achievements is the implementation of an HR Business Partner/HR Service Partner model that leveraged our limited resources across an expanding workforce. His team is providing more service for more people with fewer HR employees than when he arrived in 2009.
Among other accomplishments are the creation of an International Affairs Office, an HR Service Center, and a Talent Acquisition unit. Michael's division helped consolidate three separate payroll systems into one biweekly payroll and oversaw the HR aspects of the integration of University Physicians and UMMC Grenada into our organization.
I also see Michael as a servant leader who treats people the way he would like to be treated. He is willing to make tough decisions and is usually the first person to remind me of “the right thing to do” in a sensitive situation, even though it may be the most difficult thing to do. CEOs need advisors like that.
In thinking about Michael's successor, we have repositioned the role somewhat, as a Chief Human Capital Officer, which we are recruiting for now. The new title shifts the emphasis from a resource that is used to an asset that is grown. Accordingly, we will look for this new leader to take UMMC to a higher level in the personal and professional development of our employees, among other priorities.
These three people have helped set UMMC apart and have served all of us as role models. I thank them for their distinguished service and for their day-in and day-out commitment to A Healthier Mississippi.