The University of Texas Medical School at Houston The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
September 12, 2008 | from the Office of Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo

Distributed on Fridays via e-mail to all Medical School employees, students, residents, and postdoctoral fellows, UT 2 Me is Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo's weekly update of news and items of interest. He also welcomes feedback through this two-way communication.

This week I am pleased to share the letter of a guest writer to UT 2 Me, Dr. Jeffrey Actor. UT 2 Me is the voice of the Medical School, and I encourage anyone who wants to pen a guest column to do so. Also, feel free to submit your suggestions for future topics of this newsletter.


An Open Letter from the Outgoing Faculty Senate Chair:

A year ago, I embarked on a journey and was entrusted with representing the faculty by leading the Senate and promoting faculty involvement in the development of academic pursuit. The duties included presenting faculty needs to the administration and serving as a conduit for exchange of information both groups. As the year draws to a close, and we turn the reigns over to a new Senate chair, I offer to share my thoughts on the successes and challenges faced over the past 12 months.

They say that it is better sometimes to be in the right place at the right time. As luck would have it, the Medical School was presented a year ago with a new dean, Dr. Colasurdo, who immediately embraced the idea of open lines of communication between faculty and the administration. He made it clear from the start that the faculty would have input into policy making, a quest which some would consider the “Holy Grail” of Senate bodies. He empowered the Senate to pursue projects that would increase cooperation and involvement with the Medical School and University administration in policy creation and review, and in facilitating increased communications between faculty and departmental chairs toward defining commitments, responsibilities, and goals.

Practically overnight, a litany of complaints became an opportunity to develop policies to actively promote change. If I had to summarize the past year’s accomplishments, I would have to use the words “Engaged Communications.”

The Senators appreciated the opportunity to interact with multiple administrative groups, especially those that promoted faculty involvement in development of policies and procedures. I would like to highlight a few of the more challenging concerns that were addressed. Foremost, the Senate provided input into generation of the Faculty Satisfaction survey and recommendations for increased faculty retention. Toward that goal, full support was given for implementation of the Health and Well Being program.  The Senate also led an evaluation of the Compensation Plan and monitored its implementation; this is an ongoing process that continues to undergo evolution to fit our diverse faculty. We discussed the role of Relative Value Units as a structure to provide distribution of State funds based on departmental teaching activities. Although not perfect, it is encouraging to see the flexibility within our leadership to adapt and refocus when issues require re-evaluation. And the Senate provided strong input into evaluation of commercial interests in the Medical School, with healthy discussions providing input into a policy created to safeguard interactions with representatives of pharmaceutical or medical device manufacturers.

Over the past year the Senate received presentations regarding numerous additional issues. We heard about progress in the Communications Office, and the challenges to meet changing policies relative to Information Technology. The Office of Development defined their goals and explained how we could assist with philanthropic efforts. The Senate provided support for creation of a UT-Academy of Educators. We engaged discussion with financial administrators regarding changes to benefits and fringe tier costs. We heard about the challenges of the SACS accreditation process, listened to developments in achieving goals of the post-doctoral forum, and gave support to policies regarding the promotion of mid-level providers.

In particular, two sessions stand out as critical to the future of our organization. The first was an open presentation concerning the evolving relationship between the Memorial Hospital System and the UT Medical School faculty. We thank Juanita Romans, chief executive officer of Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, for her open dialog and honest discussion of the positive changes taking place. Indeed, the added value of the two organizations working with mutual respect will advance both our institutions’ goals throughout the greater Houston community.

The second session of particular mention was a presentation by Dr. Larry Kaiser, who recently took the helm as president of the Health Science Center. Dr. Kaiser shared his developing vision for the greater Health Science Center, realizing that the Medical School is a force of excellence to be recognized throughout Houston and throughout the greater state of Texas. The Medical School is indeed a partner with all the associated schools, in which we must all work as a collaborative group to assist in meeting the challenges of the future and promoting our leadership as an institution of quality and distinction.

The Medical School is poised to meet the future with success. A year has passed, and I am confident that Dr. James McCarthy will lead the Faculty Senate in the coming year with distinction. Indeed, he will thrive under Dr. Colasurdo’s leadership, and continue to grow the Senate into a body that cares about how we accomplish our three-legged goals of education, research, and clinical care.

Finally, and I hope I speak for the entire Senate body, we would like to openly thank Dr. Colasurdo for his leadership during his first year. He has enabled us to achieve, and welcomed faculty, administration, students, and staff members to all participate as strong and meaningful building blocks of this institution. Together, we can overcome challenges and share in success as we work toward making this institution one of true excellence.

With much respect, and personal thanks to all our faculty Senators for their hard work and dedication,

Jeffrey K. Actor, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Medical School Faculty Senate Chair, 2007-2008


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