Nice

By

Leonard Zwelling

         Is being nice a virtue? Nice is pleasant, agreeable and
satisfactory. Is it good to be nice?

         It depends.

         Human endeavors often consist of adversarial relationships
that are not intrinsically bad or good. Athletics, academics, business, and law
are all characterized by competition where there are winners and losers and
surely being “nice” will not get you in either column necessarily.

         On the other hand, being outright unpleasant is probably not
a good strategy for life either. The Maya Angelou quote about people
remembering how you make them feel comes to mind and being in-your-face
abrasive does not bode well for future productivity.

         But what about nice?

         I ask this because recently, three former chairs of the
Faculty Senate have taken it upon themselves to inject another layer of complexity into
the already Byzantine relationship matrix that is MD Anderson. Rather than
support their currently serving Senate brethren, they are promoting a faculty
petition that would be far more supportive of the administration than is the
statement the Senate sent to Austin. Why are they injecting themselves into
this and why now?

         Theory number one that has been espoused to me is that the
MD Anderson leadership asked them to do it and this is possible. At least two
of the three have major positions in the current administration
and this could be a loyalty test.

         Theory number two is that they truly do not believe that the
position taken by the Senate reflects that of the majority of the faculty rank
and file despite the fact that the senators are the elected representatives of
the faculty.

         Theory number three is that they are just nice guys and
truly believe that nice will be the way to get MD Anderson through this crisis.

         I honestly have no idea which theory is correct, if any of
them are. These three gentlemen are known to be just that—nice and usually
pretty effective leaders, but it would seem that having the local executive leadership,
the Senate, the Division Heads and the other administrative leadership all
weighing in and UT System having to sort through this would be enough sides.
Why open another front especially one whose legitimacy is bound to be
questioned given the source of the petition idea?

         Of course, if all of this is just a well-orchestrated scheme
by the MD Anderson leadership to lull the UT System into thinking everything is
hunky-dory at 1515, then that is indeed cynical and Machiavellian. It would
also be unsurprising given my own experience with the leadership that accused me
of leaking information to the press without any basis beyond paranoia. It
wasn’t true and Dr. DePinho seemed genuinely disappointed when he found out from
me that it wasn’t.

         I don’t know if nice is good.  It’s better than not nice, I guess, but I am
not sure not nice is really the antonym of nice. To me the antonym of nice is
serious and I would rather have people call me serious than nice, but then
again few call me nice anyway.

        

I
really don’t know what the various factions expect MD Anderson to look like if
they got their way. I am not really certain what “their way” is. I am quite
sure there are far too many factions trying too many maneuvers and these
various political moves are creating an ever more metastable environment.
Perhaps this is just as well. Let’s have the confrontation and/or blow up and
get the UT System folks in here to inject some order by demanding that
leadership get a grip on the place.

As
far as I can see, we are way past Zero Dark Thirty and Dr. McRaven has to do
his job. Either blame DePinho on the last guy and dump him or make a clear
statement that you approve of the current MD Anderson President’s methods and
plans and that the UT System is 100% behind him.

The
current waffling is worse than a decision would be. I can’t believe that I am
begging a Navy SEAL to act, but I am. For goodness sake, do something!

         That
would be nice.

Leonard Zwelling