At Least My Blog Might Help

By

Leonard Zwelling

            Dr.
Bogler is not happy with me. It seems that my writing about the recent spate of
Presidential reversals of unanimous PTC decisions to renew tenure struck him as
unfair and inaccurate. He may well be correct. I do not have access to the
history of this process as he does, but I have been made aware of at least 3
such instances of late. That sounded like a lot to me.  He says this is nothing out of the
ordinary, which in and of itself is concerning for if faculty peers unanimously believe a
colleague qualifies for tenure renewal it is hard to imagine what the President
can find wanting, but alas, according to Dr. Bogler this has happened for quite
some time.

            He
requested my help in getting out the word on this. I offered space on the blog
for him to write an unexpurgated piece on the process and the data as he sees
fit and I suspect we will all see that shortly. Of course, the irony cannot be
lost on anyone that the very person who conveyed the news about my own non-renewal
of tenure (not the Provost who I had previously appointed as a vice chair of
the IRB or the division head who I have known and served for years, even when I
was a VP) now wanted “my help” in getting the correct story out.

            What
I believe is getting lost in all of this is not a matter of data or whether or
not previous Presidents have seen fit to reverse affirmative decisions by the
PTC. What is so striking is that everyone seems to believe this is a deviation
from the norm. When it comes to actions by this administration, the faculty and
staff are more than willing to believe the worst, whether true or not.

            This
stems from two issues. The first is that the leadership has seemed to have tin
ears when it comes to the complaints of the faculty as exemplified by the
faculty morale survey. Repeated bad behavior on the part of some members of the
leadership team have left the faculty and staff breathless with anticipation.
What are they going to try next? From pushing their own stock, to forcing
appointments through the PTC, to huge packages for basic scientists coupled
with the lack of merit pay for clinicians, to general contempt for the faculty
expressed by more than a few of the President’s men (and women), the trust gap
is so huge you could drive a furniture truck through it. And it seemed that’s
exactly what happened on the way to spiffing up the South Campus headquarters
of IACS.

            The
second problem is that the leadership seems so single-mindedly focused on
money—the institution’s and their own—that the actual mission of the place has
been lost. American medicine, academic medicine in particular and all medicine
in Houston, Texas are in major states of flux and yet we still have heard no
plans as to how MD Anderson will restrategize or reposition to prosper other
than the non-credible idea that we will develop drugs for cancer with knowledge
that neither the pharmaceutical industry nor the rest of academia knows. Of
course, we haven’t been told what it is either, but “trust us” say the leaders.

            Why?

            Dr.
Bogler may be quite correct in stating that the current distribution of
overturned PTC decisions is not at variance with that of past years. What his
protests to me lack is the sensitivity that the faculty and staff are more than
willing to believe the worst of the President and his team.

            If
Dr. Bogler and/or his buddies really want my help, the blog is available to him
and to them to use as a means of communication. It seems that the routes they
have used to date are not helping at all. I am happy to give anyone 800 words
unedited by me. I suggest, however, that unlike the great majority of townhall
meetings and other modes of communication used by the leadership, that prior to
sending me anything they consider whether or not they really have anything they
are willing to say about what they are doing and whether or not, at this point,
it will be heard or believed.

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