Self, Mommy


Leonard Zwelling

my kids were little, they, like all children, were wholly dependent upon my
wife and I for their every need. Then, at some point, they began to express a
small degree of self-sufficiency. It could be in feeding themselves or walking
alone or even the use of the bathroom, but somewhere along the line children
begin the process of breaking free of their parents to become self-sufficient
adults and often they do so with the same phrase.

up at their mother, they will pull away their hands to do something on their
own and say, “Self, Mommy”.

process of individualization has begun along with the development of a whole
adult in the seemingly distant, but fast-closing future. There will be many
failures to come. Lots of falling of food on the floor and children bumping to
the ground, but they will get up and try again. It’s not about the success.
It’s about the trying.

Cancer Letter’s edition of September 6 discusses the ensuing visit of the
Chancellor and past and soon-to-be Vice Chancellors to the MD Anderson campus
on September 18. The ink spilled by the Cancer Letter and the additional notice
from Karen Fukawa and the Faculty Senate suggest that the second lousy faculty
morale survey results will in some way force the Chancellor to do something.
Nothing could be further from the truth.

I have written before, the results of the original poor morale survey have yet
to be addressed by the administration with either a clear pathway to
understanding the basis of the problem or a plan to deal with it. Why then,
would anyone expect a repeat survey to give a different result? Frankly, why
bother with another survey? The tire is still flat and no one has inspected it for
nails so why bother trying to take the air pressure again?

underlying gist of the reports about the September 18 visit is that this will
be some kind of “come to Jesus moment” for Dr. DePinho and under the hard
scrutiny of the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor, the faculty’s pleas for redemption
will somehow be answered by the duo or trio from Austin. Why would anyone
imagine this to be the case?

managerial shortcomings, grandiose pronouncements and ethical lapses have all
been widely disseminated. If the UT System were going to do something, it
already would have. Does the Senate think it will say something to sway the
leadership of the UT System educational operation to make a change? Not likely.
Either DePinho will need to be indicted or he will have to screw up even more
than he already has (hard to believe?) for the Chancellor to do anything.

their dependence upon the powers in Austin to correct the problem in Houston,
the MD Anderson faculty is acting like a group of toddlers looking for someone
else to fix its problems. They need a little bit of “self, Mommy”.

message is and continues to be, fix it yourselves. Or as the Sean Connery
character said in Brian DePalma’s film The Untouchables, “what are you prepared
to do Mr. Ness?”

is no place for the meek or dependent. If the faculty’s morale is down and the
faculty at-large wants things to change—change them. Don’t wait for a savior
because none is coming. And if the belief of the Senate that we are at a crisis
point as reflected by the two morale surveys, is not an accurate reflection of
the feelings of most faculty members, that too should come out.

evidence to date suggests deep and protracted dissatisfaction on the faculty’s
part with their leadership. As always, the faculty didn’t choose these guys
(and it is all guys). That this should degenerate to yet another meeting with
the Austin crowd is laughable. When is the Senate going to lead the faculty
that putatively elected it for it’s the only representative government we’ve
got. Unfortunately, like their counterparts in Washington, this Faculty Senate
lacks both leadership and backbone.

toddler may not understand the full ramifications of “self, Mommy” until it all
goes wrong and the milk spills. But the Senate knows full well what the risks
of definitive action to stop this reckless and costly abuse of local power
could be. In the calculus that determines the Senate’s actions, it is clear
that the risks of action still outweigh the benefits and thus the Senate’s idea
of service to its constituency is to call those in Austin who have yet to
indicate their understanding of the situation on the ground at Anderson for
another audience.

if I ran this zoo, I would have started with a private meeting in Austin
between the Senate leadership and the Chancellor and new Vice Chancellor to
assess the UT System’s understanding of the list of perceived wrongs and their
interest in addressing them in public which is likely to be zero.

predict the three from Austin will see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil
at least at some meeting in the Hickey They will listen and may even ask for
advice, but if a solution is what the Senate is looking for, head for a mirror
and act accordingly. It’s SELF, MOMMY time!

AND ON ANOTHER NOTE: Please see story on re: IOM report on cancer care in America vis a vis the last blog entry on Cancer Medicine 2013.

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