The Chancellor Gave You the Means. Do You Have the Motivation?

The Chancellor Gave You
the Means. Do You Have the Motivation?


Leonard Zwelling

         From both the story in the Houston Chronicle on the morning
of March 20 and the one in the Cancer Letter later that day, it is apparent
that someone did not turn off his or her cell phone during the Chancellor’s
meeting with the faculty on March 18. The quotes are too long and too detailed
to have been anything but transcribed from recordings.

         If either the Chancellor’s people or those reporting back to
Dr. DePinho are angered by this, get over yourselves. It’s youtube nation folks,
in an iPhone world. All expectations of privacy end at the bathroom door and
maybe not even there.

         So what are the big take homes from the articles for those
of us who did not or could not attend the town hall with Chancellor McRaven?

1.  The Faculty Senate is now the designated
representative body of the faculty in the eyes of the leadership of the UT

2.  This essentially means that the one-box model of an
org chart at MD Anderson is over. This “President’s only” box model began in the
late stages of the Mendelsohn years when the Provost and CMO box was shrunk due
to the poor representation of faculty interests by the incumbents. The days of Hohn and Becker and Kripke and Callender were no longer. This was
compounded by the very weak Division Heads box once the previous Head of
Surgery was dismissed and the Head of Cancer Medicine was essentially an agent
of the President not a leader of the faculty.

3.  The Faculty Senate is also the chief negotiators with
whom Dr. DePinho must work to correct the culture/morale problems. They are now
the second box on the org chart for the first time in the 75 year history of MD

4.  Retaliation against faculty by the leadership will not
be tolerated.

5.  Dr. DePinho has the confidence of his boss but his
boss recognizes Dr. DePinho’s less than collegial manner of communication and
expects a change. What Dr. DePinho wants to do may not be so bad (organizing
the institution along product lines for clinical care and research). How he went
about doing it was awful!

6.  The Chancellor needs no more data to understand where
the faculty members are right now with regard to their morale.

7.  It appears that the Chancellor, unlike his predecessor
gets it. As the Cancer Letter’s headline states: “Trust Has Been Broken.”

is all good news except the part about Dr. DePinho getting another chance, but
it wasn’t Christmas last week so no gifts.

     The good news is that the path to earning
the required gift is clear and I really cannot believe that Dr. DePinho, who
was conveniently out of town for the Chancellor’s visit, can really right his
ship as the former head of the Navy SEALS has commanded he do. MD Anderson is
far more the USS Caine than the USS Missouri.

     It is now the obligation of the Faculty
Senate to identify instances of retaliation, bad behavior and abuse of power by
the 5 executive leaders of MD Anderson and report them to the Chancellor via
his private email, which he gave out on Wednesday. And I am not kidding.

     The key to change is two-fold. First, get
the first guy out, not only because he is abusive, but also because his
philosophy of commercialization above all else is antithetical to the values of
MD Anderson. Second, make damned sure the next guy or gal has a traditional
view of the mission of an academic cancer center and leaves his entrepreneurial
genes in his jeans at his current home—which is preferably not in Boston.

     The Faculty Senate has been designated as
the voice of the faculty with regard to the executive leadership at Anderson
and the Regental leadership in Austin. The Senate holds the key to change.

     The trouble always starts when you get what
you want! 

2 thoughts on “The Chancellor Gave You the Means. Do You Have the Motivation?”

  1. Only in the sense that the tenure issue is not the point. It is the abuse of power. Your report is a bit lengthy but gets to this quite well, so you got it right. I just wish the media would understand the issue is the very system that MD Anderson has had in place for 75 years was always open to this abuse because there was no real oversight. Mendelsohn and DePInho were just the first to exploit it in a manner that brought commercialization to center stage and faculty rights to the showers. In effect, the money made them do it. LZ

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