OK, I finally did it; I took my You Count survey tonight. I always knew I would, but finding the time was tough. It seems I’m so behind that even the people with pitchforks outside my office are having to take a number and wait their turn to impale me. I received so many reminder emails from the You Count people I created a special folder for them. Even the promise of pizza, an enticement to get our area’s participation up, couldn’t get me to do this sooner. But I did eventually do it, because I believe in it. I think it’s important to ask people what they think, and to listen and act upon what they say. So I know you’re busy, too, but I hope you’ll take 10 minutes to do yours. What you think matters.
Archive for February, 2008
I think it would be hard to overstate how important the affirmation we get from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) is to our mission, to our existence, to our success. More than a “seal of approval,” if an organization isn’t doing well by its students and doesn’t have its act together in preparing, documenting and planning for its SACS review, it essentially can be shut off from the resources that make a university possible. It’s a big deal, and a lot of people from all ranks at UTMB have been working hard, in preparation for what they heard today: “Great job. Excellent work, keep it up.”
If you are one of those many, many people involved in any way in the SACS process, pat yourself on the back. We owe you our thanks and a debt of gratitude. (Read message from leadership)
If you see me tomorrow and I’m walking around funny, blame it on the new boots. I’ll be packing thick socks, but for $49.99 at Academy, I don’t think one gets the finest hand-tooled footwear, lovingly custom fitted by a 5th generation boot-making artisan to one’s dimensions. I think the leather for my new boots may have come from nutria (you know, the big swamp rats), and they are made in China, which “don’t seem right.” So I’m expecting a few blisters, and I may smuggle my Crocs to work in my briefcase, just in case. But I’ll be listening to Hank Williams and Johnny Cash on the way in to work, and by golly, I’ll go Texan come Hell or high water (and with my boots I’ll be ready for either). Hope you have a great Friday.
If you read the daily announcements, you’ll see something there Thursday about celebrating “Go Texan” Day at UTMB this year, on Friday, Feb. 29.
If you like the idea—and I understand we did it years ago and it was very popular—the credit goes to Mrs. Teri Wenglein-Callender. The Callenders are Texas people, so I’m sure they’ll set a good example. I’m from Florida. We do have cowboys—but except for that stint during Urban Cowboy, people there typically don’t wear cowboy boots, Stetsons, or chaps to work. So this was new to me; I’m ashamed to admit the only boots I own are made of rubber, even after all these years in Texas. I knew I needed a little help from real Texans. I started asking for some ideas for ways to celebrate the event at UTMB. The ideas have run the gamut, from just “dressing the part” (which sounds like the route many places take), to renting a mechanical bull, hosting a BBQ contest, setting up a petting zoo, parking a steer out in the grassy knoll in front of John Sealy Hospital, getting a country western band, or hosting line dancing or costume contests.
I’m guessing I’m not going to get away with just tying a bandana around my neck. If you have any ideas about things that might be fun (and simple enough to pull together in a week) drop me a note.
A full house packed Levin Hall for today’s Town Meeting. If you missed it, a recap, the new org chart, video recaps and a bunch of other stuff are now online. (Go visit the Town Hall web site).
This might be a good time to thank a whole bunch of people who work with us to make the meetings possible, by helping with the videotaping, the webcast, the campus broadcast, the audio, and so on. If you know any of these people, give them a pat on the back (listed in no particular order): Mark Kinonen, Veronica Pleasant, Eric Sample, Eddie Hunter, Sharon Enge, David Lidstone, Raymond Reyes, Brian Berlin, Shirley Hilton, Charlie Long, Kurt Lang; Rick Preston, David Svegliato, Candy Galan, Jandee Christensen, Rosey Ruiz, Donna Batson… (and I apologize to the others I’m forgetting). It’s a pleasure to work with this group. They make something potentially complex seem routine, and they do it for our benefit.
What do I think about the changes? I’m excited about them, and like many people, probably a little anxious about the unknown. I have a great deal of respect for all the people in those boxes that are being shuffled. I know it may not be easy. But I welcome the reorg and think it’s good for UTMB; I think it will help us get to where we need to be in terms of raising the bar and making a strong go at being excellent in everything we do. As the institution prospers, so can we and those we serve.
Oh, sure, so it’s probably another holiday dreamed up by Hallmark, by those who sell chocolate and flowers. I still like it, like to watch my kids pencil their greetings onto those 3 X 5 cards with cartoon characters, scored and torn apart for careful distribution. I like to see and smell the flowers that magically appear in people’s offices,to nibble at the foil-wrapped chocolate that suddenly is everywhere. I like to do special things for the people I love, to cook a favorite meal, little reminders that today they are extra special. Whatever you love, whoever you love, I hope this day brings something special for you.
I was sitting at a traffic light in Dickinson the other night and the SUV in front of me had a bumper sticker that caught my attention. It read “UTMB Nursing Service, Magnet Recognition, 2005-2008.”
I was around to see the years of work that went into earning that recognition, but not all of us may know or remember what it means. It’s a big deal; ”Magnet Status” recognizes institutions that set the standard for excellence in nursing care. It’s hard recognition to earn; when we made the list in 2005, there were about 150 hospitals nationally that had done it. Today, the number is only up to 281. I’m proud we’re still one of them. Tell a nurse “congratulations.” She’s (and he’s) earned it. Read an archived Impact article to learn more about this accomplishment.
A day or two (or three or more) before Dr. Callender’s message about the You Count survey and the upcoming Town Hall meeting, there were questions and rumblings in the rumor mill: ”Big vision, big plans, big changes. What would those changes be, and why, and when?”
And then the campus message went out, and it said “new organizational structure” and people said “Aha!—there it is.” But what is IT? More importantly for many of us on the front line, why is it? How will it affect me? How will it make UTMB stronger and my job better? All questions to be answered at the Town Hall, and I can’t think of a better source for the information than Dr. Callender himself, next week. My sense is a lot of careful thought and past experience have gone into this issue, and I’m optimistic and excited about our future. I hope you can be in Levin Hall on Feb. 20 or catch the meeting and discussion in some other form or fashion.
I heard a concern rolled in among those mutterings and rumblings in the mill, one meriting an inquiry on our collective behalf. The answer enables me to share with you what the changes and the meeting are NOT about. I heard it emphatically from leadership: “Reorganization” is not code for a reduction in workforce, not code for layoffs, not code for carving up or casting off large groups of people. If you are losing sleep over this notion, you can nod off peacefully this evening.
And if you have questions of your own you’d like considered at the Town Hall, you can ask it online. Send them in early to get them in the queue. Good night.
As an academic health center, we at UTMB like to think we do our share to keep the grim reaper at bay—although in the end, he always has the last say. One might quip about the tax man with equal dread and disdain, a dark figure who strips us not of life’s breath, but rather, of cash…the hard-earned fruit of our toil and trouble.
Alas, here too, UTMB seeks to lend a helping hand, through the efforts of some kind volunteers and a program called “VITA.” For those of your who don’t troll the UTMB home page, a recap:
The UTMB Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site opens today and will remain open 5:30–7:30 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays through March 27 at the Moody Medical Library, second floor, Room 238. Those with an income of $50,000 or less can participate in this free service. Bring valid ID, Social Security cards and birth dates, as well as all documents necessary to file your taxes, such as wage and income statements. Bring your bank information for direct deposit. If you want to file electronically, both you and your spouse must be present to sign the forms if filing jointly. For information, contact Maggie Pinson at (409) 747-8827 or see the flyer for details.
DETOUR 1: The contractors working on the Galveston Island Causeway will get out their blasting caps again this weekend. Sunday morning at approximately 8 a.m., they’ll be taking out about 10 remaining piers (a 700 ft stretch) of the old Northbound Bridge. The bridge will close to traffic around 8 am and reopen around 9 am, possibly earlier. If you’re going fishing Sunday, the Tiki Island Marina channel is going to be closed. If you’re working and driving in from “overseas,” keep the blast and closure in mind.
DETOUR 2: The walkway in the area near the front of the Student Center and Graves is being closed this Friday, Feb. 8, at 7 am to begin preparations for new sidewalks in the area; the contractor will pour concrete back on Saturday and open the walkway/sidewalk before Monday at 7 am. Signage will mark the detour, but it’s a whopper of a reroute—if you normally walk to campus down Strand and in front of Old Red, on this Friday you’d have to go back to 11th and around the rear of Mary Moody Northen and Graves (we’ll work to get a map online Thursday). The good news is it’s a brief closure, and the weather should be nice.