Chapter 02: Establishing a New Department of Faculty Development

Title

Chapter 02: Establishing a New Department of Faculty Development

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Description

Ms. Yadiny sketches how she came to MD Anderson in 1999 to establish a new Department of Faculty Development at a time when there was little research and literature on this new area. She mentions MD Anderson's reputation in the eighties as the "terminal hospital," where patients came to die, a feeling that persisted into the nineties. She sketches the history of unsuccessful leadership development offerings at the institution.

Identifier

YadinyJA_01_20160222_C02

Publication Date

2-22-2016

Publisher

The Making Cancer History® Voices Oral History Collection, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

City

Houston, Texas

Topics Covered

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center - Building the Institution; MD Anderson History; Building/Transforming the Institution; Institutional Politics; Controversy; Leadership; Joining MD Anderson

Disciplines

History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Oncology | Oral History

Transcript

So when I moved down here, the reason I got this job was, I’ll tell you Tacey, it was chutzpah. I had been the assistant director over at the Jones Library, the Houston Academy of Medicine, Texas Medical Center Library, and we had a board of directors, and on that board of directors was Robin Sandefur, who worked here. He was a representative for MD Anderson, and I got to be friendly with Rob Sandefur and I knew his wife, and then I moved up to Michigan and I hadn’t talked to him for years and suddenly, I got a phone call from him about eight years into my Michigan experience and he said, “Well, what are you doing, how are you doing?” I told him what I was up to and I was looking for a new challenge. He didn’t have anything, but a year later, this Faculty Development thing was dropped in his lap. He was associate vice president for Biomedical Communications, it was called, and he hadn’t a clue how to do and so he called me and he said, “Would you know how to do this? I’d like to bring you down as a consultant.” I said well I do—I’ve had training in consulting and I’m working with a number of faculty here, in their departments, on how to set up their administrative structure, so yeah, I’ll come down. I did a little reading. There wasn’t much out there on faculty development at that time, because it mainly was, faculty development was considered teaching, faculty teaching skills.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Oh, interesting, okay.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Yeah. It really didn’t have much to do with career development.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Yeah, and this was in 1999, so there’s still not a lot. One would think that there would have been a lot by then but no.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

There was hardly anything.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Amazing.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Yeah. There were a few things that I found. I did my research and I found some good people. He brought me down and I consulted and I didn’t have anything to lose, so I met with Steve Tomasovic [oral history interview] and I met with some other people and they asked me, well what would you do, and I said well, here’s what I would do, I had some ideas, and so they offered me this job. Now I had, at that point my daughter was 13 and I was a single parent, and my parents, my father had just died and my mother was living in Toronto, which was easy for us to get back and forth to. I went to my mother and said, “They have offered me a job for $30,000 more than I make now, $30,000,” and she said—my mother was in her late eighties, she said, “You have to take this,” and I said, “But mom, if I take it, it means I’m going to be in Texas, that’s far away from you.” She said you need to take it. You have to bring up Zoe and you have to put her through college, you know we’ll figure it out. It was very brave of her to do that. So I came down here and I just made it up as I went, and the first thing I did, because I’d had a year-long of training as a consultant, the first thing I did was spent six months going and listening to people and talking to people and writing down notes.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Now, just let me—I’d like to be a little bit more of an insider into your thought process. This was kind of your first real encounter with MD Anderson thinking about itself in a growth mode, you know we want to put in this new area of activity. What impressed you? I mean obviously the money was really nice, but I’m sure that wasn’t the only reason.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

No, it wasn’t.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

So, I mean, being a person who wants complexity in her life, yeah. So, you’re intrigued by the complexity that this is offering. What were you seeing, I mean what was the environment like that was appealing, what were the challenges of the job? Tell me about what you were looking at, that terra incognita.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Well, when they brought me down for the interview, I had lunch with Margaret Kripke [oral history interview] and Steve Tomasovic, and in that lunch I realized, I wasn’t afraid of them. I felt like they were colleagues, I felt a comfort that they were curious and they were open, and they didn’t have the answers, they had ideas. I just felt like these are really interesting people that I can work with, and that appealed to me enormously. I had only known MD Anderson from across the street in the ‘80s, when we considered it. It was called the terminal hospital, right? You went if you were terminally ill and you were lucky if they saved your life, but it wasn’t the MD Anderson that I encountered when I came for an interview. At that point, there were 8,000 people working here and everybody was saying it’s too big. It’s too big, it’s too complex, and the faculty were complaining that they didn’t know each other anymore. So, I could see it was a flex point for the institution. I was told that Dr. Mendelsohn [oral history interview] and Leon Leach [oral history interview] had very ambitious plans for growth, that many new buildings were going to be put in, and nobody had ever done this program before, so it was, you know, virgin territory really.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

What did they want, I mean what were they hoping would happen from it?

Janis Apted Yadiny:

They didn’t know. Andy von Eschenbach had been at a conference when he was—what was he, a vice president, I guess. He’s been at a conference where people were talking about faculty development, and so he came back and he said we need a faculty development program. And Margaret had just done ELAM, the program for women in leadership and academic medicine, so she had an idea, this is interesting stuff, we should be really be doing faculty development, career development, leadership development. So she had a bit of an inkling of what that would look like. Most of the others didn’t, although they had been to workshops since. So Steve and Margaret have participated in the Rice University Leadership Development program that we did in 1994, 1995, and that was a program that was designed for both faculty leaders and high level administrative leaders, brought them together, and actually I think it went pretty well, but then they hit the managed care crisis in 1995, ’96, when Mendelsohn came, and they withdrew the money, they didn’t continue the program.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

And this is MD Anderson.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

MD Anderson.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Right. Rice still had the program.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Well, Rice, they were sort of a collaborative program that Randy White, a consultant that MD Anderson was using, used Rice facilities, and I think some of the Rice business professors, but it wasn’t really a Rice owned program, it was a collaborative thing. So it ran, I think it only—I don’t know how many cohorts it even ran, maybe just one, a single cohort through, but the ones who went really got a lot out of it and really enjoyed it. So then in 1998, just before I arrived, they launched another program, this came out of HR and it was called Excellence in Leadership, and it was run by UT Austin Business School, so it featured business school professors. I came just as it was starting and asked if I could go through it and they said sure. All of the programs were held at the Houstonian and they were two days a month, and they had very flashy materials and binders and PR stuff and all that, and for each day, each day long program, a professor would come in and lecture. There was very little interactivity, there was very little discussion, really, and there were a lot of references to my research at Ford, my research at Nike, you know, my research for Microsoft, that kind of thing. So the faculty voted with their feet and left in droves, and so it was considered a massive failure and it was expensive too. I think it was over $1 million to put that program together.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Wow.

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Chapter 02: Establishing a New Department of Faculty Development

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