Chapter 04: Faculty Development in a Politicized Context

Chapter 04: Faculty Development in a Politicized Context



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In this chapter, Ms. Yadiny talks about the political environment in which Faculty Development was established and has evolved. She shares anecdotes to illustrate.



Publication Date



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


Houston, Texas

Topics Covered

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center - Building the Institution; Institutional Politics; Understanding the Institution; MD Anderson Culture; Working Environment; On Leadership

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


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


Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

As you look back at that critical time, 1998, 1999, the early year, when the decision was being made, okay let’s blow the million dollars and do this, you know, or however much it ended up being for that first year, what was going on at the institution or with the individuals who were in a decision making place, where they could allow themselves to take the risk, or that they could see—even though they couldn’t see definitely, what was going to happen, that they were willing to make the commitment to go ahead and try? What was going on? I’m asking because it seems that MD Anderson seems to be able to step up and do that, and I’m wondering why. You know, is it the people, the culture?

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Well I’ll tell you something very interesting. It was because of Margaret Kripke. We got the Faculty Leadership Academy launched, was because of her, and because she believed in it and she’d done that ELAM program and she saw the results for herself, and Margaret was a learner and she convinced John Mendelsohn. He was a bit reluctant, but when he got the proposal from us, for what the program would look like, and Margaret was totally behind it, he said okay. So, we had to go—that was Jim Dorn, the Vice President of HR, Steve Tomasovic, and I, went to the, what was then called the management committee, and it was the division heads plus Dr. Mendelsohn and Dr. Kripke, and Leon Leach and Dan Fontaine, and do a presentation about this program. So we got in there and we’re sitting on the side and they’re around the conference table; this was on R-11, where the executive suite was, terrified because I was never invited into these meetings. Mendelsohn comes in and he puts this proposal on the table and all the division heads have it and he said, “This is a fabulous leadership development program.” You know, what he wanted them to do was just sign off on it, and so he said, “I want you to hear the presentation,” so the presentation was given by Steve Tomasovic, and then it was very interesting, Tacey, I could see the dynamic between Mendelsohn and the division heads. The division heads were not going to give him an easy signoff. One of them said, “What is this, amateur night at the rodeo?” I’ll never forget that. I thought, kind of, like what? A few others said, ‘This better work, because if you want me to release my clinicians to go to something like this, it better be good.’ ‘How do you know this is going to work, who is this group? You’ve had these two failures already.’ But it was clear that they felt that their role was in opposition to Mendelsohn. ‘We’re the division heads, our job is not to rubberstamp anything you bring to us.’ I’m guessing, but that was the dynamic of the room and I could see the look on Margaret’s face, she got a bit white there for a minute, and then she stepped up and said, “This is going to work and we’re going to do it.” She could be really tough, but she knew when to play it tough and when not to, and they said well… And that’s why, when the word on the street was positive Monday morning, she had a huge coup on her hands. She was like whew, whoa.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

No kidding, no kidding.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

A huge triumph, huge.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Very interesting, very interesting.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

So you see the politics inside MD Anderson. It’s a very, very political environment and to master it in any way, you have to be very politically astute and know when to talk and when not to, when to push your agenda and when not to. And, quite frankly, the people at the top, they’re not experts in leadership development. They may be experts in leading, but they don’t know how to do leadership development per se. They’ve all been involved in our program, so that’s great and they support that, but just recently, this morning I got an email, with an assignment that has come down to Oliver Bogler [oral history interview], and he has to put together a proposal on—one is on a leader development issue, based on the principles of servant leadership, it says in there. I read that and I just rolled my eyes, because that got thrown into, that term servant leadership, got thrown into some kind of document by HR, about 18 months ago, and the executives have latched onto it. Servant leadership is 45 years old and informs all of the leadership development we do, but they don’t know that because they don’t know the theories of leadership development. So now they’re saying put in servant leadership, but everything we do is based on servant leadership. We just didn’t use the term servant leadership because it’s kind of old fashioned now.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:


Janis Apted Yadiny:

So, you know, that’s when you somehow have to play the game, put in servant leadership everywhere, knowing that you’ve already done it, it’s already in there. One of the reasons this program works so well is it’s based on the principles of servant leadership. Encourage the heart, empower others, you know it’s not all about you, it’s about them. Those are the values that we’ve built these programs on.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Really interesting. Well, it’s also just another lesson about how, you know so many times it’s all about education, it’s all about repeating your message in different ways.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

In different ways, yes.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

So different people will hear it.

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Chapter 04: Faculty Development in a Politicized Context