Chapter 19: A Fun Job at an Institution that Inspires Commitment

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Chapter 19: A Fun Job at an Institution that Inspires Commitment

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Mr. Stuyck speaks briefly about some constraints he felt for his activities at MD Anderson. He notes the commitment employees at MD Anderson feel for what they do and how much job satisfaction employees have.

Mr. Stuyck speaks briefly about receiving the Anderson Network Award. He also notes that the Division of Public Affairs is one of only three institutions that have twice received recognition as an Outstanding Public Affairs Program. He briefly talks about the book that he received on his retirement, Steve Stuyck, the MD Anderson Years, and clarifies two mysterious references in that book. He then notes that his is most proud to have started the Cancer Information and Public Information services, both of which were groundbreaking at the time. He is also very proud that he engaged the institution's first public relations group. Next Mr. Stuyck talks about what MD Anderson has given him over the years: a rewarding and fun job. At the end of the interview he notes that he gave his job "his all" and hopes that MD Anderson will continue to lift the "huge burden" that cancer represents.

Identifier

StuyckSC_03_20130627_C19

Publication Date

6-27-2013

Publisher

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

City

Houston, Texas

Topics Covered

View on Career and Accomplishments; Understanding the Institution; MD Anderson Culture; Dedication to MD Anderson, to Patients, to Faculty/Staff; The MD Anderson Ethos; MD Anderson Past; MD Anderson History; Career and Accomplishments; MD Anderson Impact; Dedication to MD Anderson, to Patients, to Faculty/Staff; Personal Background; Giving Recognition

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.

Disciplines

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

Transcript

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

You’re worn out on it. Okay. Well, I guess I asked you earlier for your observations about moments of change, but I wanted to ask you the flipside question, which is what do you think—what has remained constant over the years that you’ve been—you were with the institution? Steve Stuyck, MPH Well, I think from a culture point of view— (end of audio one) (begin audio two) Steve Stuyck, MPH People have, who work here, have always cared tremendously about what they do. My observation is if that if you’re not the right fit for MD Anderson, you will move on fairly quickly, but I think that people are—find great satisfaction in their jobs here, no matter what it is they do, and I think that’s always been that way. Even when there was much to offer. I think it must have been fascinating to be here in the very early days. The Baker Estate Days—I mean it’s so primitive when you look back on it—that you wonder how people tolerated it during that time. But it was the best that there was to offer, and so I think that’s been one thing. I don’t know.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Uh-hunh (affirmative). Okay. All right. I had a couple of—oh, I wanted to ask you about—I don’t know if you’re a person that talks about awards. You’re a—I notice that you got a recognition award given at the 24th Anderson Network Cancer Survivorship Conference. Steve Stuyck, MPH Oh, yeah, yeah.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

I mean, you’ve received a number of awards. What do those mean to you? Is there one that is more important than others to you? Steve Stuyck, MPH The—that was very nice. It was kind of a retirement award that they gave me at the end at the Anderson Network Conference. What do I think about awards? You know, and I may have said this in the remarks I made when I retired, but the compliment I’ve received the most here at MD Anderson over all these years, and I mean it sincerely, is, “You know, Steve, you work with the greatest group of people.” I hear it all the time and I have from way back when, when we were just a small little group, you know. And—now might it be different. You know, you work with the—the adjective—you work with the nicest group of people, or the most creative group of people, or the hardest-working group of people, and it’s true. And I think that the award that means the most to me—twice we were chosen as the Outstanding Public Affairs Program in the nation by the Association of American Medical Colleges, and that was a group effort. The program was recognized, not the individual, and it was—we had big celebrations both times for that, and that means the most to me.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Tell me about that award, because I really don’t know what it’s awarded for. What are the criteria used to bestow it? Steve Stuyck, MPH Well, you submit an application that describes your program. And I think the award is still being given by the AAMC, and a group of us worked on putting together an explanation of what it was that we do, and how it contributes to MD Anderson goals, and when I left MD Anderson, I took the two awards, which were in huge binders, and sent them to the archives, because I thought that was reminiscent of what our programs had been during those years. There is competition for it. A lot of medical schools and teaching hospitals apply, and we were one of only three institutions—I believe Johns Hopkins and Baylor College of Medicine at the time, who received the award twice. So, it’s been a number of years, and I haven’t kept up with it to know if other institutions have done that.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Yeah that’s really—that really says a lot, you know, to have kind of that nation recognition. Steve Stuyck, MPH Dr. LeMaistre had a reception for us when we got it the first time, and Dr. Mendelsohn did it when we got it the second time. It’s nice.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

It’s nice. Now I have a couple of funny questions to ask you. Steve Stuyck, MPH Okay.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Which I got these from that book that was presented to you [Steve Stuyck: The MD Anderson Years, 1972 – 20120]. Steve Stuyck, MPH Oh yeah.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

And it was really informative, and it was great to the see the pictures, and there was some really cool— Steve Stuyck, MPH That was like amazing.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Yeah. To see effort that went into it. Steve Stuyck, MPH You know, did I tell you the story about that book?

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

No, tell the story if you would. Steve Stuyck, MPH My—my son, who is now—lives in Austin, came for the reception. You were there I think at the reception, weren’t you?

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

No, I’m sorry. I didn’t get—I wasn’t invited. Gee. Steve Stuyck, MPH I thought you had. Javier was and there, I know, and Stephanie. My son came down from Austin where he works for the reception, and they presented that book at the reception, which was a complete surprise to me. After the reception, we—he, and my wife, and I went out to dinner, and then when we were home—and you know he can be a kind of a cynical kid sometimes. He’s not a kid anymore. He’s thirty years old, and he was—I noticed he was sitting in the living room kind of carefully going through the book, and he would ask me questions, “What is this picture,” or “Who is that?” or that kind of thing. And after he went back to Austin, I thought, you know, that is—that means so much to me that your kid would really focus on—when usually he doesn’t and those sorts of things. So, it was very touching to me.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Sounds like maybe every parent ought to have a book like that. Steve Stuyck, MPH Really, yeah, yeah. We all have a story to tell.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Yeah, that’s true. Steve Stuyck, MPH We just don’t have the six hours of opportunity the way I do.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

That’s very true. Well, here are two little details, kind of funny little details. Steve Stuyck, MPH I’m ready.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

What is the story about “How it all started at a 5,000-watt radio station in Fresno? Steve Stuyck, MPH Oh. I got the—I got the line from a Mary Tyler Moore show. I am terrible about repeating myself.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

I’ve never heard it. Steve Stuyck, MPH When—when some people would ask me how this started or how that started or where you got started, I would often say, “It all started at a 5,000-watt radio station in Fresno,” where I have never been and never been in radio. It was just a joke. This certain number of lines—

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Short-circuiting the long explanation. Gotcha. But you became known for it obviously. Steve Stuyck, MPH Yes, among my staff. There were a couple of things like that. And another thing I used to say when someone would be late for a staff meeting, “And I’ll have more to eschew,” when he would come in the door, “And I’ll have more to say about your raises at our next meetings.” Things like that.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Well, I—and the other one I need to—wanted to ask about is, what are shpilkes and why do people associate them with you? Steve Stuyck, MPH Because shpilkes is a Yiddish word that means kind of like the jitters or nervous or upset or that kind of thing, and I frequently would say, “Well they’re all getting shpilkes about this, so we need to do something about it.”

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

There we go, okay. So shpilkes are like a symptom of a Public Affairs problem in the making. Steve Stuyck, MPH Yes. Right. Exactly. That or somebody else is bringing us a problem that they don’t need to be.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

There we go. That’s funny. Well, I’m glad that you didn’t have to you know kill me after you told me. So just a few final questions. Of the work that you’ve at MD Anderson, what are you please to have accomplished? It doesn’t have to be one thing, either. Steve Stuyck, MPH 0:07:28:0 Yeah. There are a few things. When I look back on it, I think what we did with the Cancer Information Service and our Public Education program—it’s certainly not just me—Jo Ann and many others, is something I value. Because I think that it was really pioneering and groundbreaking at the time. There simply was nothing like that and people were very nervous. And we were young, and we were determined to do a good job, and we did without a problem. So, that’s one thing I think of. I think that what I did to help the institution prepare for Patient. Self-Referral is another thing that I admire a lot. It was my suggestion that we have an MD Anderson information line. Others certainly implemented it, but I worked with them on getting that started. It’s now called Ask MD Anderson, and I understand. I’ve just been told that they’re going to move that to report to Gerard Colman, which is a very good idea, very reasonable. It’s part of our Patient Ingress Process. But I think that—it took a lot work—it took a lot of work to develop the plan for how we were going to overcome the financial crisis of the mid-1990s. That was part of it. And then to implement the program, and I worked on all of that with Dr. LeMaistre and the team from the beginning all the way on up through. So that’s another one that occurs to me. I think I did a lot to beef up our media profile, especially in the early years. Others took that on later on, but I’m very proud of the fact that I hired the first Public Relations firm for MD Anderson, and I also led the process that picked the Richard’s Group as our advertising agency. I had a lot of opportunities here. I really did. A lot of things. I can’t imagine my life without MD Anderson as I look back on it. It just, you know, I was very, very lucky.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Yeah, I was going to ask you the flipside. I mean, what you gave something to the institution, but what has the institution given to you? Steve Stuyck, MPH Oh plenty, plenty. I had a very interesting job that was very rewarding and fun, really, and exciting, too. My job here was many, many things, and every day was exhausting, or exciting, or upsetting, or something, but it was never dull one day. Not it in all that time. Not when I was twenty-five, and not when I was sixty-five. And I can’t believe that I should just stumble into this and be so lucky about all of this. So the institution gave me a lot—brought a lot of meaning to my life. A tremendous amount.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

What initiatives do you hope will be carried on by the people in Public Affairs, whatever; however it is structured in years to come? Steve Stuyck, MPH I have a friend who retired about the same time that I did from here, and he is very concerned about the future of his area, and how things are going to go. And I am just the opposite. I gave it my all for forty years, and it’s up to others right now. I have no particular—I have great wishes for MD Anderson itself. That we make greater progress against cancer and that great things happen here, but nothing—I follow with interest what’s going on in my area, but I keep my distance from it. I just—somehow it just didn’t—I didn’t get that. I’ve lost the drive in that regard.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Could you say more about your wishes for MD Anderson? You know, what you hope or foresee coming in the future? Steve Stuyck, MPH Well, we’ve come a long way certainly in quality of life kinds of issues, but there’s still—there’s this huge burden—people—millions of people who are developing cancer around the world, and you know, my hope is that we do better. I told you I think the story about hope is not enough, and I remember—I think about that a lot, but I have great hopes that there’s a lot more progress. I think we need a lot more progress.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

I have—I am out of questions. Steve Stuyck, MPH I am out of words.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Is there—is there—there’s nothing more you’d like to say? Steve Stuyck, MPH We’ve got five hours and twenty minutes worth of conversation. I’m going to be shocked when I see it on paper. Do you edit it before it comes to—?

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

No, no, no. Steve Stuyck, MPH Oh God.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

0:12:27:3 No, no, no and—no it can’t be. Steve Stuyck, MPH Oh goodness gracious.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Well, I wanted to thank you. I do want to officially ask you, is there anything else you’d like to add? Steve Stuyck, MPH Tacey, I’ve enjoyed it a lot. I cannot think of another word to say.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Well, it’s been my pleasure. It’s been great talking to you. Steve Stuyck, MPH Thank you. You’re very kind to say that.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

And I am turning off the recorder at seventeen minutes after 11:00. Steve Stuyck, MPH Okay (end of audio two) (End of Audio Session Three) a MDA-RML_Stuyck, Steve Index A Ackerman, Todd II-22, II-26 Ainsworth, Joseph T. III-13 American Cancer Society I-13, III-24 Amphotericin B II-46 Anderson, Roger II-11 B Bacillus Calmette-Guerin BCG I-23 Baile, Walter F. II-32 Balch, Charles M. II-12 Bartiromo, Maria II-20 Becker, Frederick II-13 Berry, Donald A. I-9 Bowen, James M. I-12, III-3 Brandenberger, Jane I-7 Burke, Thomas I-47, II-32 Buzdar, Aman II-6 C Cancer Information Service I-18, I-21, I-27, II-42, III-28, III-36 Cancer NewsLine II-38, II-39 CancerWISE Community Speakers Bureau II-41 Chamberlain, Robert M. II-5 Chin, Lynda II-19 Clark, R. Lee I-9, I-19, II-8, II-9, II-10, II-13, II-28, II-29, III-5 Clements, William P. I-14 Conrad, Fred III-3, III-12, III-13, III-14, III-15, III-18 Creative Services I-38 Cumley, Russell W. II-8 D Deloitte & Touche I-56 Department of Health Disparities Research I-46 DePinho, Ronald I-12, I-27, I-40, I-61, I-70, II-17, II-18, II-21, II-22, II-23, II-24, II-25 DeStefano, DeDe I-13, II-22 Division of Public Affairs I-39, I-43, II-30 Dolcefino, Wayne II-15 Draetta, Giulio F. II-19 E Economist, The I-44 Erbitux II-15 External Communications I-38, I-41 F Fidler, Isaiah J. II-13 Flawn, Tyrrell III-20 Forman, Arthur D. I-65 Freedman, Ralph S. III-1, III-6 French, Susan III-21, III-23, III-29 G Gabbe, Jill II-4, II-14, II-18 GabbeGroup I-42, I-44, I-46 Gelb Consulting II-3, II-4 Gillis, Justin II-15 Graham, Donald II-17 Gutterman, Jordan I-34, I-35 H Harrison, Karen III-26 Hawk, Ernest T. I-47, II-5 Houston Chronicle I-40, II-23 I Integrated Media Communications I-38 Internal Communications I-38, I-41, I-56, I-57, I-58 J Jackson, Julie II-2 Johnson, Wyatt Thomas "Tom" II-16 K Karafotas, Joan I-35 Kennedy-Stovall, Jennifer I-67 Kent State University I-9 Kim, Stephanie I-67 Kirkus Reviews III-6 Knotts, Glen I-9 Kripke, Margaret L. II-13, II-47 L L.A. Times II-16 Lang, Adrienne II-17 Lawson, Page III-20, III-21, III-23, III-25 LeMaistre, Charles A. I-11, I-12, I-13, I-14, I-15, I-17, I-23, I-27, I-30, I-31, I-42, II-8, II-9, II-10, II-11, II-12, II-13, II-14, II-16, II-21, II-24, II-29, II-35, II-43, III-3, III-10, III-11 Levin, Bernard II-1, II-2, II-5 Lichtiger, Benjamin III-15 Louisiana I-4, I-21 Lovett, Mary Nell III-21, III-26 M Markman, Maurie II-6 McCall, Charles I-29, III-24 Melosi, Martin III-4 Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center I-49, II-12, II-13, III-10 Mendelsohn, John I-12, I-13, I-15, I-27, I-42, I-44, I-46, I-49, I-58, I-67, II-11, II-12, II-13, II-14, II-15, II-16, II-17, II-20, II-21, II-22, II-24, II-46, II-47, II-48, III-3, III-5, III-10, III-11, III-20, III-28, III-32 Moon Shots Program II-19 Moreno, Mark A. II-17 Moreton, Robert I-25 Mulvey, Patrick B. I-47, II-17 N New Jersey I-47, II-20 New York City I-44, I-45 Newell, Guy R. II-5 Newson, Sarah I-55, I-57, II-34 Nicolson, Garth L. II-13 Nixon, Richard I-49 O Office of Public Affairs I-31 Office of Public Information and Education I-32 Oklahoma I-21 Olson, James I-9, III-3 P Pagel, Walter II-28, III-6 Prescription for Change I-60 Prevention magazine I-46 Public Information Office I-6, I-18, I-34 R Red Line I-54 Rice University III-21 Roswell Park I-49 Rotary Club of Houston I-35 S Schmidt, Benno C. II-13 Shapiro, Marc J. II-47 Shine, Kenneth II-17 Sinatra, Frank II-12 Southern Association for Colleges and Schools I-66 Spitz, Margaret R. II-5 T Time Magazine I-35 U University of Texas Medical Branch UTMB I-5, I-25 V Vidrine, Jennifer Irvin II-3, II-4 Vietnam I-6 Villejo, Louise A. II-6, II-33 Vogel, Victor G. II-5 von Eschenbach, Andrew II-12 W Walker, Nancy I-67 Walsh, Garrett II-45 Ward, Jo Ann I-20, II-5, III-29 Washington Post II-15, II-16, II-17 Y YouTube I-53, I-54

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Chapter 19: A Fun Job at an Institution that Inspires Commitment

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