Leadership Forum

As administration focuses on the mission and vision of The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), leadership wants you to know that, your voice matters. Therefore, the University has begun a new initiative titled "Leadership Breakfast Forum." This initiative will allow both faculty and staff employees to be randomly selected on a quarterly basis to join our leaders, Dr. Steve Schwab, Chancellor, and Dr. Ken Brown, Executive Vice Chancellor and COO, for breakfast and casual conversation.

The first Leadership Forum was held on October 13, 2015, with a diverse randomly selected group of employees and faculty members in attendance. The chart below contains a list of the issues attendees discussed with Dr. Schwab and Dr. Brown, as well as the actions taken to address the concerns.

Security needed for the east side of campus. Campus
Associate VC of HR and Employee Relations Team Leader met with the Chief of Police.
Valet parking needed for Hamilton Eye Institute. Parking Services This matter is under review and will be addressed directly by the Executive VC of Operations, soon.
Clerical Support needed for some of faculty members in General Dentistry. College of Dentistry Business Manager will be revising PDQ’s; Approved to hire staff.
MIB faculty would like the incentivized process to be a little more positive; when faculty members prepare to leave or retire. Faculty would like to keep their health insurance. Employee Relations/Benefits Benefits Team Leader and Insurance Coordinator in HR will meet with MIB faculty.
Crossing guards are needed for Madison Ave. Campus
Executive VC of Operations and Chief of Police will look into this option.
Elevators in the 910/920/930 garage and building are not in good working order; they need to be cleaned and the stairwell in the garage is dirty; Signage is needed for the patients to find the Hamilton Eye Institute. Facilities Executive VC of Operations met with Director of Facilities to address the concern.
Proximity challenges: visiting other campuses. Employee Relations *2016 Leadership Forums in Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Jackson, beginning in February.
Is there a future in animal research at UTHSC? There are some safety concerns about the people who do animal research at UTHSC.   Addressed by Executive VC of Operations: We will continue to conduct animal research in accordance with applicable laws, regulations and University policies.

In 2016, Leadership Forums will be held quarterly. The first of these was on January 13. We will also be visiting off-site campuses to allow faculty and staff outside the Memphis area to interact with Dr. Schwab, Dr. Brown and other members of UTHSC leadership. Randomly selected participants will be notified via email invitations. Supervisors are encouraged to permit full participation in this event unless mission critical.

Concern Responsible Party/Group Actions Taken
Concern about recent robbery in GEB garage Campus Police Not many such events in past 3 years. E-mail Chief of Police and Dr. Brown with suggestions. Call for escort when appropriate; call police whenever anything suspicious is observed
Budget is slim, do we have any plans for more funding becoming? Finance and Operations Over the past 5 years we have doubled our investment. Looking at projects that haven’t worked. Dr. Gonzalez is actively looking at things. We are looking to spend money smarter.
Commencement – only 3 facilities in Memphis that hold more than 1,000: Cannon Center, Orpheum and Convention Center. More options are needed School system locks down entire month of May, but they only use facilities at night. Academic Affairs We will continue to look at other options.
Pauline garage is not in the best of shape with falling concrete and elevators that don’t work. Facilities Administration Dr. Brown stated that the building is slated for demolishment; therefore, we will not make significant improvements but instead, build a new facility for the College of Medicine. We have purchased the building at Madison and Pauline for conference center or new COM facility.
H-Lot across from Coleman building, equipment left equipment, by facility workers. Golf Cart in the same lot is parked blocking entry gate, causing backup in traffic at 8am. Facilities Administration Reported to Facilities and Dr. Brown reported.
GEB is key-coded but the tunnel to College of Dentistry is not and patients have been wandering around in restricted areas. The tunnel should also be key-coded. Facilities Administration Dr. Brown will work with facilities administration regarding a card-reader being installed to prevent unauthorized parties from gaining access to restricted areas.
Not enough patient parking at College of Dentistry building Facilities Administration Administration is thinking through strategy: Hamilton has valet parking, which may be the best solution for Dentistry.
Lack of communication within Enrollment Services and Admissions. 1500 applicants are assigned NETIDs even though only 98 are accepted. Academic Affairs Discussion will begin with Dr. Gonzales, to put it on her radar screen.
Strategies for Succession planning: 700 employees are retirement eligible. Human Resources/Departments

HR is responsible for putting together a program to teach managers to mentor.  Starting with the Business Managers.
Working with departments to do the following:
  • Create internships/mentorships
  • Create succession planning programs
  • Make sure we have training individuals ready to step up and do what is needed. 

We may need a two track mission, one for educators and one with mission. We need to allow professionals to choose their path.
910 Madison elevators don’t work Facilities Administration  Facilities administration was made aware and elevators were worked on. 
Need a research infrastructure

Very important to hire competent people to edit grant proposals

Processing contracts is very slow, although not unique to UTHSC
Research Administration Dr. Schwab, suggested attending Dr. Goodman’s Town Hall meeting on 1/19. In this meeting he will set out the infrastructure for research going forward. 
More community outreach and presence in the community.   Chancellor’s Office The fourth leg of the UTHSC mission, public service, supports the focus and efforts put forth by the University. We have a duty to treat underserved population with proactive, preventive solutions.

Dr. Stern is deeply committed to children at risk (obesity, Type 2 Diabetes). We have recently opened a Forensics and Medical Examiner office and will be looking at health department data on death certificates.
More cameras on campus Campus Police The University is currently in phase 2 of security upgrades, increasing the number of cameras and police presence we have on campus. We will also implement an emergency messaging system. Memphis is a violent city; however security begins with all of us being individually invested. The system is only as good as we are. 38163 is the safest zip code in Memphis but If you see anything that concerns you, call police 901-448-4444.  
Building at Madison and Pauline needs to be renovated.  Facilities Administration The University recently purchased building the building 1 year ago. It will cost $2.5m to tear it down. Plans for this building can be found in the new Campus Master Plan. Something will happen in the near future. 
Sodexo has an exclusive contract with UTHSC that prohibits us from getting quality food at a cheaper rate. Finance and Operations and Sodexo  This is under review and ongoing discussions are being held regarding the contract.  
Want a better connection with the College of Dentistry; need a true integration of oral health with COD. The process is too long and tedious. College of Dentistry  Will discuss and work with College of Dentistry administration. 

Opening Remarks

Dr. Steve Schwab: This is our opportunity to speak to you and a mechanism to communicate without filters.  We have had great success in the last 5 years: graduation rate is 95%, and clinical internships have increased three-fold in the last 6 years.  This is your opportunity to tell us what is going on at your level.

Dr. Ken Brown: If you see something that needs to be fixed, tell us, in order to make UTHSC the best environment possible.  You have an open invitation to communicate with us.

Concern Response
Molecular Research Center has recently relocated to new space in the Transitional Sciences Research Building. Currently it is difficult to gain access to the building: why is the space not more accessible? Dr. Brown: We will loosen access as new tenants move in.
Endocrinology has undergone budget cuts and is not receiving sufficient support Dr. Brown: Dr. Goodman has the institutional resources to grow clinical research enterprises; Dr. Stern has a lot of competing interests for resources and has to set priorities.  No. 1 priority is filling open positions.

Dr. Schwab: Dr. Goodman has been challenged with evaluating resources and has been given more control over the direction of funding.
When exiting 910-920-930 parking garage into the Court Street circle, drivers speed; stop sign is needed at that location. Dr. Brown: We can look at whether a stop sign is needed at the exit to the garage.
Animal facility for CFRI LeBonheur is housed at Coleman Building, which was not built to house animals. There are roaches in the building, sometimes visible walking on the animal cages, which could influence the research. Dr. Brown: University is attempting to acquire an animal facility.  Coleman is in Phase 2 of $20 M upgrade. La’Keith Miller will follow up with Facilities to address roach problem.

Dr. Schwab: We currently have 6 facilities housing animals; the long-term solution is to build, renovate or acquire a master facility.  In the interim, we need to fix the problems that were raised.
Per Diems are very high compared to other institutes Dr. Goodman is looking at what the per diem should be. The current rate undermines bringing new investigators in. We are being priced out of the market in some circumstances.
Need to identify and grow research pillars, connect all research to them instead of a departmental structure. Dr. Schwab: We are in the process of breaking down barriers and looking at long history of departmental structures that exist to support the faculty.  Our evolution has been in interim moves.

Dr. Brown: The new Transitional Sciences Research Building was built around the pillars.  Open spaces make collaboration easier, but assignments are still controlled by Departments.   There is resistance to change by Department Chairs
Academic Affairs is working to have Human Resources more involved in faculty onboarding. Need more faculty recognition in the non-monetary formats such as announcements, web pages. Working on figuring out the right places for recognition and faculty visibility. Dr. Schwab: We need to develop financial incentives for outstanding clinicians
Current administration has planted an identity and marketed this University. There was no construction on campus for years and no identity. Now there are new construction projects and new infrastructures even though funding is limited. The last decade has been remarkable in this regard. N/A
Reviewing the Workplace Dynamics survey responses from the College of Pharmacy, there is high concern for pay and benefits that need to be addressed so that employees will want to stay. Chandra Alston: Human Resources has looked at benchmarks and comparative salary data and met with all of the Deans on campus. There is a plan in place to address to bring employees with at least 5 years of service to 85% of market.  HR can make compensation information available to the staff. 90% of survey responses said they were paid fairly, and only 10% are below market level.  I challenge the notion that our benefits package isn’t competitive.  Exit Interviews indicate that employees leave their jobs because of supervisors, not money.

Dr. Schwab: Supervisors are being held accountable for creating a work environment that will retain employees.
Current trend is for doctors to sign contracts with hospitals or big medical groups. ULPS/LeBonheur gave contracts to doctors to sign; some of the faculty wanted to hire an employment lawyer so they would know what they are signing. They need training so that they can understand the terms of the contract. There are also tax consequences they are not aware of Dr. Schwab: These issues should be addressed through education. We are working to get these issues into required education for sr. residents. At the very least, make available as on-line education.
Problem recruiting qualified applicants because they don’t want to move to Memphis. Can we get a real estate agent to take applicants on a tour of Memphis, or provide statistics? Dr. Brown: The problem has been recruiting applicants from east and mid-Tennessee, as opposed to out of state applicants. We have no problem recruiting people from Chicago, Birmingham, and other areas outside of Tennessee. Memphis is a cosmopolitan city with a low cost of living and enough upsides that recruiting should not be a problem.
Concern about possible legislative activity to outsource Facilities Dr. Brown: We will work together and continue to support Facilities. We are prepared to put our numbers on the table and challenge the government to do it less expensively
When will there be a new building for women and babies? Dr. Schwab: I have met with the Trustees and it is a priority to convince the state that we need a facility for women and newborns

Dr. Brown: We have been thinking about such a facility for 5 years and actively working on it for 2 years. We have already programmed every piece of equipment that would be in the facility; we just need the funding.  LeBonheur and Methodist are both interested in the project.
MIB is in an old building, cold all the time and hot in the summer. Building is scheduled for demolition
Student Affairs staff members are concerned for their jobs, and they feel that they don’t have support from anyone. We have a demanding student population and accrediting bodies require students to go on-line and give feedback. Satisfaction scores from key customers are not where they should be.  Student Affairs has been an outlier for years.  We need to find a way to get better at meeting the needs of constituent students because we score lower than other universities and we have to ask why.

Dr. Brown: I have supported Student Affairs. We need to restructure so we have the right people in the right roles. Dr. Gonzalez is still trying to find the right balance.
Need better security in Pharmacology and Physiology. Employees buzz people in without knowing who they are or why they are in the building Dr. Brown: Security is always a big concern. We have done $20M in security upgrades with a new ID system and more video surveillance; however, more security means more inconvenience. We will talk to employees about letting people in. If you think someone shouldn’t be in the building, challenge them.
Problems with elevators. Facilities has a new elevator contractor who is assessing all of the elevators on campus so we can get them where they need to be.
Question about campus security in light of robbery in garage a few months ago. Dr. Brown: We cut off access points to the garage and increased patrols.
Training on contract and tax issues should be done for dental students. This can be followed up directly with the College of Dentistry administration.

Upcoming Forum Dates: UTHSC Campus

  • September 7, 2016
  • November 9, 2016

Upcoming Forum Dates: Off Site

  • May 3, 2016
  • July 13, 2016

Chattanooga Leadership Forum

Opening Remarks

Dr. Steve Schwab commented on the steady expansion of the UTHSC Chattanooga campus, mentioning dentistry and pharmacy.

Dr. Chandra Alston commented on HR’s focus on compensation and execution and her plans to work with Jane Clay and the Dean to make sure the campus is on the right track.

Concern Response

Update on the Dean’s search?

Dr. Ford, the chair of the search explained that there were two candidates that they had interviewed but that there was no final decision yet.

A lack of resources for training, research, and meetings


Is a Practice Plan possible?

Dr. Steve Schwab: there is currently a maldistribution of resources at the campus, but UTHSC will be negotiating with the new Erlanger leadership team and determining the best way to perform patient-based investigation.


Dr. Ken Brown: the new Dean will be in charge and the university is responsible for patient-based investigation, not the hospital.

Some department members work for the university while others work for the hospital; half of my department is run by two bosses- the university and the hospital.

Dr. Steve Schwab: departments are growing and the work is to integrate the clinical, education, and research missions. The integration of the three missions needs to go back on the table as well as the affiliation agreement, and the Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs will be involved. Dr. Schwab mentioned the master affiliation agreement and Erlanger’s past financial struggles.

A lack of money to train employees

Dr. Schwab: he is meeting with Mr. Spiegel today.

Dr. Ken Brown: there could be a meeting today with Dr. Stern, the department chairs, and Mr. Spiegel to get them the resources they need.

Faculty members are paying out of their pockets for their own resources, and there is no time, no compensation, no credit, and no benefits- remaining Erlanger-based isn’t sustainable.

Dr. Steve Schwab: this needs to be fixed in the short-term and in the long-term. He stated that funds needs to be redistributed and that leadership hears the concerns and is committed to fixing it.

Research needs support from engineering. Is increased collaboration between campuses possible?

Dr. Steve Schwab: they will start melding programs together and UTC is committed to doing that. An Associate Dean of Research would be critical. Dr. Brown agreed that this was a good idea and that a conversation with UTC and GSM could happen quickly.

Medical student education- there is no clerkship coordinator. As the PA program expands, someone will need to take on this position.

Dr. Steve Schwab: the PA program will transition from the COHP to the COM July 1 and a Chair was recently appointed to oversee the program. The Dean of the campus now possesses oversight of the program.

Is there a five or ten year plan?

Dr. Ken Brown: he would meet with Erlanger and UTC to come up with a Master Plan as well as a Physical Master Plan.

Pilot project with Blue Shield? They have these in areas in TN but not Memphis

Dr. Steve Schwab: there needs to be a reallocation of GME and that the Deans will have responsibility.

Will wet labs be added to campus?

Dr. Steve Schwab: the Erlanger campus of UTHSC has no future plans of acquiring wet laboratory space. He suggested contacting UTC for wet laboratory collaboration. Dr. Brown suggested looking to Memphis for research collaboration.

Closing Remarks

Dr. Chandra Alston mentioned that UTHSC HR is open to reviewing PDQ’s if an employee feels that it needs to be updated. She also mentioned HR was looking into a mentorship program for employees as well as a new tool to devise position descriptions.

Knoxville Leadership Forum

Opening Remarks

Dr. Steve Schwab commented on the relationship between the hospital and university. He gave an overview of the history at UTHSC’s location in Knoxville, stating that the College of Dentistry will soon have a presence on the Knoxville campus.

Dr. Ken Brown commented on his relationship with Dean Neutens and stated that employees in Knoxville shouldn’t feel that they can’t raise questions to the UTHSC Memphis campus. He gave a status update of the new building that will house Speech and Audiology and informed everyone that construction would start soon.

Dr. Chandra Alston described the staff market salary analysis and stated that the minimum wage has been raised to $10.00 an hour. She also informed the audience that open enrollment this year would be two weeks.

Concern Response

How many faculty and students will be housed in the new building?

The new building will house faculty, students, and Post-Docs from Speech and Audiology. College of Pharmacy most likely will not be expanding, but there will be a steady increase in dental students.

What are the obstacles in accomplishing the UTHSC mission?

Funding has changed, and the state of the university is changing and growing. The research and academic mission is supported by clinical enterprises.

Are any expansions planned for the College of Medicine and the College of Dentistry?

College of Dentistry training is coming to Knoxville. Helping Hands, located in Bristol, TN is a location that patients may receive affordable care. Dental locations will be opening in Nashville (St. Thomas) and Chattanooga (Erlanger). Until Memphis is at capacity, it is not possible to open something new somewhere else. Preclinical years will occur in Memphis for cost reasons.

The parking situation for the new building

Plans for a 1000 space lot have been discussed. UTHSC is working with the hospital to accomplish this.

What library facility will support new students and faculty?

We’re right-sized space for the next 5-10 years. Spaces have been minimized in Memphis since most resources can be found electronically.

Will there be a dedicated primary care center on campus?

Dr. Steve Schwab: this is something that leadership is interested in. We need to partner with the hospital to accomplish this and are currently in discussions.

Political situation concerning user agreement for Speech and Audiology

Dr. Ken Brown: we are past the user agreement and that construction is about to start in a few months. He stated that the state’s building process is slow.

Employees don’t know where to go/where they belong. For example, they attend orientation at UTK. Is there an opportunity at GSM to bridge this gap?

Dr. Chandra Alston: new employee orientation will soon be online. She stated that she would love to partner and have more conversations. HR is also thinking of having a Service Award reception in conjunction with next year’s leadership forum.


Dr. Michael Alston suggested bringing diversity training and disability employment awareness month events to Knoxville.

Pay scale inequities

Pay scales at the Health Science Center vs. UTK were discussed. The differences between Memphis/Nashville, Knoxville/Chattanooga, and the state’s pay scale were explained. UTHSC’s pay scale is higher than UTK’s and recruiters need to be aware of these differences so that they are communicating accurate information to potential new hires.

Lab technicians’ pay grade is 34-36, and it is hard to get potential new hires to come to UTHSC.

Dr. Chandra Alston: this is something that should be discussed.

What is UTHSC’s number one priority?

Dr. Steve Schwab explained that UTHSC’s number one priority is to grow its mission.

Closing Remarks
Dr. Chandra Alston commented that following changes to the FLSA, newly non-exempt employees will not be able to accrue annual leave at their current rate; newly non-exempt employees will accrue annual leave in accordance with UTHSC policy. Furthermore, residents and fellows will not be affected by changes to the FLSA but Post-Docs will.

As a follow up to the forum attendees provided their feedback:

The opportunity to share my suggestions and thoughts with the campus leadership was helpful. I also enjoyed hearing from other employees around the campus and getting to know more about what is going on in their areas.

Everyone listened to our concerns and I feel like progress will be made going forward. 

All comments and questions were answered and acknowledged. They made every department represented feel important and appreciated. 

I like the fact that the Chancellors were available to meet and discuss ways to help improve the University. It was a privilege to have been asked to be a part of the first Leadership Breakfast Forum, Thank You.

I like the opportunity to share with and receive insights from other individuals, at high levels (outside the college). Faculty also needs a forum for presenting sensitive concerns, perhaps on Ombudsman.