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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.

Opening Remarks
  • Dr. Steve Schwab stated that the administration was there to listen to what needs to be changed.
  • Dr. Lori Gonzalez mentioned an upcoming wine and cheese social for faculty.
  • Dr. Chandra Alston stated that HR is here to support faculty and if there are issues with employees to let HR know.
  • Older faculty members aren't getting raises. Newer faculty are making more money coming in.
  • Resident education is not recognized like research is.
  • People are leaving because of pay. The promotion from Assistant to Associate Professor is small.
  • When we don't get enough students, budgets are decreased           

Response: UTHSC is working on an aggressive bonus program for research and clinical endeavors. UTHSC is also rolling out a pilot educator program. If it works, it will be utilized across campus.

As part of the program a faculty member can submit a dossier documenting his or her excellence in teaching. The faculty member doesn't have to be nominated and the program is metric-based. If approved, a cash award will be given at the end of the year.

 Dr. Schwab stated that raises are left up to the colleges and that the COM is an outlier. Dr. Brown stated that there is always money.

There is no incentive in ULPS, therefore Dr. Schwab stated that he will speak with practice group leadership.

 Dr. Schwab explained that colleges have multiple sources of income. When money comes to the college, the college then decides how to use it.

  • Department chairs aren't conveying helpfulness/willingness to help departments.
  • Mentorship Program for Junior Faculty?
  • Some staff need to be trained to be more service- oriented toward patients.

Response: Dr. Schwab stated that if no justice is received going through the normal chain of command, bring concerns to campus administration. Dr. Brown stated that it is good to go to the deans since they are aware of the activities within colleges; the administration serves as facilitators.

 Dr. Gonzalez stated that a Quality Enhancement Plan is in place, and one of the modules is inter-professionalism. Dr. Schwab has made training mandatory.

Dr. Brown stated that it is up to the department to train employees and students to be civil.

  • Good employees (staff) are leaving because of salaries. How can we retain them? Employee hiring should be easier and quicker.
  • Good faculty are leaving.

Response: Dr. Alston stated that the time-to-hire has improved from 2.5 months to 45 days, and HR is still working to improve this. If departments have a problem with retention come speak with HR, especially before an employee leaves.

  Dr. Brown stated that this issue is something that Dr. Stern, the administration, and department chairs are aware of and have had conversations about.

 Dr. Schwab stated that we want to make sure faculty have the right facilities, the atmosphere is correct, and compensation is fair. We don't lose people because of compensation. We need to make UT attractive enough to stay.

Visa Status
  • How will the political situation surrounding visas change things?

Response: Dr. Schwab explained that we will do whatever we have to do in order to comply with federal law.

  • The funding for NIH is steadily declining.

Response: Dr. Brown suggested that faculty partner with other faculty members to increase the chances of getting funded.


Community Outreach
  • It would be beneficial to have a relationship with the Shelby County School System for community outreach.
  • UTHSC isn't known in the community.
  • It would also be good for the community to have a UTHSC symposium. 

Response: Dr. Brown stated that there has been more publicity for the campus in the last five years than there had been in the previous 95 years.

Other Suggestions
  • It would be helpful it the Faculty Senate members and college committees disseminate information like they should be- e.g. new research policy.
  • The Office of Clinical Research has great resources. It would be good to market these to the campus more.
  • Incentives should be offered for practitioners to come into academia-e.g., maybe offering a student loan repayment plan. Student loans are so high that practitioners are choosing private practice over academia.
H Lot Parking Garage
  • Debris on the stairs
  • Speeding in the parking garage, especially at the Madison entrance, drivers would avoid the speed bumps by driving around almost hitting the people walking at the cross walk

Response: Dr. Brown will someone clean the stairwell look into adding more speed bumps in the garage.

  • Instead of promotions from within, managers seek/recruit external employees.
  • Job titles are not correlating with the amount /type of work (working outside of their PD)

Response: Taleo, our job application software program, is used to help identify the best candidate for each position. All applications are screened based on eligibility and qualifications based on the job description. Human Resources is also working to partner with managers to create tier system approach for positions, allowing employees to promote up within a position.

Food Services
  • Food prices should be reduced.

Response: We are in the process of revamping the entire food services. People don't mind paying for good quality food, so we will look into other options.

Boling Center
  • Security breaches, no police presence, unsecure.
  • Maintenance requests are not completed in a timely manner (i.e. takes 3 months to get locks fixed)

Response: Campus police officers will be assigned to the Boling Center.

  • Microsoft database is needed for research.

Response: Dr. Goodman is currently working to address this need.

  • Showers in the hallway of the Coleman Bldg. near the research labs, do not have drains.

Response: This should also be shared with Dr. Goodman and they will look into adding this feature if necessary.

  • Compensation seems to be a mystery

Response: It is not a mystery if you have any questions or concerns talk to Dr. Chandra Alston to discuss how it works and how it impacts you and your department

  • We do offer desk audits, meaning someone would come monitor the person's duties, and responsibilities and compare how they align with the PD. 
  • Will there be a raise this year?

Response: Yes, an across the board raise of 3% is likely and will be retroactive to July 1, 2017, if applicable.

Issues with Management/Supervisors
  • Dealing with difficult coworkers/supervisors

Response: There will be mandatory training for supervisors with repeated complaints 

  • Can employees give performance evaluations on supervisors

Response: 360 supervisors evaluation

  • Can payroll deductions be implemented for employees who used the dental services, to avoid reporting employees to collections
Financial/Educational Assistance
  • Is Educational Assistance or any financial assistance offered for out of state universities

Response: No, it is a state only benefit. The state finds it economically beneficial to keep it within the state.

  • Can financial assistance be offered for dental work in the College of Dentistry or can it be payroll deducted?

Response: Need to talk to Toni Baker about having dental bills deducted from payroll

  • Employees with disabilities don't feel welcome at the gym and something is needed to assist employees with disabilities with the gym equipment.

Response: If any gym staff is reluctant to assist, notify Dr. Brown. Also if we have special need equipment available but if we do not have what you are looking for, please inform the gym staff, so we can purchase it.

  • People are abusing FML/SLB and it seems unfair for others.

Response: FML usage is monitored closely by the department and only granted after careful review of medical certification by Human Resources. SLB can only be used if you are on FML, for special circumstances and is thoroughly reviewed by the SLB Board before it is approved.



Q: We are in competition (facilities department) trying to hire hard to fill certain positons, which have been posted for a while. We are we going to do about that?

A: Create strategy and work with parent schools to figure out how to find full time employees.


Q: Any plan to tie merit pay increases into Performance Evaluations?

A: We could if all supervisors were objective and fair. We are still working on improving this process.  

Q: What can be done to reward employee?

A:  Google ways to reward employees:

  • We offer where you can provide spot bonus, which allows up to $1000 to each employee.
  • Provide recognition during meetings.
  • Read out notes and emails of praise.
  • Read A Carrot A Day by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton for ideals on how to reward employees. 
  • One social event/retreat is allowed annually, on or off campus.  
  • Q: Can more than just a supervisor rate the Performance Evaluation?

A: One person is responsible because that person is responsible for knowing the totality of the employee’s job.

A: There has been decision about 360 evaluations, where peers and supervisors both rate an employee but that is still under review.

University Strategic Plans

Q: What are the most important goals this year?

A: Our goals align with our strategic plan. View the campus master plan. We always want to be better than the year before.

Upcoming Forum Dates: UTHSC Campus

  • March 23, 2017 (Faculty Only)
  • June 6, 2017 (Non-Supervisory Exempt and Non-Exempt Staff)
  • July 18, 2017 (Supervisory Exempt and Non-Exempt)
  • November 1, 2017 (Faculty Only)



"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)."

Last Published: Aug 14, 2018