Faculty retreat aspires to improve academic life for all departments

With the ultimate aim of enhancing the academic life and career development of School of Medicine faculty members, the Executive Committee of the Faculty Council and the Academic Affairs Committee is inviting and encouraging all medical school faculty to attend the WUSM 2003 Faculty Retreat.

Gregory Storch

Gregory Storch

The interactive retreat will be held from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Nov. 15 at the Eric P. Newman Education Center.

“The purpose of this retreat will be to enhance the environment at the School of Medicine by focusing on issues that further the career development of medical school faculty,” said Larry J. Shapiro, M.D., executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the medical school.

“Because we operate in a dynamic and changing environment, we must maintain constant vigilance in order to reinforce the high standards for which the School of Medicine is known. And to do so, we must have the support and involvement of all faculty.”

After more than a year of intensive planning, which included an extensive survey, the Retreat Planning Committee narrowed down key issues and top concerns facing medical faculty.

Diana Gray

Diana Gray

The five most frequently raised issues: Clarifying the criteria for promotion; improving the promotion process to ensure fairness and consistency; more effective implementation of the annual review process; establishing the best approach to mentoring; and improving faculty diversity, which includes ethnic, minority, gender and handicap issues.

Participants will choose to attend two of five discussion sessions, in which members will be divided into small breakout groups to foster in-depth discussions. The purpose of these sessions is to generate specific solutions and improvements that can be implemented over the next 12-24 months.

“We encourage faculty members from all departments and all tracks to attend,” said retreat committee Chair Gregory A. Storch, M.D., professor of pediatrics, of medicine and of molecular microbiology. “By working together, we can promote changes that will improve academic life for all faculty.”

WUSM Retreat 2003 Agenda

7:30-8 a.m.: Registration and breakfast

8-8:05 a.m.: Greeting; Jeffery Saffitz, M.D., Ph.D.

8:05-8:20 a.m.: Opening remarks; Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton

8:20-8:30 a.m.: Overview of the retreat; Gregory Storch, M.D.

8:30-9 a.m.: Keynote address; Dean Larry J. Shapiro, M.D.

9-9:30 a.m.: Faculty promotion; Diana Gray, M.D.

9:45 a.m.-noon: Breakout discussion groups

Noon-1:30 p.m.: Lunch & department head discussion panel

1:30-3 p.m.: Summary reports from breakout sessions and voting

Early registration and pre-retreat comments are encouraged; go online to wusmretreat.com.

The retreat also will mark the first time departments heads come together to answer questions related to the promotions process and faculty career development.

“Nothing like this has ever happened before,” Storch said. “The open-panel discussion will offer faculty members the chance to ask questions and express their concerns to department heads. We are also very excited that the retreat will be the first occasion in which the new dean will formally address the medical school faculty.”

In order to identify key issues for the retreat, the committee conducted an online survey (in which 32 percent of the medical school faculty participated) to better understand faculty attitudes and perceptions. The results of the survey are detailed in a 53-page report, which includes advice to the new dean, career development issues and discussion of both faculty diversity and the enhancements generated by the first retreat, held in February 2000.

The 2000 retreat resulted in several positive changes: Annual reviews are now mandated for all medical school faculty; non-departmental-chair faculty are included on promotion committees; and research-track faculty now have parallel status with investigator and clinician-educator tracks.

Although the first retreat drew 270 faculty members, the participants reported the best way to improve future retreats was to increase attendance.

“Although the governance of our medical school was not designed to be a truly democratic process, faculty members often voice frustration at a perceived lack of knowledge about and influence over internal affairs,” said committee member Diana L. Gray, M.D., associate dean for faculty affairs and professor of obstetrics and gynecology and of radiology.

“Participation in the faculty retreat is one mechanism whereby any individual faculty member may have compelling impact on School of Medicine policy. With this in mind, I sincerely hope that as many of our faculty members as possible will participate in this retreat.”

In an effort to make the event as productive as possible, faculty members are encouraged to register early and to post comments and concerns related to the discussion topics online at wusmretreat.com before attending the retreat. A 26-page guide to the retreat is also available on the site.

After the retreat, faculty members will receive a detailed summary and will be able to evaluate and comment via an online survey. Ideas and proposals will then be forwarded to the Executive Committee of the Faculty Council, the Academic Affairs Committee and Shapiro, who will establish a mechanism to evaluate and implement the proposals deemed best for enhancing academic life.

“Our goal is to have as positive an impact on the School of Medicine campus as possible,” Shapiro said. “We plan to create an environment where there is interaction amongst all parties in order to achieve constructive analysis and useful solutions.”