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University Staff Advisory Council - page 11 / 16





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in the Divinity School and eventually the Engineering School among others.  We haven’t figured out how to incorporate Blair yet, but we are working on it.  Maybe we can play music as you are being operated on.

I learned a long time ago as a CEO of a company that you never ask a question that you don’t want an answer to.  So surveys are always interesting, because they invoke first of all the quality of the response is often based on the question asked, and also the number of responses given.  As I look back at the Owen staff survey, I saw a couple of things.  I got to see some of the staff surveys as well University-wide which helped to put things in perspective for me.  I saw, I thought, a pretty happy staff.  They were generally pleased. Nobody was burning crosses on my yard or anything like that.   Generally I thought the staff also plugged into the goals and objectives of the school.  I think that it is critically important for every staff member on the team to really understand what the school is about; what the university is about; what our mission is.  To be able to set that forth, we took a step this year, much to chagrin of the General Counsel office, promising our staff and our faculty and our alumni and our students a quality of work life and student life that we don’t live up to everyday but very very strongly to fulfill.  I have tried to invoke a regular communication plan to show the budget to the entire staff to let them see what the drivers of the financial programs are for Vanderbilt and Owen. We are a business at the end of the day.  Only the federal government can operate at a deficit for long period of time.  To put things in context in the graduate MBA programs of the world, we have seen in the last 2 years about a 55% cumulative downturn in MBA applications nationwide; 35% last year; down about 20% this year.  Owen is up about 10% this year in applications which is very nice.  I think a lot of that is attributed to the attitude of the staff and the attitude of the entire program.  I think people at Owen understand what we are about and the task that lies ahead.  We have been doing some expanding of staff. We have hired some marketing individuals to tell our story to the world.  

While I think there are lot of things that can be done, building trust with the staff is critically important.  As I looked at what the survey said, there were some very high rankings in certain areas. The area that probably needs the greatest attention is just an establishment of trust that we are going to do what we say we are going to do, and do it, and everybody understands why.   I am very enthusiastic about the staff.  I would like to see the survey continue.  I would like to echo some of the earlier comments:  a survey easier to fill out, more encouragement to get 100% participation or high level of participation, and perhaps shorter and more direct.  So I look forward to participating again.   Seeing what the results are and then publishing those and sharing those with everyone.  In my twelfth day as Dean, I am trying to decide not what to do next but what lies ahead.  Thank you and if you have any questions I will be happy to answer them.

John Brassil:  If you need any help on your next trip to Brazil, let me know.

James Bradford:  I have been there 15 times; so this is not a new venture.

John Brassil:  We are going to reset and head back down to the other end of the table.  It is appropriate that we have the musician there [Dean Wait] to improvise basically on the theme on where Vanderbilt is headed and where his school is headed.  This is an opportunity for each Dean to talk a little bit about how they see the role of their school and their staff’s particular role in moving Vanderbilt forward towards the middle of the new century and just in general what sort of things we can expect to see in each of the four institutions that we have represented here

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