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University Staff Advisory Council - page 9 / 16





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personal as I would like.  I have been a department chair, and at least in Arts and Science, I believe that the department chair shapes the relationships that exist among faculty and staff.  One thing that has come out of this most recent survey is that the relationship between faculty and staff needs some work.  And that is something that we are working very hard with our faculty to improve.  I think sometimes that faculty are stretched to the limit, just as staff are, and occasionally that relationship breaks down and doesn’t work as well.   

A couple of things that I heard back that could be improved upon with the third Staff Survey.  I think it needs to be a little bit easier to log on and fill in the information.  As much preset information would eliminate some of the ambiguities that I think many people had as to which listing was their home base.  Another issue is, and this relates to Arts and Science directly, especially to my office, I think there is a disconnect between staff and the upper administration. That would include, I guess, me.   Actually our office did not perform very well on the Staff Survey and I have been very honest in telling people that.   I think that disconnect is between some of the higher level goals that are being set for Vanderbilt and the ability to communicate them directly to staff members who are a key part of implementing those high level goals. This is something our entire college needs to work with.  I think we just have to do better.  I think we have to make the commitment to address as many of the issues that have come up as possible and to show that these data are not simply put on a shelf and forgotten.  A lot of that falls on the Deans to do so.  We are committed to making great use of this information and hopefully you will see the results of that in the next several years.

John Brassil:  It is really nice to hear that some of the stuff that we talk about in here about wanting to see go on with the staff survey is being thought about at the highest levels of the University.  

Up next we have our second longest serving dean on the panel, James Hudnut-Beumler from the Divinity School.  He has been here since 2000, and has unfortunately a PH. D. only  from Princeton.  He is also an ordained Presbyterian minister, a published author, and a member of the American Academy of Religion.  His CV is really just about lustrous as it can be.  Former member of the Lily Endowment, which I think probably was not harmful in helping you obtain the $10 million dollars that you guys just got to change things around at the Divinity School.  Perhaps you can give us a little different perspective on the Staff Survey -- sort of somewhere in between the Blair School and the College of Arts and Sciences.

James Hudnut-Beumler, Dean of the Divinity School.  It is somewhere in between.  I wanted to start with affirming something that Mark [Dean Wait] said and that is staff is often the point people for public interaction.  You have parents who think little Susie is the next Van Cliburne.  We have religious nuts.   Sometimes it takes real patience to deal with somebody who wants to know where in the Bible it says …. or more seriously to be able to handle somebody who comes in at 4:00 on Friday afternoon and wants to talk to a Priest.  Little by little the staff member discovers that the young woman has been raped  That actually happened a couple of years ago. In those pressure situations our staff almost never fails to impress me with their human sensitivity in dealing with difficult situations.  That said, this particular staff member was down the hall from my office in the Development Office.

In our staff family, if you ask the undergraduates, the divinity students, the graduate students,  and even the faculty, who is a part of our staff for the purposes of this survey, they would probably say the people down in the Development Office, the people in the Dean’s Office, the

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