April 15, 2010

Message from the Vice Chancellor: From the Suggestion Box

At my State of the Medical Center Address last year, I announced the debut of the Vice Chancellor’s Suggestion Box, a way for staff, faculty and students to anonymously give feedback and suggestions for ways we can work together to make the Medical Center better.

Every single suggestion is read and evaluated. Many lead to action of one kind or another, and all are appreciated by me. A great institution isn’t afraid to admit it can improve, and improvement comes when we listen to each other.

Here, edited for brevity and clarity, are a few examples of suggestions that have come in, and responses provided by Medical Center officials.

Suggestion: Eliminate parking fees for employees. I feel that we as employees do not need to be charged to park.

Response: Nobody likes to pay for parking, but as long as patients, family members, staff, faculty, students, and volunteers need to park on campus, there will be expense involved.

Those of us who drive and park on campus pay below area market rates for doing so, but that charge helps offset some of the price of constructing and maintaining parking on our urban campus. Our campus is a very complex, diverse and populated area. People coming to Vanderbilt park more than 25,000 vehicles every working day. Nobody wants the campus to become more congested, and certainly nobody wants to pay for more parking garage construction.

While it’s not a perfect solution for everybody, it’s important to note that Vanderbilt pays more than $425,000 every year to provide free transportation for staff and faculty, including MTA bus rides, and subsidized commuter vans and passes on the Music City Star train. Anybody who uses public transportation to come to campus is helping protect our green campus from additional garage construction, supporting a community service, reducing greenhouse gas emissions — and is saving significantly on transportation cost as well.

For more information on alternatives to driving and parking on campus, visit the Traffic and Parking Web site at http://www.vanderbilt.edu/traffic_parking/.


Suggestion: Why do I have to change my ePassword every year? I’ve never been required to change it previously. Are there any exceptions?

Response: Vanderbilt is implementing an annual ePassword change in order to enhance computer system security and comply with federal audit requirements. Individuals with a VUnetID must change their ePassword by June 15. There are no exceptions. E-mail reminders will also be sent. I encourage you to change your password right away and not wait until the deadline. To change your ePassword, visit www.vanderbilt.edu/passwordchange and follow the instructions. Please remember that password changes sometimes take up to 15 minutes to propagate to all systems. If you have questions or need assistance, contact your local technology support, the ITS Help Desk at 343-9999, or the VUMC Help Desk at 343-HELP.


Suggestion: I would like to see some type of recognition for the average employee in a publication. A sincere pat on the back is the best way to motivate individuals and it does not cost any money.

Response: All of us appreciate recognition for work well done, whether this comes in the form of a positive word from a colleague, a note of appreciation from a supervisor or through an article published in one of our publications.

A tenet of our Leadership Assemblies is to encourage recognition for work well done in formal and informal ways. Our hard-working staff accomplishes amazing things every day. And there is tremendous value in remembering to stop and acknowledge these successes.

One of the main ways we do this is via our award-winning employee magazine House Organ. In the past few months, for example, House Organ has published:

• A profile of clinical technician II Paul Hightower
• A profile of Orvan Thompson, a 90-year-old L.P.N. who works for Vanderbilt Home Care Services
• An article highlighting the outstanding work with the YWCA Domestic Violence Shelter done by Joanne Goodwin of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center
• Coverage of the winners of an employee art show
• Several articles on employee musicians

Additionally, House Organ provides a forum for talented employees by conducting annual photography and writing contests, as well as publishing the annual Pets of the Medical Center issue.

With more than 17,000 staff and faculty at the Medical Center, unfortunately it is just not possible to recognize in print all of the many achievements of our talented and interesting staff. But Wayne Wood, assistant director of VUMC News and Communications and editor of House Organ, always wants to receive story ideas from staff, faculty, students and volunteers. Wayne can be reached at wayne.wood@vanderbilt.edu.

Have a suggestion? The suggestion box can be reached online at www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/suggestionbox