Goal is to Make Substantive Changes in Culture and Promote Greater Diversity Among Senior Leadership Positions
University of Maryland School of Medicine Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, announced today that, as part of a new school-wide “Program in Cultural Transformation,” the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) will launch a major restructuring of its senior leadership positions to ensure that women are represented at the highest levels of the UMSOM.
The new Program in Cultural Transformation was launched to faculty, students and staff during a multi-day “listening tour” conducted across the UMSOM constituents. The Program will be designed to transform the UMSOM culture into a national model for a respectful, inclusive and professional work environment.
Dean Reece said the following changes will be effective immediately:
- Several women in the organization will be promoted to executive leadership positions; including to the positions of Chief Operating Officer for the UMSOM, Senior Associate Dean for Medical Student Education, Associate Dean for Medical Student Admissions, and Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Cultural Transformation;
- A “Dean’s Advisory Committee on Cultural Transformation” will be formed to assess progress on a regular basis and make specific recommendations for action;
- A new senior-level member of the Dean’s Executive Cabinet will be given the responsibility to oversee a slate of new and existing initiatives that represent significant changes in all aspects of professionalism and conduct in the UMSOM culture;
- A new “TransformMed” email box has been created (TransformMed@som.umaryland.edu) for anyone in the UMSOM community to raise concerns, ask questions and share ideas for the Program in Cultural Transformation, or for issues to be brought to the attention of the Dean or the Executive Cabinet.
Currently, women represent 40 percent of the full-time faculty, and 60 percent of the medical students at UMSOM. In the new management structure, women will make up 43 percent of the Dean’s Executive Cabinet, and 23 percent of UMSOM senior leadership, including Department Chairs, members of the Dean’s Executive Cabinet, and Directors of Programs, Centers and Institutes.
Academic medicine has been identified nationally as having a high risk for issues and occurrences related to discrimination, inequity, and harassment to occur, according to a report published recently by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine.
“Addressing these issues starts with assembling a diverse leadership team which can help guide us through this process of making real substantive cultural changes. These new appointees will also provide strong academic and scientific leadership of the various programs and academic units within the UMSOM,” said Dean Reece, who is also Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, UM Baltimore, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor.
Dean Reece has now launched national leadership searches and executive leadership promotions, as part of the overall Cultural Transformation Initiative.
New Executive Promotions
Dean Reece announced the following promotions, effective immediately:
Louisa Peartree, MBA, who is currently Senior Associate Dean for Finance and Business Affairs, is promoted to Chief Operating Officer for the UMSOM. In her new role as Senior Associate Dean and Chief Operating Officer, Ms. Peartree will oversee and manage, along with her team, all of the operational, financial, facilities, and business affairs for the UMSOM.
Donna Parker, MD, who is currently Associate Dean for Student Affairs is promoted to Senior Associate Dean for Medical Educational Programs. Dr. Parker, who received her medical degree and post-graduate training at UM, will now oversee the Office of Student Affairs, the Office of Medical Education, the Office of Admissions, and the Office of Student Research, for the UMSOM. In her new role, she will provide leadership across all medical education initiatives, including planning and revision of the medical student curriculum. She will also continue her medical practice on a part-time basis as Associate Professor in Medicine.
Nancy Lowitt, MD, EdM, who is currently Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Chief Conflict of Interest Officer for the UMSOM, will now assume leadership for the new Program in Cultural Transformation. She will spearhead a steering committee charged with developing and implementing all aspects of the Cultural Transformation Program. Dr. Lowitt has already been involved in several initiatives designed to help women develop as leaders in the UMSOM. Over the past two years, she has led a series of leadership workshops for junior faculty and formed an informal working group for women faculty to discuss mentoring, work-life balance, caregiving and individual wellness.
Sandra Quezada, MD, MS, who is currently Interim Associate Dean for Admissions is now promoted to Associate Dean for Medical School Admissions, and serves as the senior admissions officer for the UMSOM. Dr. Quezada will continue her part-time medical practice as an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at UMSOM.
Mary Pooton, is promoted to Assistant Dean for Development. Ms. Pooton, who has been with the UM SOM’s Office of Development since 2005, will oversee and direct all of the operational and strategic initiatives for the UMSOM Development office.
Elizabeth Lamos, MD, is promoted to Assistant Dean for Student Affairs. She is currently serving on the staff of the UMSOM Office of Student Affairs, providing counseling and mentoring to medical students. She is also on the faculty in the Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology.
James Kaper, PhD, is now promoted to Vice Dean for Academic Affairs. As Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, he helped coordinate many of the existing cultural programs which helped women scientists advance in their careers. Notably, he provided academic leadership with a schoolwide team which resulted in an 8-year LCME accreditation for the UMSOM.
Addressing Need for Broad Cultural Changes
According to Dr. Lowitt, the new “Program in Cultural Transformation” will be developed as an academic program involving all of the departments of the UMSOM and in close collaboration with UMMC. As such, it will include a series of metrics-based initiatives to monitor progress and success in promoting leadership, professionalism, diversity, and a respectful and inclusive work environment.
Dr. Lowitt will be naming a steering committee to help guide the new Program. The Program will have particular emphasis on developing measurable initiatives and creating policies and expectations for professional conduct and consequences across the UMSOM.
“We know that our ability to provide high quality patient care, ensure patient safety, develop new devices and therapies, test new ideas, and teach our students and colleagues, depends on an environment and a culture defined by professionalism, respect and collaboration, and where all have the opportunity to contribute and to succeed,” Dr. Lowitt said.
A broad “Organizational Culture Scan,” conducted earlier this year by an outside consulting firm, examined the cultural climate of the UMSOM and UMMC. Key areas of focus included accountability, fair/respectful/inclusive work environment, retaliation and retribution, appreciation/ value, collaboration/ teamwork, communication. The independent evaluators found strengths and identified areas that could be improved.
As a result of this assessment, the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) and the UMSOM have collaborated over the past year to enact a series of initiatives to focus broadly on civil behavior, including the appreciation of and respect for and acceptance of others. There will be new policies and training on how to report instances of unethical and unprofessional behaviors, including sexual harassment and assault, discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin and sex. The UMSOM and UMMC are working closely with UMB’s Title IX Officer and a University Compliance Office on these initiatives.
Over the past year, under the leadership of Dr. Quezada, the SOM implemented training in "Unconscious Bias in Everyday Life" to help students, residents, faculty, and SOM leadership understand how unconscious bias might be impacting day to day decisions. The program now continues on a regular basis.
Supporting Women in Leadership Development and Advancement
In 2017, the SOM implemented a leadership development workshop series which targeted to faculty at the Associate Professor level, and another leadership development workshop series which targeted junior faculty. These workshops provided opportunities for participants to develop and practice their skills, and to take steps to becoming our next generation of leaders.
A number of women faculty leaders have also been working with Dr. Lowitt, to develop and implement new initiatives for faculty regarding work-life balance and resilience, mentorship for academic promotion, and the importance of individual wellness in a culture defined by caregiving.
Under the leadership of Associate Dean for Research Career Development, Wendy Sanders, MA, the UMSOM has begun a new Scientific Leadership & Professional Development Program for Faculty, with Special Emphasis on Women and other Minorities. This program emphasizes Diversity, Retention and Collaborative Skills. The program includes sessions on overcoming the challenges facing women and minorities as leaders, as well as providing a series of steps and strategies for leadership in a diverse scientific environment.
Collaborating on Cultural Improvements Underway at UM Medical Center
The UMSOM has also been collaborating with the UMMC on a number of culture initiatives. Earlier this year, a joint UMSOM/UMMC task force was formed to lead the efforts towards a culture transformation with the goal of improving communication, aligning processes, and allowing for great employee empowerment across the two institutions.
- The “Just Culture” Initiative is a metrics-based approach to balance organizational and individual accountability while maintaining a continuous learning environment. The initiative includes mandatory intensive training at all levels of the institution’s leadership with specific algorithms in place to measure effectiveness.
- The UMMC Professionalism Enhancement Initiative was formed in 2016 to focus attention on achieving rapid follow-up of reported professionalism concerns. The initiative provides easy, confidential and safe online reporting of any incidents of professional misconduct.
“Our goal is to unify all of these new and existing initiatives and make the implementation and measurement of these as high a strategic priority as we set for our other mission areas,” Dean Reece said. “In doing so, we will truly change the culture across our institution. We want everyone in our environment to feel supported and confident, and to feel free to report untoward conduct without fear of reprisals. To this end, we hope to serve as a national model for others in academic medicine.”
About the University of Maryland School of Medicine
Now in its third century, the University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 as the first public medical school in the United States. It continues today as one of the fastest growing, top-tier biomedical research enterprises in the world -- with 43 academic departments, centers, institutes, and programs; and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians, scientists, and allied health professionals, including members of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and a distinguished recipient of the Albert E. Laser Award in Medical Research. With an operating budget of more than $1 billion, the School of Medicine works closely in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide research-intensive, academic and clinically-based care for more than 1.2 million patients each year. The School has over 2,500 students, residents, and fellows, and more than $530 million in extramural funding, with most of its academic departments highly ranked among all medical schools in the nation in research funding. As one of the seven professional schools that make up the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine has a total workforce of nearly 7,000 individuals. The combined School and Medical System (“University of Maryland Medicine”) has an annual budget of nearly $6 billion and an economic impact more than $15 billion on the state and local community. The School of Medicine faculty, which ranks as the 8th highest among public medical schools in research productivity, is an innovator in translational medicine, with 600 active patents and 24 start-up companies. The School works locally, nationally, and globally, with research and treatment facilities in 36 countries around the world. Visit medschool.umaryland.edu/