Proceedings of the Harvard Medical School Faculty Council, February 15, 2012

Dean of the Faculty of Medicine Jeffrey S. Flier began the meeting by noting an HMS Foundation Funds flyer included with the meeting agenda, which outlined the availability of fellowships and grants to junior faculty and postdoctoral fellows through the HMS Foundation Funds. He asked council members to encourage faculty and postdoctoral fellows to consider these opportunities.  

Fiona Fennessy, co-chair of the Joint Committee on the Status of Women (JCSW) and HMS assistant professor of radiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital introduced the work of the JCSW and presented the FY 2012 JCSW Strategic Plan. She noted that the JCSW was established in 1973 as a standing committee of the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and that it represents a constituency of women and men faculty, fellows, residents, students and staff at HMS and HSDM, and the faculty of affiliated hospitals and institutions. She said that the committee’s mission is to facilitate and enhance the contribution of women faculty and staff at HMS and HSDM by expanding and enhancing opportunities for leadership and advancement.

Fennessy discussed priority areas in the JCSW strategic plan, including organizational efficiency and institutional memory, and career satisfaction and advocacy. Within the category of organizational efficiency and institutional memory, she outlined initiatives to revise the organization’s committee structure, to introduce online membership forms, to reach out to external women’s groups and to develop the committee’s website.  In the area of career satisfaction and advocacy, Fennessy reported that the committee supports the creation of the Consortium of Harvard Affiliates for Child Care, the formation of a network of family childcare providers and the development of a mentoring plan with the Dean for Diversity and Community Partnerships.  A general discussion followed.

Ombudsperson Melissa Brodrick was introduced to share the annual Ombuds Office report. She began with a brief overview of the role of her office as a highly confidential, independent and informal forum in which any faculty, staff, student or trainee may raise concerns that may be affecting their work or studies. Brodrick said that she helps visitors to clarify their issues and goals and consider their options as they make choices for themselves about their next steps. She provides conflict coaching, informal mediation, group facilitation, shuttle diplomacy and information about resources and formal policies and procedures available. She also provides proactive trainings in the areas of negotiation skills, managing conflict in the workplace, addressing authorship disputes and being an effective mentee, among others.

Brodrick shared information about the general demographics of those visiting the Ombuds Office and the kinds of issues they self-report.  Self-reported issues include those related to career management, research, work/academic environment, sexual harassment, discrimination, fair treatment and interpersonal dynamics.  She noted an increase in people engaging in informal mediation and group facilitation and a high volume of training requests, and expects a substantial increase from the 35 training sessions provided to the schools and affiliates in the past year.

Dean Flier then introduced Sheila Barnett, vice chair of the council and HMS associate professor of anaesthesia at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, who reported on the results of the election of the council’s vice chair-elect.  Barnett announced that Susan Block, professor of psychiatry at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, was elected vice chair-elect.  Barnett also thanked Robert Fuhlbrigge, associate professor of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Boston and associate professor of dermatology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital for his ongoing contributions to the Faculty Council.  Dean Flier congratulated Block and thanked Fuhlbrigge for his demonstrated interest in this leadership position.

Dean Flier introduced Eliza Menninger, president of the HMS Aesculapian Club and HMS assistant professor of psychiatry at McLean Hospital, who outlined the history of the Aesculapian Club, which was founded in 1902 by Townsend Thorndike to “undertake active work for the interests of the School,” to recreate the good fellowship of college life and to improve instruction by reporting student observations to the faculty.  She noted that membership includes students and faculty members.  Student nominations are coordinated through the Office of Student Affairs and there is no formal nomination process for faculty.  

Menninger reported that the club’s goals are to encourage a spirit of sociability, to promote active interest in the affairs of the School and to increase faculty membership.  She said that the faculty obligation includes annual dues of $100.00 to support the club’s projects and events. Following a general discussion, Dean Flier remarked that the Dean’s Office would distribute the club’s contact information to council members.

Dean Flier adjourned the meeting.