Drive to 25 metrics, health care placements, inter-professional collaborations, nursing’s visibility, diversity, and marijuana research


Q: When will you publish the metrics for the Drive to 25?

Kirk Schulz: November. My November letter to the campus community will have those metrics. If I claim that somehow we’re going to take all this feedback and use that to make adjustments and then put it out next week, you go, ‘Well, you didn’t really have any time to look at the feedback, so how could you really evaluate it?‘ So, I think we’ve got a pretty decent consensus among the leadership team, but we’re really waiting to hear what the feedback is, and there may be some stuff that we look at and go, ‘We didn’t even think about this. This needs to be part of it.’

The other thing I want to mention is we’ll pick ten metrics, or nine, whatever the number is. That doesn’t mean that we go to 2030 before looking and evaluating and changing any of those. I found in my previous institution that about every three to four years you need to have a comprehensive review. Are they the right metrics to be looking at now?

For example, at K-State we had number of members in national academies as one of our metrics. I met with the deans and I said, ‘If I gave you all a million dollars, what would you spend it on?’ And we went all the way around and nobody said hiring national academy members. So we pulled it off the list, because nobody wanted to really invest dollars in that. And it made no sense to keep putting that out there as an institutional metric if we weren’t putting money, time, and effort into those particular areas.

So, I just want everybody to remember, we’ll put them out, some people go, ‘Oh, you got it right.’ Some people say, ‘You’ve missed some stuff.’ But I think after three or four years we need to go back and say, ‘Hey, do we still have the right nine or ten metrics at this institutional level?’ We need to elevate others from this strategic plan, or drop some others down. I think that’ll be dialogue and discussion that I’ll look forward to having.

Q: With a med school coming here as well as the partnership with the Gonzaga and UW med school, we’re having increased placement challenges. I’m wondering what’s happening at the university level to ensure equitable placement opportunities for both programs in terms of engaging other health care organizations with both programs?

KS: I have absolutely no idea. You should ask the president, maybe he’ll know.


That’s a conversation my wife and I have frequently. Dan, do you want to try and answer that a little bit?

Dan Bernardo: Well, I think the deans are actively engaged, obviously, as a group and independently. Not only with themselves, but also with our external relations team to try to drive placements as well. We had some interesting discussions with your leadership team, and I think there are some good ideas about how to drive placements in an interdisciplinary context. So that we’re not out there with the nursing dean trying to drive placements, the med school dean trying to drive placements. We have a unique opportunity, I think, here with the med school that is a startup. And we need to take advantage of that to help with placements for all of our health care disciplines. They can help, not necessarily lead, but they’re the new kid on the block and the one with all of the glow, if you will, and we need to take advantage of that glow, I think. So hopefully that helps.

KS: I would also say that Lisa, in her role as chancellor, that’s the type of thing that is almost not dependent on a program, and that’s something we know we just need to be doing. Part of our discussion, as Dan mentioned, with your leadership team in the College of Nursing, was everybody identifies that as an issue. What are some creative solutions that we can start looking at? I’m happy to go out and meet with any political folks or hospital administrators or all those kinds of things. So as you all have suggestions on this, we need to hear them because it’s obviously going to be a struggle as we kind of grow all of this stuff across the state, making sure those placements are there as an important part of our education program. So we want ideas here.

Q: Building on that, the importance of inter-professional collaborations, which our dean is emphasizing—nursing has such a critical role in that. When we’re talking about placements, that equitable placement is also strategic placement to be sure that we’re really building that inter-professional capacity. And we have such a potential on this campus. We put out 416 graduates from the nursing program this last year. We have a huge impact on helping the public. However you can help us both elevate and recognize that and move forward the importance of this inter-professional collaboration. That’s how we’re going to impact public health, and all health care is really to improve health outcomes. So many people are contributing to that, but a lot of it, the placement is there. If we’re not getting people out equitably and people recognizing how all the professions are important and that’s part of it—so hopefully we get better.

KS: I appreciate that, and I think if we can’t figure out how to do this better with us starting a medical school from scratch as opposed to, for example, a well established, long-term medical school with huge walls built up between those different disciplines . . . To me, we’re in a unique position, nationally, to really be in the right place at the right time. My issue with us starting a new medical school has not been whether that’s a good idea, it’s always can we be strategic and not just grow something like everybody else, has but actually make sure that we are being mindful of doing things on the research side, on the teaching side, that optimize what we can do here as opposed to simply putting together a new entity that produces more and more doctors which are needed—but I want us to continue to really focus on some of these items.

Q: So now that you’ve had a chance to kind of come and meet all of us in the College of Nursing and get a better understanding of what nursing is all about, I’m wondering how we might continue to make ourselves visible to you so that we are not continuing to be the hidden jewel here on campus and in Tri-Cities and Yakima. So that we are in the newsletter, that we are on your cards, ’cause I didn’t find one in this packet . . .

KS: There is one, right? All right, cool.


Q: . . . So that we are really visible at that level of the College of Medicine and College of Pharmacy. We are equal members in the health sciences and sometimes I don’t see us being advertised as such in the WSU emails. So I just want to know how you might be able to increase our visibility so that we are not forgotten.

KS: There are a couple of things. As a new person coming in, I am just very unaware of a lot of what happens at the University. We’re a big, complex, billion-dollar-a-year operation. So one of the things we started is each dean does a monthly summary of what happens in their college—students, staff, accomplishments, anything they want Dan and I and Chris Keane to be aware of. We get these sort of one to two-pagers each month that gives us some sense of what’s going on and allows me to feel a little more connected about achievements and things that occur.

I have advertised this at each town hall: As you all have success, as you have certain things that you think are really important, do not hesitate to email us. I get all kinds of complaint emails; it’s nice when I get one that somebody says, ‘Hey Kirk, you might not have known about this, we had a student do this, one of my faculty colleagues won this award, or we just had a successful grant.’ Trust me, we love getting those kinds of things ’cause it’s part of why we do what we do. So everybody in the room, don’t hesitate to reach out. Don’t ever go, ‘Oh gee, I’m sure they don’t care about it,’ or ‘They are not going to want to see my e-mail.’ No, send us the information, be assertive, push it forward, and that’s what we need.

And then I’ve made a commitment, personally, to be on this campus quarterly. That’s to see and visit with you all, to visit with pharmacy, to visit with medicine, and just be more visible. I think by being here more often I also get to know more of what you are doing ’cause I get to walk in and see some things as opposed to doing it all electronically. Dan, do you have anything else?

DB: It’s a good question, and my flippant response is that you have met your dean, right?


It’s important to have a dean that actively speaks out for the college, and Joyce is that. She brings that ability, so I think that’s important. Share your accomplishments, as Kirk said. I think that’s evolving because the college is evolving, and evolving in the way that’s going to get more attention. Your primary mission has always been and will always be to produce great nursing professionals of all types, size, shapes, degrees, whatever. There are a lot of different degrees. But in a research-intensive university, research matters, too, and it probably gets more of the airtime because, well, it’s not the money, because research actually costs more money than teaching. If you see the graphs, teaching is where the money is at.

But research generates recognition and event, right? A grant achieved, a discovery, etc. And as the colleges become more research active, it definitely has gotten more of that play. And I’m not discounting the importance of what many people in the room do as their primary mission, but I think if you look at the college 10 years ago, it just didn’t have the research to elevate itself. And also the med school gets a lot of the air in the room right now. We get that. I get that. And that’ll die down a little bit too. So I hope it’s an all boats rise thing.

Q: I had a question about diversifying our staff and faculty. I wondered if there’s data support that there are issues in hiring or in retention, if you look at that per college as well as per geographical region, and where the problems may be. Thanks.

KS: I think it’s a great point. We’ve got a lot of work to do in this particular area. Dan’s got some statistics and successes he can share, but I really want to start a campus-wide dialogue. We’ve got to get some data and we’ve got to get some information. I think we have to look at best practices on what’s worked in some other institutions. There’s no reason that we always have to re-invent the wheel. There’s an excellent article that was in the Chronicle of Higher Education, I know everybody in here reads that religiously . . .


. . . about a week or two ago that talked about growing the number of underrepresented faculty in STEM fields at Montana State University. The president there, Waded Cruzado, put some things in place to kind of help that, and four or five years later, they’ve had some pretty notable success in a (geographic) area where a lot of people like to go on vacation but don’t necessarily want to move to as full-time professionals. So they did some cool stuff around the interviewing.

As I mentioned in one of our other town hall forums, at one of my previous institutions, we talked about how we couldn’t hire these underrepresented minority faculty at all. They just weren’t available blah, blah, blah. You’ve heard the same kind of things. Then what happened is the president put together a fund that said if you’re doing a search and you find an underrepresented minority faculty member as part of that search, we’ll give you another faculty position. It was amazing the number of search committees that found somebody.


So what that tells me is we’ve got to find positive ways to incent people to want to go out there and work hard. I found search committees when they say, ‘Hey, maybe we’ve got a department of 11 and we could be at 13 all of a sudden if we can be aggressive.’ It was amazing what people could do. I just want to have some campus dialogue about what works, what doesn’t work, what hang-ups we have in place, what barriers there are. There’s no switch that we throw that all of a sudden changes this overnight, but we’re never going to make the progress we would like if we sort of keep doing what we’re doing now, is my opinion. Dan, do you want to talk a little bit about this?

DB: I think the answer to your question, Julie, is that it’s pervasive everywhere. Just about all colleges, all locations, certainly there are more successes in particular units or locations, and the common denominator, as Kirk said, is really those that really make it a priority have been able to move the dial. Recently, as an example, we’ve done pretty well, and I’ve been looking forward to seeing the statistics on women in STEM—in recruiting women faculty in STEM fields. There are a few things that might have helped there. Certainly it’s deans and chairs that care about that. Certainly, our partner accommodation policy has helped. We’ve doubled the funds there. That has helped. The other thing that seems to have helped is a lot of deans, when they do a search, they find a couple people and they like twofers off of a notice of vacancy. They know if they bring two white guys, so to speak, that’s not going to fly. That, I think, has sort of been an informal way of helping us diversify some.

Our ADVANCE grant has helped, and we’ve continued our ADVANCE grant funding. The NSF funding is going away, but we still are putting a significant amount of money into ADVANCE, which is literally focused in women in STEM. I think we’re starting to move the dial there, and I think we need to broaden the focus a little bit more to focus on faculty of color. Those of you who are from underrepresented groups, I know you feel this. I hear it regularly, because when you have 35 percent of your students who are minority students and you have 5-10 percent of your faculty who are minority, guess what happens? The students naturally gravitate to the faculty of their ethnic origin, and that’s great. That’s what we’re all here for. But we need more faculty, because we are putting the burden on our minority faculty right now.

KS: And staff.

DB: And staff.

Q: I’ve had the great opportunity to work with other substance abuse researchers across all of the colleges at WSU. And one thing that we’re really being catapulted into is marijuana research. We are in this unique position along with Colorado to really address this public health concern. So I’m wondering if there are any future resources that you foresee that will be available for us to really become a national leader in marijuana research?

DB: That’s a presidential budget issue.

KS: Yeah, thank you.


KS: You know, I came from a state that was a little less politically progressive than this one. The whole idea of marijuana research just sent shudders up my spine, thinking about it.


I’m flipping that around, though. I do think the state has seen significant tax revenues from doing that, and I’ve spoken to a couple of our elected officials that help put that in place, and there is some interest in the public health aspects of increased marijuana use. So I think we are probably really well positioned to do that, and we just need to make sure that as those things come up that we don’t concede this space to our colleagues on the west side.

KS: There will be opportunities, I think, out there, and we need to make sure that we’re aware of what you all are doing as faculty that you think fit those things. So that if I see those or Dan sees those or government relations folks see them, that they immediately bring us into the loop on planning.

DB: Our vice president for external affairs and government affairs, Colleen Kerr, is very high on this topic—excuse the pun. And I think she is actively looking for those funding opportunities. It’s where you work and your colleagues work where the opportunities are. When we were going through the legalization argument and people were talking about research, they kept wanting to go to the production side. And you know, I was dean of CAHNRS at the time, and I kept pushing them away because that had serious impacts on federal funding.

I grew up in the coast of California. It’s really easy to grow, and it grows wild, so that’s not where the action is. The action for society is on the negative externalities of this policy and the addiction. So I think that’s where we need to focus our attention.

KS: We appreciate your time and great questions, and we look forward to continuing to support this college as you all do great things educating the future of the nursing profession. Thank you, and Go Cougs.