How can we fully tap the potential of our faculty and find that academic sweet spot?

Valerie Williams, Ph.D., vice provost for academic affairs and faculty development, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, says we need to learn how to take full advantage of faculty and staff.


The thought that keeps me up at night is probably that we're not using people's time effectively. Not just individual people, but thinking about the synergy that gets created when we bring the right people together.

Our universities without the people, the faculty, the staff, the students are really just a collection of buildings and equipment and material supplies. The people who are there are the ones who make all of this work. The faculty are incredibly dedicated people. They've made a commitment beyond just being practitioners within their own field. They've decided to come back and share that knowledge with learners.

I think we've got extraordinary potential, and the thought that we might be wasting any of that really does break my heart.

When you work in an environment like academic medicine, we have so many capable individuals, and you think about what they could do if you could get the right folks at the table at the right time to look at the kinds of problems we're facing. I think the solutions are out there. But we have to talk to each other. We have to build that shared knowledge based. We have to have that ability to catalyze one another's thinking to actually get these problems solved.

There's a saying in the medical school community that when you look at one medical school, you're looking at one school because they're all very unique. I believe that we are all very unique. But I also think that among us we have such common purpose that we really should be thinking about the things where we are catalysts for something together.

It's up to us to think about how to push the frontier about healthcare for people in the United States. So that's not about us just being unique. That's about us using our uniqueness to forge something better and stronger, and I think we've certainly got the capacity to do that.