A Joint Conversation with Chancellor Washington, Dean Broome and Provost Kornbluth


As part of a comprehensive strategic planning process that involved diverse groups of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and donors from across the university and medical enterprise, the name Duke Medicine is changing to Duke Health, Chancellor A. Eugene Washington, MD, MSc, announced in January. “The decision to update our name stems from widespread deliberations involving many groups within Duke, and signals the health system’s renewed focus on health improvement,” said Chancellor Washington. “Duke Health signals our intention to explore more comprehensive approaches to health that extend beyond medical care and into other areas of population health improvement. Duke Health also represents a more inclusive and synergistic approach to maximizing contributions to health improvement from the diverse array of disciplines and schools that comprise Duke University, as well as our external partners.”

When you think about aligning resources and creating synergies, what do you see as the major challenges for each area over the next three to five years?

Provost Kornbluth: I think the most important thing is to keep increasing faculty excellence. This means putting infrastructure and tools in the hands of the faculty to help them get the best out of their work, and offering the kind of mentoring and professional development that will enable them to be their best.

Chancellor Washington: Institutionally we’re quite vertical. Whether we’re in a nursing school or whether we’re in Trinity College, we’re vertical. So what we’re talking about in terms of drawing on the assets of Duke is actually being more horizontal. One of the significant challenges is getting our faculty, as collaborative and collegial as we are, working in groups in a more horizontal way. To overcome these barriers we need to show examples of where we’re already succeeding, and other areas that are ripe for some early victories.

As you bring these various perspectives together to create energy around this interdisciplinary work, how do you ensure that you’re getting the right people around the table?

Provost Kornbluth: We all took a very broad catchment area and opportunity for faculty involvement. On the campus side, we did this through many, many open faculty dinners. Anybody could give input— faculty, students, and staff—and that continues.

Chancellor Washington: In Duke Health, we similarly started with focus groups and then we eventually established working groups in each of the core mission areas: education, research, community health improvement, global health, and clinical care. But we didn’t feel that was enough. Based on input and the work of those small groups we developed a survey that went out to all 32,000 people in Duke Health. The response rate was encouraging. Over 10,000 individuals responded, and over 2,000 wrote written comments. I agree with Sally, the process from our perspective was as important as the outcome, because we tapped into the voices all across the organization—that’s where our talent, our greatest asset is.

Did you feel like you got a mandate, a clear directive?

Dean Broome: In education, I was amazed at how quickly people came to the priorities and what was important. There were fascinating discussions that I think influenced all of us in that room. We got a lot of diverse perspectives, but in some magical way it all came together around interdisciplinary education and professional development.

Chancellor Washington: Each of these groups developed a mission statement. And I can tell you they labored over every word. In fact, the education group labored over whether we are about education or learning. It was a rich discussion. I actually went to the dictionary to make the distinction. There was a true distinction, and it’s reflected in the overarching vision statement and the goals.

Read the full article on the Duke University School of Nursing website.