Leadership program gives junior faculty new skill set

By Lin Lofley

UT Southwestern Medical Center is offering junior faculty a chance to hone their management skills through the new Leadership Emerging in Academic Departments (LEAD) Program.

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Leadership Program roster

The 32 participants in the inaugural class, selected from 83 applicants, are all Assistant Professors or Associate Professors with limited or no leadership role. Twenty-six class members are from clinical departments, with the remainder representing basic science departments.

“This course is our attempt to recognize developing faculty leaders,” said Dr. Byron Cryer, Associate Dean for Faculty Diversity and Development and a Program Director for LEAD. “We need to identify this new cohort of leaders so that when opportunities for leadership roles become available, we know who we have on the faculty and who can move up.”

LEAD Program class
Dr. Helen Yin (right) concludes a recent meeting of the LEAD Program at which Dr. Celette Skinner (seated), Professor of Clinical Sciences and in the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, was the featured speaker. Thirty-two UT Southwestern faculty members were selected for the inaugural class.

Participants in the yearlong course, which began in February, meet monthly for classes on topics such as self-discovery, communication, and influence, leading up to a capstone project designed to demonstrate what they’ve learned and to provide a benefit to UT Southwestern.

Dr. Jenny Hsieh, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology, said she was excited for the opportunity that LEAD aims to provide: “There are so many business variables to what we do now that we have to figure out how to administer our affairs – in my case, a laboratory – in a businesslike manner.

“I have found that when you have a lab, and you start receiving funding, it always seems like a lot of money. But the money is quickly spent, and you have to maximize return on investment.”

Representing 14 clinical and basic research departments, members of the inaugural class will have a chance to get to know faculty members outside their own areas of expertise.

“This is a great opportunity to meet a diverse, enthusiastic, and interesting group of people who are facing somewhat similar challenges,” said Dr. Daniel Costa, Assistant Professor of Radiology, who also has an appointment in the Advanced Imaging Research Center. “It’s a chance to be introduced to the skills required to become an efficient leader.”

Dr. Carrie McAdams, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, said she expects to get a better sense of how the administrative side of medical science works through the program.

“Everything is becoming more business-oriented, but I’m a neuroscientist and a psychiatrist. My training is not really related to managing groups of people. LEAD will fill that gap for me,” Dr. McAdams said.

“This is an exciting and unique time in the life of this institution, where we have the opportunity to build upon our historic strengths in research and education and to do things differently,” Dr. Greg Fitz, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Provost, and Dean of the Medical School, told the participants. “For example, there will be incredible opportunities for applying scientific discoveries to improve patient care and for creating special programs in the new William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital. 

“The scientific foundations of medicine matter. We need a next generation of leaders with the skills and creativity to look around the corner into the future.”

Dr. Helen Yin, Assistant Dean for the Office of Women’s Careers, is Program Director for LEAD with Dr. Cryer. Program Co-Directors are Dr. William Behrendt, Vice President for Human Resources, and Dr. Suzanne Farmer, Assistant Vice President for Organizational Development and Training in the Department of Human Resources.


Dr. Cryer holds the John C. Vanatta III Professorship.

Dr. Fitz holds the Nadine and Tom Craddick Distinguished Chair in Medical Science, and the Atticus James Gill, M.D. Chair in Medical Science.

Dr. Yin holds the Peter and Jean D. Dehlinger Professorship in Biomedical Science.