Upon being appointed dean of ECU’s Brody School of Medicine, Dr. Mark Stacy did something unprecedented.
He challenged the medical school’s staff to help “Build a Better Brody” and announced he would dedicate a portion of his $7 million start-up package to fund initiatives that the staff members felt would improve the experience of working at Brody.
A pair of solar tables recently installed outside of the Brody School of Medicine at ECU. (Photo by Rhett Butler)
The call for proposals yielded 32 requests for funding from staffers, totaling more than $1 million. Of this total, more than $334,000 was awarded to 14 separate proposals.
This was the first time a Brody dean set aside budget for funding suggestions from staff, according to Gary Vanderpool, executive associate vice chancellor for health sciences administration and finance.
“Initially, the dean had set aside $100,000. And when all of these proposals came through, there was the belief that there was more than $100,000 worth of good projects in here. So that amount actually tripled,” Vanderpool said.
In addition to the staff initiatives, Stacy approved another $2.6 million to fund proposals from Brody faculty members.
As the upgrades were completed throughout the spring, Stacy said it was exciting to see people enjoying the new spaces.
“It does make a difference,” Stacy said of the investment into faculty and staff initiatives. “I like seeing people having lunch together in a setting that they can kind of claim as their own. And that was the point of this; we all want to have a voice in this great school.”
When Stacy’s challenge to “Build a Better Brody” went out, a group of four staffers –Eddie Johnson, assistant director of the Office of Prospective Health; John Gill, director of Grounds Services; Chad Carwein, ECU’s sustainability manager; and Terry Little, ECU’s recycling coordinator – pooled their opinions to suggest something that could benefit everyone who visits Brody, not just the students and staff.
The area that stuck out to them the most was the courtyard between Brody Commons and the Leo Jenkins Cancer Center.
“We come through this area a lot, because our bookstore is right here and there are a lot of events going on in the auditorium. We see students and staff having lunch out here, but we thought it was an area that needed improvement,” Johnson said. “It needed to be revitalized and we just wanted to improve the conditions to improve its sustainability and help make it nicer, safer and more of a focal point for Brody, an area where people will want to come to spend time or take pictures after events.”
The staffers’ $91,500 project, the largest of the approved projects, included some cosmetic improvements, such as pressure washing rust stains and dirt off the buildings and removing parasitic mistletoe from the still vibrant river birch, which was planted in the courtyard in 1994.
However, the most significant changes were the installation of more permanent features, such as new U-shaped bike racks, new plants and perennial flowers, new recycling containers, new pervious pavers to cover the muddy grass area around the tree, new LED light fixtures and the pièce de résistance: a pair of café-style solar tables with lighting and charging stations for cell phones and laptops.
“The dean’s funding was a really gracious thing,” Johnson said. “We have a beautiful campus already. Our grounds and facilities guys do a great job. But to have upper management support to improve things makes us feel great. We’re just thankful that we actually got this project approved because it’s going to benefit a lot of folks – visitors, staff, faculty and students – and that’s why we’re here, to support them.”
Heather Garrett-Starkie, left, and Deborah Hall, both faculty employment managers in Health Sciences Human Resources, utilize the newly furnished walkway connecting the Brody School of Medicine and the Warren Life Sciences Building. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)
Not every improvement cost thousands of dollars, however.
Staff in the Health Sciences Human Resources and Brody School of Medicine Faculty Employment Office thought it would be nice to have a sunlit area to sit in during breaks or lunch.
“We’re located right around the corner from the second-floor breezeway between Brody and the Warren Life Sciences Building. It’s a very nice well-lit area, but there was no place to sit,” said Rhonda Nord, the office’s faculty employment manager and business officer. “There is a lounge on the second floor, but the TV is always going and there’s not much sunlight.”
So Nord requested $9,250 to purchase benches for the breezeway, to give people a quieter place to retreat to and take in some sunlight.
The proposal for the benches was approved, but when new furniture was purchased for the Brody lobby, plans changed in a way that made everyone happy while saving thousands of dollars.
“The main thing for us was getting benches; we didn’t care where they came from. So when they were replacing the benches on the first floor, we were able to get them brought up here,” Nord said. “I think this whole initiative was great. It gave us an opportunity to obtain something we would otherwise not have been able to. It makes us feel valued and appreciated.”