Steering Committee guides University to the future

If OUM was a ship, the Steering Committee would be its rudder and compass. For nearly a decade, the Steering Committee has guided the University through sometimes choppy waters to what it has become today and to where it is headed in the future.

Following the first article in this series on OUM’s governance—the Chancellery—which ran in December’s OUM News, this article describes the Steering Committee, fittingly, in the members’ own words, to provide a glimpse of the variety of perspectives that shape OUM’s trajectory.

Taffy Gould, OUM Founder and Chairman

“I established the Steering Committee in 2012 in order to gain input from all sectors of OUM and from a wide variety of geographic locations, and it has proven invaluable to me to hear the opinions and advice from its 15 members.

“I consider the fact that we often have long discussions, with differing opinions voiced, to be one of the Committee’s great strengths. We then feel confident in our final, agreed-upon actions that on major policy decisions are forwarded to the Academic Board and, ultimately, to the OUM Council for approval.

“I feel a deep sense of gratitude to the Steering Committee members, who take their role seriously and share the common goal of making OUM better and helping our students to succeed.”

Dr. Chris May, Chancellor

“The Steering Committee is the engine room of OUM. Everyone contributes and assists with solving issues in real time which gives OUM a tremendous advantage over more traditional teaching institutions.”

Toleafoa Dr. Viali Lameko, Vice Chancellor

“Consistent with OUM’s mission ‘to help qualified individuals overcome distance, personal, and professional barriers to become highly trained physicians…with the requisite knowledge, skills, and attitudes to care for patients,’ the Steering Committee ensures that challenges and opportunities facing the University are addressed in a thoughtful manner, consistent with our strategic plan.”

Dr. Randell Brown, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Vice Chancellor Designate

“The Steering Committee is an excellent representation of the University. The majority of our members are teaching faculty, so we’re able to bring to the table our perspectives from the classroom and the clinics. The administrators who also work closely with students bring those unique views into the conversation. Collectively, we can make informed decisions with the best interests of the University in mind.”

Chris Dudley, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Administration & Student Affairs

“Decision making by committee sometimes can be messy in the business world. However, it works at OUM. The Steering Committee exists to address threats and opportunities from the external environment as well as the strengths and weaknesses from within [as in a SWOT analysis] in order to ensure the University’s success through a deliberative strategic planning process, which is essential for the institution’s well-being and its continued accreditation.”

Professor Hugh Bartholomeusz, Dean for Australia and Deputy Vice Chancellor Designate

“I believe that the Steering Committee fulfils two functions. These are communication between OUM leaders and the discussion of university-wide policy. For me, I am able to communicate the initiatives being progressed within the Australian student and staff population, to enable University leaders to understand the unique problems faced within Australia and the solutions offered.”

Greg Beber, Chief Information Officer, General Counsel, and Vice Chairman of the OUM Council

“The Steering Committee is there to make sure every department is represented whenever matters of consequence are discussed at OUM. The Steering Committee is an invaluable forum where faculty, staff, administration, and leadership offer their insights and contribute in a meaningful way to the stewardship and direction of the University.”

Dr. Paula Diamante, Director of Faculty Affairs and Lead Clinical Course Director

“An education program is never finished or complete. As the world changes, people develop, technology advances, and information is updated, having a diverse committee consisting of knowledgeable educators putting their thoughts together for perpetual growth is essential. It is crucial, especially as an international university that we have this heterogeneous collection of skilled people to listen and share with each other to collectively move forward for the benefit of all students.”

Dr. Scott Cunningham, Director of Curriculum

“Given the many challenges of a global administration & faculty, I consider the Steering Committee essential for day-to-day maintenance of the University, as well as ongoing improvement. The Steering Committee unifies and coordinates the efforts of the individual members and prevents the members from being uninformed or misinformed about important issues.”

Professor C.S. Benjamin, Dean for New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific

“Steering Committee is the back bone of OUM. We are able to meet twice a month and discuss different issues. We are able to listen to different points of view and get consensus on important issues. It is a privilege to be part of it.”

Dr. Sarmad Ghazi, Dean for North America

“Steering Committee plays a key role in OUM growth and development, from providing strategic and policy guidance to reviewing the operations, partnership proposals, and maintaining school performance with its annual and long-term strategic plans.”

Dr. Diamante

“Students often have the idea that there is ‘a person’ writing the rules or an individual who can adjust their requirements for them on an individual basis. This is simply not the case. There is a governing body that shares their knowledge and experience, that discusses every change from class times to curriculum content and beyond.”

Professor Brown, who also chairs the Academic Board

“The mechanics of how the Steering Committee works is that each key area of the University gives a report of activities and challenges in their area at each meeting.

“As major policies are considered, members of the Steering Committee write resolutions which are discussed at three different meetings to ensure that everyone has adequate opportunity to provide their input. When everyone’s perspectives have been considered, the Steering Committee votes on the proposal and if approved, the resolution is forwarded to the Academic Board for further consideration. Upon approval by the Academic Board, the resolution goes to the OUM Council for ratification.

“All admissions, academic, and student affairs policies that appear in the University Catalogue, Student Handbook, and Faculty Manual have undergone this process.”

Joy Braun, Associate Director for Administration, Registrar & Bursar

“The Steering Committee brings concepts from all corners of OUM to the table for discussion and review for the growth of one idea to the University as a whole. The Committee represents all aspects of the University and guides its future.

“Each member of the Steering Committee is valuable and contributes from his/her unique experience, education, and viewpoint. It is an honor to be a member of the Committee, to have an influence on the direction of OUM and its future.”

Dr. Daria Camera, Director of Research

“For me personally, the Steering Committee is the behind the scenes of OUM. It is integral in ensuring that OUM not only delivers quality medical education but also continues to improve and continues to lead the way.

“What I found most important for me, or the aspect that I enjoy the most, is the constant discussions on ways in which OUM can improve and better serve the students and faculty. The enthusiasm and proactivity is one aspect that I think really makes the Steering Committee stand out.”

Joe Korac, General Manager for Australia-New Zealand

“Serving on the Steering Committee means a great deal to me. It keeps me informed and gives me a chance to evaluate changes and ideas. Keeps me updated on all the key areas of the school, where we are up to and how we are progressing. How leadership is thinking about the present and future. The direction we are heading.

“I try and look at proposed changes from a student’s perspective and how it may impact them. It gives me a chance to see the progress OUM is making in real time. It is critical for me to do my job at the highest standard.”

Else Talbot, Head Librarian

“For me it’s a great way of keeping everyone up with changes, possible issues in other sections and departments that may impact more widely. Especially good as staff (in addition to students) are spread across the globe and tend to work within their own little bubbles. Reduces the isolation of working alone physically.”

Greg Beber

“Students and faculty should know how privileged every member of the Steering Committee feels to be serving the OUM community, and how seriously we take our responsibility to ensure that every constituent of the University is represented, valued, and considered in every decision we make.”

Dr. Camera

“I have been on numerous University planning committees, and there are a lot of discussions, but not a lot of action. What I love with our Steering Committee, is we discuss but then take action. It is what makes our University so dynamic and innovative.”

Dr. Ghazi

“Students and faculty may be surprised to know how much work goes on behind the scenes in the Steering Committee meeting where projects, proposals, and data are being discussed around the clock. Each member is contributing from their wealth of experience in a democratic environment to safeguard the future of the school and the MD program.”

Dr. Diamante

“The day I received an email, inviting me to join the Steering Committee, I shared it proudly with my family, and I wished at that moment that my dad was alive to see it. I am overwhelmingly proud to be a part of this distinguished Committee, and grateful that they allow me the opportunity to contribute. I know that’s mushy, but it’s the truth.”

(February 2021)