The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Tuesday, April 20, 2010 - 7A
The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Tuesday, April 20, 2010 - 7A
From Page 1A
In the chain of command, Pesco-
vitz ranks at the same level as the
University's Provost Teresa Sul-
livan and the University's Chief
Financial Officer Timothy Slottow
- all three of whom report directly
to University President Mary Sue
And though she's been in her
post for less than a year, having
joined the University last May,
Pescovitz has big plans to make the
University's Health System the best
in the nation.
Raising the bar at a health system
already recognized as one of the top
15 in the nation is obviously a tall
order. Despite the daunting nature
of this challenge, its something that
Pescovitz says she's determined to
"I'm too young and too ener-
getic - not that young to you - to
come to a place like this in a job like
this to be a caretaker," Pescovitz
explained. "It's a great place and I
came because it was a great place,
but I didn't come to keep it static."
Through a series of strategic
planning meetings with many of
her direct reports, Pescovitz has
refined her vision.
"I am the kind of person who
always seeks to raise the bar and
I always like to look for the next
challenge for the institution, so I
have set a challenge for the health
system," Pescovitz said.
Specifically, Pescovitz is deter-
mined to make the University
Health System the bestinthe nation
in four categories - health, health
care reform, biomedical innovation
and the educational quality provid-
ed by the Medical School and the
School of Nursing.
But such far-reaching cultural
changes to an organization with
20,000 employees can't be made
overnight or by one person, which
is why Pescovitz said she's spread-
ing her message to all of the people
in the Health System community.
"They're galvanized around a
common goal," Pescovitz said.
And in order for the goal to be
reached, employees at all levels
from custodians to doctors will
have to buy into the plan and will
need to understand what they can
do to move the organization for-
"It doesn't matter what they're
job is, but if they see their purpose
... they understand why they're,
here," Pescovitz said.
It's also a message that Pesco-
vitz indicated was being received
well by many working within the
Health System. Pescovitz recalled a
conversation she had with a house-
keeper at the C.S. Mott Children's
Hospital earlier last year.
"(The housekeeper) said 'I'm
here to make the children better.' I
said, 'How are you here to make the
children better?,' " Pescovitz said,
retelling the story. "(The house-
keeper replied) 'I'm here to make
them healthy.' She was cleaning the
floors, but she understood that her
purpose was to make the children
healthy and by keeping the floors
clean, her purpose was to make the
And ensuring employees under-
stand their impact on the organi-
zation is something that Pescovitz
said she believes will help to drive
each person to better results and
help to move the organization fur-
ther toward the top of the rankings.
"If you can give them that sense
of purpose and they understand
their purpose and they understand
where they fit in the organization
and they feel that sense of pur-
pose, well that's my job asa leader,"
Pescovitz said. "You don't tell them
what they have to do everyday. If
they see the purpose of the organi-
zation, they know whatthey have to
do if they understand where they fit
within the organization."
A PASSION FOR PATIENTS
Finding her own place within
the organization is something that
Pescovitz has had to adjust to.
When she made the move to the
University last year, she left behind
one of her most valued constituen-
cies - her patients.
But despite the fact that Pesco-
vitz is no longer able to take time
out to see patients, she keeps
reminders of past patients sprin-
kled throughout her office to help
her keep things in perspective.
While pointing out pictures of
her family near her desk, Pescovitz
pauses and picks up a book sitting
on a nearby coffee table.
"This book was given to me by
two sisters," Pescovitz says. "They
were wonderful patients."
Pescovitz pauses, looking at a
greeting card tucked inside the
front cover. She reads silently
before turning and reading part of
the message out loud.
"'We are forever grateful,' "
Pescovitzsaysreadingfrom the card.
Her hand clenches to her chest
as tears well up in her eyes and her
breath becomes heavier.
"You're going to make me cry,"
Pescovitz says as she puts down
the book and reaches for a box of
"I gave up seeing patients when
I came here," Pescovitz explains,
saying it was one of the most dif-
ficult parts of her transition to the
A DIFFERENT TYPE
Though Pescovitz is a pediatric
endocrinologist by trade, talking
with her isn't anything like having
a conversation with a highly spe-
cialized doctor or researcher.
Forget the technical jargon that
many doctors may use to explain
the complicated procedures they're
conducting or the mumbo jumbo
a researcher may use to describe
their methodology. When Pesco-
vitz talks with someone, she seems
to resemble a motivational speaker
more than a pediatric endocrinolo-
gist or hospital executive.
Pescovitz's style of speech is fit-
ting for someone who views her
role at UMHS as someone who can
rally employees to work toward
common goals and as someone who
is responsible for acting in a ser-
It's a quality that translates into
what Pescovitz calls her four D's
of e-mail - deal with, delegate,
delay or delete. But no matter what
the decision is, when Pescovitz
receives an e-mail, she guaran-
tees a response - one within 24
hours nonetheless - to anyone who
"I feel that no matter who con-
tacts me, no matter who it is, they
deserve a response," Pescovitz said.
"So whether it is a regent or it is a
student or whether it is a house-
keeper, I respond the same way to
It's a belief that Pescovitz says
comes from her view on service
to people and her opinion that
the Health System and Univer-
sity "should provide a service that
"That's a form of service excel-
lence and it is part of our mission.
It's part of how we differentiate
ourselves from our competitors,"
However, the belief that every-
one deserves a timely response has
earned her "a serious reputation for
the BlackBerry" and caused Pesco-
vitz to describe herself as a "rapid-
"It goes off all the time," Pesco-
vitz said during the interview as
her BlackBerry vibrated with each
e-mail arriving in her inbox.
And her prompt, frequent and
often odd-hour responses are some-
thing that she says have turned
more than a few co-workers' heads.
"I have a personal style that
differs from my predecessor and
everyone around here is very
aware of that," Pescovitz said with
a laugh. "It's caused a little stress
in here. It's definitely a change -
shaken people up a little bit."
"I'm known to send messages
in the middle of the night, I have
a reputation for that," Pescovitz
And responses in the middle of
the night aren't at all uncommon
with Pescovitz's intense schedule.
Another thing that separates
Pescovitz from most executives is
her belief in how employees should
be managed - not by high-level
supervisors, but by their peers and
"They have expertise that I don't
have," Pescovitz explained. "Con-
tracting - I don't know anything
about contracting, but the guy in
contracting reports to me."
Pescovitz went on to explain the
only employees she feels qualified
to evaluate is one of her peers with-
in her specialty.
"The only person that could
report to me where I could evalu-
ate what they do is another pediat-
ric endocrinologist," she said. "But
there are 20,000 people here who at
some level report to me. How can I
evaluate them? I can't."
Her belief that someone with-
in the field needs to evaluate an
employee to truly understand their
work has led Pescovitz to imple-
ment a different system - one in
which she reviews the results and
not necessarily the actual work.
"I have to be respectful of the
fact that they know stuff that I
don't know. So I'm not really able
to assess their work, except I can
assess the product at the end of
the day," Pescovitz said. "I have to
assume we've hired people who are
really great at what they do, but I
can see when they get off track and
they do other stuff."
MEETINGS, MEETINGS AND
Up at 4 a.m. each morning,
Pescovitz is the epitome of a morn-
ing person. She starts each day
with a big breakfast and a vigorous
workout routine, arriving to her
office by 6:30 a.m.
"I'm usually in here no later than
6:30 in the morning," Pescovitz said
in an interview in her office. '
But for Pescovitz, being the first
to arrive in her seventh-floor suite
- walking in the door so early that
she usually turns on the lights - is
more of a necessity than a choice.
"I don't want (everyone) to come
in at 6:30," Pescovitz said. "I'm
happy they're not here, because
that is the only time that I have to
do the little bit of stuff that I have
to do by myself."
And once normal business hours
roll around, Pescovitz barely has
any time to do any of her own work
- like responding to e-mails or
reading reports - because she's in
meetings for most of the day, every-
"Once 8 o'clock starts, and some-
times my meetings actually start at
7:00, I do not have another break
the rest of the day," Pescovitz said.
"It's packed for the rest of the day,
including most days through din-
They may be long workdays, but
Pescovitz says she loves her work
enough to compensate for the hec-
"I have long days, because I enjoy
my work. That is the truth and I
would tell you, and this is an impor-
tant message for students, that
you must find work that you love,"
Pescovitz said. "If you find work
that you're passionate about, then
you will want to work long hours.
My vocation is my avocation. For
that, I feel really fortunate."
FINDING TIME FOR FAMILY
Despite her intense work sched-
ule, Pescovitz says she is proud
that she is able to strike a balance
between her work life and her per-
"We have three children," she
said, pointing to a set of pictures
on the windowsill next to her desk.
"I do want to make sure students
know this, because (family) is an
With an enormousgrin and ener-
gy beaming from her eyes - a com-
mon expression she exhibits when
talking about either her family or
her work - Pescovitz describes
what each of her children are doing.
And while her children are grown
up now, Pescovitz said she still keeps
in close contact with them.
But despite the fact that she's far
away from her children and her hus-
band, who hasn't made the move to
Michigan yet, Pescovitz said she's
comfortable being in Ann Arbor-
alone - at least for the time being.
"My husband is still in Indianap-
olis. One of the reasons I'm not that
sorry that he's still there is because
I'm still learning my job," Pesco-
vitz explained in her interview last
fall. "I would love him to come here
and then I will cut back a little bit,
because it would be nice tobe mar-
ried; tomorrow is our 30th wedding
In addition to spending her free
time, albeit somewhat limited, with
her family, Pescovitz also has some
personal hobbies - including apas-
sion for playing the piano.
In fact, before deciding to go to
medical school, Pescovitz consid-
ered becoming a concert pianist.
"I didn't think I was good
enough. I thought it would be too
hard," Pescovitz said. "I thought
being a pianistwas way harder than
becoming a physician, which it is."
And though she ultimately
became a pediatric endocrinologist
instead, Pescovitz stillhas a passion
for the piano. Her favorite piece,
she said, is Chopin's "Ballade No. 1
in G Minor" - though she claims
she can't play it very well.
In addition to her love of piano,
Pescovitz also has a love of art. It's
a passion she shares with her hus-
band and it's one she is able to com-
bine with her job, by incorporating
some of her favorite pieces into her
Though her office consists of pri-
marily windows on two walls and
several doors and bookshelves on
the other two walls, Pescovitz finds
a way to integrate her art collection
into her office by using what little
wall space she has for her art and by
spreading her personal collection
throughout the hallways closest to
It's a collection that Pescovitz
classifies simply as "eclectic" -
with everything fromlandscapes to
On a tour of the artwork, Pesco-
vitz pauses in front of a painting
hanging in a short, private corridor
between her office and her confer-
ence room. She turns and begins
to explain why the piece - The
Death of Narcissus - is hanging in
a hallway that people rarely walks
"It's not in the right place. We
have an art consultant who said I
shouldn't have this too publicly dis-
played because it's a naked body,"
Pescovitz says. "But the truth is
there are naked art sculptures
around here. You know, we are a
But the painting hangs discreetly
in the private passageway because
it doesn't serve a public purpose.
Pescovitz says she uses the painting
as a source of strength, especially
when dealing with challenging fac-
"I bought this so I could be
reminded of what happens to Nar-
cissus, and we have some faculty
for whom this is really applicable,"
Pescovitz says with a laugh. "Every
once in a while we have a faculty
member who's kind of a little too
full of himself or herself and when
I need strength to deal with them,
I can remember what happened to
Narcissus in the end."
From Page 1A
places where smoking bans have
been implemented there has been
a compliance rate of about 97 per-
cent. Currently, two other Big Ten
Schools, Indiana University and
The University of Iowa have smoke-
free campuses as well as more than
250 other schools around the coun-
For students interested in quit-
ting smoking, Warner said sub-
sidized behavioral counseling as
well as prescriptions for smoking-
sensation medicine will become
In addition to trying to be sen-
sitive to smoking members of the
University community, Warner
said the committees are also try-
ing to address the issue of location
equality for people who smoke on
both North and Central Campus.
On Central Campus, there is
a mixture between city-owned
and University-owned sidewalks,
which will mean that once the ban
takes effect it will be relatively
easy for smokers to find property
owned by the city on which to
smoke. However, on North Cam-
pus, the University owns most of
the sidewalks, and the planners
want to provide an equal amount
of space to smoke on both cam-
Committee members are also
looking into creating an exception
to the ban for smoking near the Big
House during tailgates on Football
Saturdays, Warner said. The cur-
rent policy allows alcohol in this
area only on Football Saturdays and
the plan is to also allow smoking in
But beginning this year, Warner
said smoking will be banned in all
areas inside the stadium. Previous-
ly, it was allowed in areas outside
"If you are going to have excep-
tions and violations I expect to see
a lot more of them there than any-
where else," Warner said, citing a
reason for this as the influx of non-
University affiliated people to the
Another issue that may present
itself is that those people with pre-
scriptions to smoke medical mari-
juana will need somewhere to do
"My answer to that is they can
eat brownies," Warner joked. Add-
ing more seriously that they could
smoke in an off-campus location.
Warner also said that while some
people oppose the smoke-free mea-
sure, he didn't see too many people
voicing their opposition at the
informational meetings held by the
University on the topic.
Warner added that the results of
the survey meant to gauge student
opinion by gathering responses
from about 1,500 students and
also suggested that the ban wasn't
"I wouldn't say that it was on
one side or the other, a little bit of
everything," Warner said.