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New leadership roles enhance VUMC Facilities Management

Nov. 5, 2015, 8:55 AM

Gary Streaty, left, and Ken Browning are taking on new leadership roles for Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Facilities Management. (photo by Steve Green)

After serving more than 30 years as the leader of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Department of Facilities and Plant Services, Ken Browning, assistant vice chancellor for Facilities and Construction, is handing over these responsibilities to Gary Streaty, who will serve as the department’s new executive director.

While Streaty will now be responsible for the financial and operational aspects of maintaining the Medical Center’s numerous facilities and physical plant systems — which are in operation 24 hours a day, 365 days a year — Browning will continue to serve VUMC by overseeing new facilities construction.

At the same time as this leadership transition the department is receiving a new name and will now be called Facilities Management.

Streaty, who has served as the director of Medical Center Parking and Transportation Services since being recruited to VUMC by Browning in 2007, is enthusiastic about the new role.

“I am really excited about this opportunity for growth for me and others in the department. The work that we do is critical for the organization and can have a direct impact on the type of care received by our patients.

“I’ve worked closely with Ken and a number of other people along the way as I’ve picked up management of some of the department’s auxiliary operations, which in turn has given me the opportunity to be introduced into more areas that we serve,” said Streaty. “Everything we do is about our patients and visitors, and everyone within our organization is a client for our services. At the end of the day it’s about making VUMC safe and accommodating for everyone. I have that as my basic foundation.

“It seems like a daunting task to pick up where Ken is leaving off but we have really great people who, collectively, know all of the things that Ken knows. I feel confident we will do well. We have a really great team and I want everyone to feel like they will have the opportunity to show their talents,” Streaty said.

Browning and Streaty have been working together since earlier this year to ensure a smooth transition.

“Ken has been a Medical Center mainstay for more than three decades. His contributions to our success are too numerous to count, helping us manage through tremendous growth in our physical plant and in times of crisis such as the 2010 flood,” said John F. Manning Jr., Ph.D., MBA, associate vice chancellor for Health Affairs and chief administrative officer for VUMC.

“His leadership and intimate knowledge of our facilities, systems and operations are difficult to replace. We are fortunate that Ken and Gary have a close working relationship and Ken will be available to serve as a mentor as Gary assumes this important role.

“Gary’s leadership over Parking and Transportation Services has been transformative for this program and our patients. His strength in organizational management and outgoing nature will be tremendous assets as he transitions to these new responsibilities,” Manning said.

When Browning joined VUMC in 1984 the Medical Center consisted of five buildings and approximately 2.5 million square feet.

During his tenure the square footage has nearly tripled to 6.2 million square feet of interior space while parking has grown from just the East Garage and a surface lot to now encompass multiple garages and more than 3 million square feet.

Prior to 1984, at a time when University buildings far outnumbered the Medical Center’s in size and scale, there was only one department to address the facilities needs across the entire institution. The opening of Vanderbilt University Hospital was a tipping point in terms of the Medical Center’s need for facilities support.

“I was recruited to Vanderbilt to lead the newly created part of the Plant Operations department that would be dedicated to the Medical Center, which over time has grown and evolved to become what it is today,” Browning said.

“We have had phenomenal growth during my tenure, which I honestly believe has made my job a lot easier. When people are challenged by new buildings and growth, you always have something you’re working toward. The growth has given people within my department a lot of opportunities for advancement through staff growth and by creating new management positions. And there are always new systems to learn.”

Browning said that with the VU and VUMC transition he feels the timing is right for this career transition for himself and for Streaty to assume the role as the department’s leader.

“Future growth will allow Gary an opportunity to build his own team. At the same time, I am appreciative to have the opportunity to be able to work on new construction projects. The timing feels right for me and our transition plan feels good because Gary is a really strong leader. It’s rewarding to see someone that you’ve recruited and hired have the opportunity to step up,” Browning said.

“Still, stepping away from these responsibilities is a bit bittersweet. I’ve got pictures with guys we hired when I first started. They were about 18 at the time and we’ve grown into old men together. We’ve had great experiences, and I hate to say it but the catastrophes have been some of the most memorable times as everyone pulled together toward a common goal.”

While he isn’t retiring, Browning anticipates his new role will allow more time away from campus to help others. He’s skilled at operating heavy equipment, plumbing, electrical and carpentry work himself and frequently volunteers to assist friends and family with these needs.

He is also restoring vintage vehicles, including a 60s era tour bus that once belonged to a country music artist. He also owns 15 vintage boats, which he confesses are in varying states of operation.

“I think I’ll have plenty to do,” he said.

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