New Board Chair Values Collaboration

This past June, Loyola Marymount University named Paul S. Viviano chair of the university’s Board of Trustees. He has been a member of the board since 2010 and served on the Board of Regents from 2007–10. Viviano has spent a career serving at the highest levels in academic health care administration. He is president and chief executive officer of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. He has also been chief executive officer of the UC San Diego Health System while also serving simultaneously as associate vice chancellor for Health Sciences at UC San Diego, chairman of the board and chief executive officer for Alliance HealthCare Services, president and CEO of USC University Hospital and USC/Norris Cancer Hospital. Viviano was a member of the St. Joseph Health System for 16 years, having served as president and chief executive officer at St. Jude Medical Center, president and chief executive officer of St. Joseph Hospital Orange, regional president and CEO for the Southern California region and for six years as the president and chief operating officer for the entire health system. A native of California, he holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a master’s degree in public administration and public health from UCLA. He succeeds Kathleen Hannon Aikenhead as chair of the Board of Trustees. Viviano was interviewed by Editor Joseph Wakelee-Lynch.

As chair of the Board of Trustees, how do you see the board’s role at LMU?
Our primary role is to assure that LMU has the resources to be successful in the fulfillment of the university’s mission. We support the president, the faculty and senior leadership in providing the resources necessary so that our students can have the educational and personal experience that is consistent with the university’s mission. That’s a highly collaborative effort. There is a clear distinction between board responsibilities and the role of management. We are vigilant in respecting these specific and respective roles.

Boards also play another role: We have fiduciary responsibility. The university is a 501(c)(3), and we have obligations under federal and state law. We are trustees, that is, we have been entrusted to protect this magnificent asset that the three sponsoring religious orders have built and that the state has identified as a nonprofit entity. Thankfully, the university is in very strong shape, and our job is to make sure that it remains so while achieving LMU’s mission.

What do you most want to see LMU achieve during your term as board chair?
Among the strategic opportunities the university faces, to increase our visibility and our presence in the Southern California area and to be recognized as a national-class Catholic, Jesuit university will be one of the primary goals that I’ll help to support as board chair. Also, the Playa Vista-Silicon Beach initiative — to have a presence for the graduate school of School of Film and Television in the Playa Vista-Silicon Beach community — will be a real milestone.

We’ve been spending a lot of time working closely with President Snyder and Dean Michael Waterstone of the Loyola Law School to strengthen the law school. The new dean is a magnificent leader, and we’re pleased with the direction the law school is taking. Law schools nationally are under a lot of pressure, so we’ve put a plan together that will enhance the standing and rankings of LLS, along with enhancing the role that it plays both in the legal community and more broadly.

One of the most important elements of the work ahead is enlarging the endowment of the university to make sure that we have sufficient scholarship resources to support the students we want to recruit. Completing the endowment plan for scholarships and continuing to raise new resources philanthropically will be a significant milestone for my tenure. The board is considering a capital campaign toward that end and extensive communication in that respect will be forthcoming.

What is LMU’s greatest strength?
We are blessed with many strengths. Foremost is the renowned Loyola Marymount tradition that encompasses academic excellence and the education of the whole person. That relies on a great faculty, and we are blessed by the very presence of our stellar faculty. Our students are a truly fantastic component of the university and arguably the most important asset that we have. We have an opportunity to make a durable impact on their lives and on society because of their future contributions.

What is your greatest strength that you bring to the Board of Trustees?
My desire to be a good listener: to make sure that we are in tune with faculty and administration needs, and those of our students. I want to listen and help in a collaborative way to meet the needs of those who have devoted their careers to LMU and those we serve.

What does the phrase “to be men and women for others” mean to you as board chair?
That phrase has a lot of meaning for me; while the specific issues may evolve over time, the base is to reflect compassion in all that we do. We’re here to serve the needs of others, and that is part of the Jesuit tradition, the Marymount tradition, and the tradition of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange. Our traditions call us to support those in need, those on the fringes of society, and to help them with their practical needs. We are currently focused on how best to make our students feel safe and supported.
On this campus, being men and women for others means providing academic and educational opportunities to students who otherwise wouldn’t have access to an outstanding, life-changing university education. The meaning of the phrase takes a variety of forms, but it’s all based in the foundation of the university mission that the board is proud to support.

You’ve been deeply involved in large, public higher education institutions that are seriously devoted to medical research. How does that experience benefit LMU?
I was at UC San Diego during an exciting time of ascent to national prominence in the sciences. That’s the focus of that university: science first. It was nothing short of remarkable for a university founded just over 50 years ago to achieve world-class research rankings measured by NIH support along with other granting agencies. At UCSD, I was responsible for the entire clinical enterprise. The investments that we made translated into great prominence for the university, and that prominence became self-reinforcing: You can recruit great faculty because you have great scientific research capabilities. New faculty bring their research capabilities along with their clinical and teaching experience. In turn, they recruit more colleagues who get excited and attracted to the university.

We do the same thing on a smaller scale at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. We have a research institute that is obviously much smaller in scale than UC San Diego. We have about $75 million in federal funding and about 225 dedicated physician-scientists. We’re No. 7 in the national research rankings of children’s hospitals. I feel that we can attract more outstanding faculty members to the extent that we help enable their research career and capabilities.

Finally, I’ve really been fortunate to have worked with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange for 16 years in their clinical enterprise in a variety of CEO roles. That experience along with the academic administrative experiences that I’ve described make for someone who can relate to many of the challenges that LMU as a Catholic, Jesuit university may face.

The roles of a university president and chair of the Board of Trustees are different, so how do they work together?
That’s the key to success: how we work together. I’ve been a big advocate, proponent and supporter of President Snyder since serving on the search committee formed to replace David W. Burcham. President Burcham served LMU with great distinction, and his many accomplishments have left a strong legacy for us all and for President Snyder.

I have enormous respect for Tim’s academic credentials, research capabilities, teaching background, and very deep roots in Jesuit universities, and I believe that he is an extraordinary communicator to every part of the LMU family: faculty, students, parents, the community, philanthropists. And there is a clear distinction between the president and the CEO of this great university and the board chair.

I’m not the manager. That’s not my job. My role is to support Tim as our leader. So when we sit down together, I ask Tim how I can help him. My job is to help facilitate board discussions, to support President Snyder, by being a sounding board, and to listen, so that we can translate his vision and related needs into resources.

Is there any part of the university that is especially close to your heart?
There are many elements that I’m particularly fond of; my first introduction to the university was through the Bioethics Institute. I have a soft spot for the institute because its work aligns with my career interests. It’s a great example of an ecumenical view of bioethics and how it can be supportive to practitioners, patients, scientist researchers and others. I care about the Academy of Catholic Thought and Imagination, because it speaks to our identity as a Catholic institution. I also love the men’s basketball team. The things I care about are wide-ranging. Mostly I care about how we meet the needs of our students as we prepare them for a life of contributing to our world in a meaningful, values-based and passionate manner.