SAIL’s Associate Director, Bob Kiser, is a recipient of the 2020 Chancellor’s Academic Professional Excellence (CAPE) Award. This prestigious award is given to academic professional staff members, selected from nominees across the entire university, in recognition of excellence and important contributions to the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Bob has been with the simulation center since 1994. He began as a standardized patient (SP), eventually becoming an SP Coordinator, Assistant Director, and now the Associate Director. As the Associate Director, he oversees day-to-day operations of both human-based and technology-based simulation, participates in teaching all over the world, and works with the Director in the creative and strategic vision of the Simulation and Integrative Learning Institute. Major events for the center this past year includes the center’s move to two floors of state-of-the art simulation spaces and navigating uncharted waters by creating innovative solutions for simulation during the pandemic. He is also focusing on finding ways to use simulation to address racial and social inequities.
Bob was nominated for this award by SAIL’s Director, Dr. Christine Park, because she believes he exemplifies the outstanding achievements, contribution, and impact for which the award was created. “No matter what he does, he brings his whole self to bear in a way that integrates candor, collaboration, innovation and dedication,” Dr. Park says. Laura McKenzie, Assistant Director of SAIL, states that in the international world of simulation Bob is considered to be a “rock star,” and the “go-to guy for training, feedback, and debriefing.”
In order to get an idea of Bob’s leadership skills, he completed a simulation version of a Proust Questionnaire.
What drew you to working in the field of simulation?
The opportunity to use my skills of acting, directing, coaching and mediation. I love experiential learning and it doesn’t get much better than simulation!
What is the biggest challenge to overseeing simulationists?
Not sure if there is a challenge of overseeing simulationists as a whole- I think the biggest challenge with overseeing humans is their fear of not being accepted or being perceived as not good enough. Work to empower people and they will help motivate their colleagues to move mountains for you.
What is the funniest thing (that you can share) that’s happened during your time at SAIL?
GREAT question- there are so many! In our old center, space and storage was at a premium and we very often would store mannequins in the odd rooms when not being used. As staff we are so used to them, we would sometimes forget the mannequins were there.
Picture it… in one SP room, we had a 1/2 mannequin (torso/head only) that we had covered up (like a dead, half body) since it was not in use. During orientation, we tell learners they are to take everything in the room as part of the simulation. The only issue is on this particular day, we forgot we had the 1/2 of mannequin in that room.
The task was for the learner to inform the SP that her son has passed away. The room should have been empty. During the encounter, the learner very effectively transmitted the information to the “mother.” Then, unexpectedly, the learner said, “Would you like to see your son?” motioning to the half mannequin under the sheet. Without missing a beat, the SP said, “That ain’t my son!”
Though I laughed, horrified by our innocent mistake, I was so proud of the learner and SP who fully immersed themselves in the reality of the simulation and remained dedicated to the educational experience.
Lesson learned: check all rooms thoroughly for items that shouldn’t be there!
What is your advice to others in a director’s position?
My primary philosophy of leadership is that people come first. Take care of your team (and clients) then the work results will follow. I also believe that you must constantly reassess your actions in relation to your values and make sure you have not gotten side-tracked.
What is something you’d like a second chance to do over?
Not necessarily do over but would like a day with my father and sister to tie up loose ends and to let them know how much they meant to me.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Coming home at the end of the day and having “snuggle” time with my otherwise mean cat.
What trait do you admire most in others?
When someone is driven to achieve their personal goals yet has an unwavering kindness towards others in the process.
What trait to you least admire in others?
Self-centeredness that hurts or adversely affects others.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“Interesting” and “Tell me more about that”. ????
Which talent would you most like to have?
To be a natural singer with perfect pitch
What’s your motto?
“A life lived in fear is a life half lived”- Spanish proverb
The SAIL staff congratulates Bob on this much deserved honor . One staff member said, “Bob has always been a hero, so it’s only fitting that he now has a CAPE.”