Retiring facilities executive accentuates the positive during 47-year career
Published on Monday, June 24, 2019
By: Bruce Coleman
Ask 1,000 people at the University of Mississippi Medical Center about Ivory Bogan, and you’ll get 1,000 different stories.
There have been at least that many bandied about the Division of Physical Facilities at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in the days since Bogan announced his retirement as executive director of facilities management, effective June 30.
But all of the stories have one thing in common: They each reflect Bogan’s legendary positive nature.
It’s more than just an approach to work – it’s an outlook on life he credits to his mother and father as he reflects on his 47-year career at UMMC.
“My mother and father, those two people, went through a time when living was tough, but I never saw them with a negative attitude,” Bogan said. “They might not have been able to give the family everything we wanted, but they made sure they gave us everything we needed. And always with a positive spin.
“It may not have been much, but with the sacrifice it took for them to make it happen, you felt like it was a lot.”
Bogan has been giving a lot to the Medical Center for the better part of five decades. His steady rise at UMMC from electrician’s helper at 17 to electrician; energy management technician; physical facilities scheduler; work control manager; assistant and associate director of maintenance and transportation; interim director and director of physical facilities and real property; to, ultimately, executive director of facilities management has been well documented. Yet he always points to others when discussing any success he has earned.
The only exception he may allow is the satisfaction he felt after a conversation with Dr. Dan Jones, former vice chancellor for health affairs, a little more than a decade ago.
“I can truthfully say my proudest moment was my appointment by Dr. Jones as director of physical facilities and real property,” Bogan said. “Sometimes when a person makes a decision, you wonder why they did it, but Dr. Jones walked me through why he made that appointment. He said he felt like I was the person to lead facilities after some of the challenges the area had faced.
“I told him I was a little hesitant because I didn’t have an advanced degree, but he said, ‘Bogan, with your 30-plus years of work, that’s enough of a degree. We need for you to take this division and move it further along. And I was proud to be able to do it.”
His success in leading a department that at one time boasted more than 300 employees, nine divisions and a budget of more than $35 million was deeply rooted in the attitude he brought to the job, according to Dr. LouAnn Woodward, UMMC’s current vice chancellor for health affairs.
“Mr. Bogan is the consummate ‘yes man,’ and I don’t mean that in the usual sense of the term,” Woodward said. “Whether the request is large or small, he finds a way to say ‘yes,’ and gets the job done with grace and dignity.
“He is the ultimate example of selfless commitment to UMMC, a reliable presence for more than 45 years, and his departure leaves a large and unfillable void.”
Dr. James E. Keeton, vice chancellor emeritus for health affairs, simply calls Bogan’s contributions to the Medical Center “incredible.”
“You meet a lot of super people along the way, but Ivory is a special case,” Keeton said. “He was 100 percent loyal and committed to the University of Mississippi Medical Center. When I, as vice chancellor, asked him about any issues or asked him to do something, there was never any question but that he would take care of it.
“To work someplace 47 years in itself is remarkable. I can’t say enough nice things about this man – he is of the highest order.”
It wouldn’t be hard to speculate that Woodward and Keeton’s sentiments reflect those of their predecessors as well, each of whom benefited from Bogan’s efforts on behalf of the institution.
“As I’ve said many times, I’m very proud I personally got to know the last six leaders of this institution, starting with Dr. (Robert E.) Blount and going through Dr. (Norman C.) Nelson, Dr. (Wallace) Conerly, Dr. Jones, Dr. Keeton and Dr. Woodward,” Bogan said. “That each of those leaders of this institution personally knew me and my work, and that I had the privilege of working directly with them.
“I’m proud I was able to help them move this institution forward as an academic health sciences institution.”
Bogan is hard pressed to think of one square inch of UMMC’s main campus he hasn’t laid eyes upon during his distinguished career.
“I’ve seen it all, especially during the significant growth that has occurred over the last 30 years,” he said. “When I first started, we were in the original T-shaped building. The south wing went up to the third floor and the C wing, the children’s wing, went up to the third floor.
“I’ve seen buildings go up: I’ve seen the Research Wing, Children’s Cancer floor, Children’s Hospital, (the Winfred L.) Wiser (Hospital for Women and Infants), the (Wallace Conerly Hospital for) Acute Care, the Acute Services wing, the (Norman C. Nelson) Student Union, the School of Nursing building, the SHRP addition, the Adult Hospital, the original Guyton building, the Guyton addition, the (Verner Holmes) Learning Resource Building, the Translational Research building and the new School of Medicine – I’ve seen everything.”
His biggest concern during that time? How to keep the institution’s vast array of machines and equipment running.
“My biggest challenge has been keeping some of the original 1955 equipment going and maintaining it when we really needed to upgrade it,” he said. “Especially if it’s equipment that served patient-care areas. Worrying about the failure of that equipment would keep me up some nights.”
What helped negate that worry were the talented people with whom he shared his work space, Bogan said.
“I will miss the people,” he said. “I really enjoy meetings and listening and learning from other people within the institution.
“But what I will miss the most is just being here. Every day, there are new challenges which keeps this job interesting to me – some people might say hectic, but they made the day go by fast and it felt good to accomplish some difficult tasks.”
As for the legacy he would like to leave the institution, Bogan returns to the philosophy that had served him so well for 47 years.
“My legacy is to provide a professional service to our customers: patients, employees and visitors. If someone came to me with an issue, I wanted to make sure the problem was resolved in a timely manner, no matter how large or small it was. I tried to communicate with them and let them know we are aware of their issue and we are working to resolve the problem.”
In retirement, Bogan said he intends to take the opportunity to experience many of the places he had been introduced to during his career at UMMC.
“I’m looking most forward to traveling,” he said. “There’s so much in this state and in the United States to see. When I went to conferences in other places, I may have wanted to see some things but I didn’t have the time.
“Now I’m going to take the time and visit different cities, absorb all the museums and places to see.”
Bogan and his wife, Debra, a recent retiree herself, will be able to share memories of their travels with the couple’s true legacy: their children, grandchildren and great grandchild.
“We’ve raised our kids and put them through school,” Bogan said. “Between our kids and grandkids we have a total of 15 college degrees: eight bachelor’s degrees, five master’s, a specialist and a doctoral degree.
“I feel I’ve done my duty as a parent, as a provider. Now it’s time for Debra and me to enjoy ourselves.”
What they say about Ivory Bogan
Comments from attendees of Bogan's departmental retirement reception June 18 in the Norman C. Nelson Student Union.
“The characteristic that first comes to mind when I think of Ivory Bogan is pride. He takes great pride in his work and our Medical Center as a whole. He instills that same pride in the teams he has led for so many decades.
“He is a wealth of knowledge and knows more about the working of our campus than anyone else.”
- Dr. Jonathan A. Wilson, UMMC chief administrative officer
“(Ivory Bogan) is an institution himself. He’s a treasure trove of knowledge and history. Anytime someone like that retires, they can’t be replaced.”
- Arthur Jones, construction project manager
“Watching him work has motivated his team to exhibit those same behaviors, and that is why Physical Facilities has been so successful and will continue to be successful.”
- Krystle Wilson, executive assistant, Physical Facilities
“(Ivory’s) almost a perfectionist. Whenever we would get the orders for supplies for in-house construction projects, his were always very precise, very detailed and legible.”
- John Curry, retired director of business administration, Physical Facilities