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Bookstore manager instills sense of community at School of Medicine

From first-year anatomy to graduation, Maris V. Hazners welcomes medical-school students to downtown hub. 

MarisHazners  great photo 

"My part here is to enhance their education by listening to what they need," says Maris V. Hazners.  Photo by Sabree Hill

While many are taught to practice the golden rule, Maris V. Hazners goes platinum.

As manager of the School of Medicine's bookstore, he both inspired and won the Owl Club's Spirit of Tulane award for consistently going beyond the call of duty in helping students.

"The golden rule is to do unto others as you want done unto you," he explains. "The platinum rule is to treat them as they want to be treated, as they should be treated. I try to go that one step above."

And students are responding. Hazners is proud to have won the only award voted on by all four classes of the student body. His methods of service are simple, but effective. He listens. Hazners says part of his job is communicating the feedback he receives from one year's students to the next.

"They'll come to me and say, 'I heard you know what I need to buy.' That just makes me feel so good. My part here is to enhance their education by listening to what they need. One flash card might sell better than another because of a useful clinical vignette, for example, and I parrot that information to new students. I guide them through all the different references."

Another way Hazners achieves such a close relationship with students is by sharing his love of music. Each member of last year's graduating class received a CD of Hazners' favorite songs from his musical library spanning the eighties, and it's a tradition he plans to continue.

"I called it All My Best to the Best because I worked with them all the way through. I started here when they started here, so I was very close with that class."

In July 2006, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Hazners scrambled to accommodate students with otherwise limited options. The cafeteria had not yet re-opened, the library operated with limited hours and there was no student lounge. In addition, most area drugstores were closed.

"After class, they came in and I said 'C'mon, let’s set up the corner by the window with couch chairs,' and they all gathered in that area. I took my own chairs out of the back room and gave them a space where they could congregate and build camaraderie.

"In 2004, when I first started [at the medical bookstore], I'd walk the aisles and they didn't know me. By the end of 2006, I was on a first-name basis with faculty, staff and students. I had become a full part of the community."

Hazners, originally from Rochester, New York, worked five Barnes and Noble stores there before arriving on Tulane's uptown campus in 1991. When he reached the medical school, he felt it a perfect fit, and a challenging opportunity to give more.

"We're here from start to finish," Hazners says. "During orientation, we're part of the group that donates the white coats to the first-year students. At graduation, we supply the caps and gowns, and I'm actually there at the event to work with each student, many of whom are leaving right after graduation. I try to make it as convenient for them as possible."

"Maris is truly dedicated to the students at the School of Medicine," adds David Kinahan, vice president of development for the medical school. "When I saw him at the recent graduation he was as proud of our graduates as any of the parents, siblings or other family members in attendance."

Hazners sums up his philosophy in one sentence. "When they can't make it to the bookstore," he explains, "the bookstore goes to them."

Michael Ramos is a writer in the Office of Development.



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