In our Alumni Career Spotlight series, you will meet some of our alumni and learn about the important work they are doing to create a healthier nation and world.
Location: Las Cruces, NM
Degree(s): 1968 BA Business Administration, Marian College (now University); 1974 MHA, Indiana University School of Medicine
Why did you choose your major/program?
I chose the business administration degree as I was uncertain about a specific career and felt it would give me a choice of opportunities where I could grow professionally.
The MHA came after I took a position at the Krannert Institute of Cardiology on the IUMC campus to manage grants in 1969. The position evolved into being the administrator reporting to the director of the institute. My exposure to the hospitals on the campus and the creation of the MHA program in 1969 offered me an opportunity to obtain an advanced degree that would offer opportunities to grow in healthcare administration.
Describe your career path.
My 46+ year career in healthcare administration began by chance in 1969. My first job was with an IBM subsidiary in 1968 that provided data services to businesses. About six months into my training, IBM lost a lawsuit to H. Ross Perot and the subsidiary I was working for was part of the settlement. We learned that only the technical staff were going to be retained and the marketing staff were let go.
I reached out to the placement office at Marian and learned that they had been contacted by the dean’s office of the IU School of Medicine, which was assisting the Krannert Institute of Cardiology with a search to find someone with a business degree to manage the grants they had. After my interviews, I was offered the position and accepted. Once I was onsite, the position evolved into an administrative role that included supporting the clinicians and researchers with oversight of operations.
Shortly after starting, I learned that the MHA program was being developed with a targeted start in the fall of 1969. My role supporting the clinicians included interacting with staff at several hospitals on the campus. I saw and learned many things in my early days in my role, some to do and some not to do. This learning process would continue through my career.
I applied to the MHA program and was admitted in 1971. I graduated in 1974 and continued in my role at Krannert that continued to grow in a variety of ways. I stepped into my first hospital role in 1978. My career took me through five hospitals (the last two as the CEO) and several consulting projects before I retired in 2015. Each stop along the way had learning experiences that benefited me going forward. I am also a Life Fellow of the ACHE.
The two CEO positions were particularly satisfying as I led the effort to build replacement hospitals in rural communities that had aging facilities that would have cost more to renovate, let alone try to operate during renovation, than to replace. The first one took approximately seven years from inception to completion. The second took a little over 13 years driven by the financial upheaval in 2008 and several external challenges that arose.
Along the way, I served on hospital association boards, committees and was a board member and board president for the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network. I look back at my journey with fond memories of people I worked with and goals accomplished even though there were times it felt like someone hit the puree button on the blender.
Describe what an average day for you might be like.
Each day had experiences that made them more unique than average. Often times the interactions with staff, physicians, patients, families, the public and even regulatory bodies had special meaning.
What advice would you give your college self about pursuing your current career path or industry?
Be comfortable with change and learn to utilize the skill sets of people you work with to improve the processes that are ever evolving in healthcare. Recognize that many challenges are similar across healthcare but locations such as metropolitan, urban and rural have their individual opportunities to address healthcare needs.
What is a lesson learned at FSPH that you have been able to apply to your career?
After starting in the MHA program, I realized I had a lot more to learn and that realization stayed with me for my career.
What is the most significant thing that’s happened to you since graduating?
I married Joyce in 1973 and we had two daughters of whom I am very proud and a grandson she never met as breast cancer claimed her life in 1998 before he was born. In 2002 I was blessed to meet Bonnie and we married in 2004. Our combined family has two daughters, three sons, a grandson and two granddaughters.
What’s next for you?
I still stay in touch with people at the two rural hospitals I was at and am proud to see how they have flourished through the challenging times. I also have maintained connections with the architectural firm and construction management firm I was fortunate to work with on both replacement facilities. The people I worked with from both quickly became friends.
My time is spread across staying in touch with family, playing golf, physical fitness, digitizing old audio tapes, trying to learn to play the guitar, volunteering, being a dog father and being open to other options.
What is your favorite IUPUI/FSPH memory?
My favorite memory is the time I spent with Sam Hopper who made the case to Walter Daly MD, who was the dean of the IU School of Medicine, that a program to develop healthcare administrators was a growing need in Indiana. Many of the people I met, particularly in my early years, in administrative roles in hospitals had no healthcare experience prior to taking the positions.