An Elevator Ride with Dean Mark Richardson

Richardson, dean of the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine and winner of several faculty teaching awards, died after he was critically injured while doing a home repair.

OPINION -- I had the privilege of being a National Library of Medicine post-doctoral fellow at OHSU from 2012 to 2015, working on my PhD in Biomedical Informatics. Early in my tenure, I had the occasion to attend an OHSU alumni event at a local hotel in downtown Portland, given that I also had completed my Master's at OHSU.

As I took the elevator up to the banquet room, I found myself in the elevator with Dean Mark Richardson and his wife. He immediately engaged me in a conversation about my studies and research interests. The elevator opened to a room of many people, but the Dean continued the conversation, and invited me to visit with him in the future. His wife looked on as if to say "he does this all the time." I was anxious that I might be holding the Dean up from greeting the many folks in the room that undoubtedly wanted to spend time with him, but he proceeded to be most generous with his time.

I could not help thinking during the dinner and thereafter, how lucky we at OHSU were to have such an individual as our Dean. It was not just the Dean's infectious smile, his keen interest in students, and in making the healthcare system a better place for all, but his friendship. When I got the word from President Joe Robertson's e mail about the Dean's accident, I could not help think about that elevator ride, and the subsequent times I briefly saw the Dean on campus and in other venues, and his engaging personality and his greeting.

Career coaches and marketing people tell you that you should have an elevator speech ready to deliver in the right context. When I hear such advice, I always think of the ride with the Dean and his wife. He did not have a canned elevator speech. You realize the Dean engages you in a conversation that is unique and he is genuinely interested in you. From what I understand, he has done this countless times. We have lost a true guiding force at OHSU. I know President Robertson advised that the Dean was planning on retiring this year. Although I do not know what his plans were, I can only imagine that they would involve continuing to work toward making our healthcare system a better one.

As I pen this tribute, waiting to present on a panel at the Broad and Cassel on The Medicare Access and CHIP Authorization Act of 2015 ("MACRA"), possibly the most comprehensive legislation affecting physician reimbursement, I cannot help think of what the Dean's contributions would be in this area going forward.

My heart goes out to Mark's wife and his family, to our OHSU family and to the community. We have lost a true leader, someone who has positively affected all of our lives. As OHSU goes forward, it will have lost a spring in its step. I know my friend and colleague, Dr. Robertson, will ensure that we only get one of the best Deans available, but it will not be Dean Richardson.

I am now an Associate Professor at the College of Pharmacy at Nova Southeastern in Fort Lauderdale. When I deliver the Graduate Seminar lecture this Friday, September 9, 2016, at the Nova, I will plan to stay around for as long as the students want to visit with me. I learned this from Mark, as we educators exist to be there for our students. Thank you, Dean, for being a friend.

I am most pleased that President Robertson announced that we can celebrate the Dean's accomplishments and his life by contributing to the Mark A. Richardson Deanship Endowment. I very much look forward to contributing in some way to the Dean's very deserved legacy.

Paul R. DeMuro, Ph D, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociobehavior and Administrative Pharmacy in the College of Pharmacy at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL. He is also a counsel at Broad and Cassel Attorneys at Law, and can be reached at . [email protected]

News source: