Q: Johns Hopkins?
A: I did my postdoctoral training in internal medicine there and at OU. I was in the Air Force ROTC in college, and when I graduated med school, they still had the doctor draft of two years obligatory service. I was assigned to the U.S. Public Health Service and, after three months of training at the CDC in Atlanta, was sent originally to a quarantined Christian Science school in Greenwich, Conn. to investigate the first polio outbreak in seven years. We determined a family brought the disease there after being exposed in India, and the 11 paralytic cases involved football players who shared a single ladle to drink from a water barrel during practices. The unaffected students had been secretly vaccinated by their mothers, though devout Christian Scientists don't believe in vaccines.
The school's headmaster chose to deal with only me, because he liked my friendly Midwestern manner. It was considerable pressure. I was interviewed by “Time,” “Newsweek” and CBS Evening News, though the broadcast didn't air because Kissinger that same day announced the end of the Vietnam War.
Q: Is there a common skill vital to being a good physician, award-winning teacher and effective administrator?
A: It's very important to listen. Even if people don't get the answers they hoped for, it's important that you hear them. My department heads would tell you I'm fair, honest, operate with integrity and follow through on commitments. I put them in writing so there's institutional memory.
Q: What's your proudest achievement thus far at the OU HSC?
A: I could point to buildings, people or programs, but it'd have to be helping change the culture of the entity we now call OU Medicine. Now, we're a true medical practice group with a professional, though inclusive and collegial, atmosphere. Thanks in large part to OU President David Boren and our growth in philanthropy, we're recognized as good. Our next step is great. To get there, we need to focus on efficiency, careful management of resources and strategic investments.