Before enrolling in the Oregon Executive MBA program, Joseph E. Robertson, Jr., MD, MBA '97, thought business was all about the bottom line. What he discovered was that it's actually about leadership, and now Robertson is leading initiatives to improve health care throughout Oregon.
Born and raised in Indiana, Robertson came to Oregon in 1979 as an ophthalmology resident at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) after receiving his medical degree from Indiana University. For him, Oregon was the perfect place to call home. Today, Robertson, who has a passion for the outdoors, lives with his wife Patricia Fisher in a floating home on the Willamette River--his kayak always at the ready to seek out new adventures and challenges.
It's that same passion for life that prompted Robertson to enroll in the Oregon Executive MBA program in 1995 and take on progressively more responsibility at OHSU: first achieving renown as an expert in vitreoretinal surgery (which involves repairing eye injuries resulting from detached retinas), then serving as dean of the medical school beginning in 2003, and subsequently becoming OHSU's president in September 2006. In fact, other than a year in private practice, Robertson has dedicated his life to advancing the department of ophthalmology, School of Medicine, and OHSU. And he credits the Oregon Executive MBA with helping him achieve success.
"It was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life. You emerge from the program with a highly valuable set of skills but also with a different perspective on business and leadership. It had a major impact on my leadership and management style, and I daily apply lessons learned in the program to my work at OHSU," he said.
As dean of the School of Medicine, Robertson saw its National Institutes of Health ranking improve from thirty-second to twenty-third among the 125 medical schools in the United States. He also spearheaded numerous initiatives aimed at providing improved health care access to Oregonians. Among those accomplishments, Robertson proactively responded to Oregon's physician workforce shortage (the output of new doctors per capita in Oregon is half the national average) by significantly increasing enrollment in the medical school and developing a partnership with the University of Oregon and PeaceHealth Oregon Region to create a regional medical education program in Eugene-Springfield.
"Part of the inspiration for the regional medical education program I can trace back to my Oregon Executive MBA experience," noted Robertson. "Just as that program brings together multiple campuses to create a common educational program for the greater good of the state, OHSU, UO, PeaceHealth, and community physicians are partnering to regionalize medical education."
As OHSU's president, Robertson said his goal is to similarly "partner with other organizations--including state universities, area health systems, community physicians, and businesses--to meet the needs of the state in order to improve the health and well-being of every Oregonian and every Oregon community."
Clearly, in his new role at OHSU, Robertson is helping to improve more than the vision of his patients, taking a leadership role in illuminating the path ahead for improved health care throughout the state.