This Profile in Healthcare Leadership features R. Edward Howell, former CEO of the University of Virginia Medical Center.

The University of Virginia


Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia (UVa) in 1819, and The School of Medicine officially opened in 1825. Jefferson considered UVA to be one of his greatest achievements—so much so he had it engraved on his tombstone. But Jefferson also knew it would take great leaders with courage and skill to protect, grow, and steward UVa through the ages.  It would also take noble people that could put aside their own self-interests.

Stewardship: The Noblest Form of Leadership

In 2002, R. Edward Howell stepped into this role and became Chief Executive Officer of UVa, retiring in 2013. In “Stewardship: the Noblest Form of Leadership,” Mr. Howell shares leadership lessons and insights from the unique perspective of a former high school biology teacher and football, basketball, and track coach from Zanesville, Ohio – living up to the aspirations and legacy of Thomas Jefferson.  You’ll learn that…

  • Stewardship is not about keeping the organization intact; instead, you must make an organization better than you found it.
  • Stewardship is future-tense thinking and decision-making with only one goal:  leaving your organization better than it is today to serve those who come for care.
  • Great achievements are not children of marginal successes.

Furthermore, Mr. Howell reveals how to ask and answer the noblest of questions, “What’s your plan for leaving your organization better than you found it?”

About Profiles in Healthcare Leadership

Compass Clinical Consulting’s Profiles in Healthcare Leadership are the result of interviews with transformational leaders in today’s healthcare industry— men and women who have demonstrated courage, ingenuity and the hard work needed to create dramatic, measurable and sustainable improvements in their hospitals. They challenge assumptions, see things differently and enable remarkable breakthroughs. These leaders freely convey insights that we all can use to improve the way we deliver healthcare, and in the process, give us new ideas on how to make better American hospitals.

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