Opening Lines

I thought I would stay a year.

That was my plan in 1973 when I arrived at the University of Iowa as a pediatric nephrologist researching the fetal kidney. I didn’t know much about Iowa except that it was a great place to live and raise our children. I also knew that I wanted to work with Dr. Fred Smith, who was the new department chair in pediatrics. I found a welcoming community and an exciting, collaborative university that was clearly on the way up. I gave up my research grants at the University of Montreal, and with my wife, Renée, started a new life here in Iowa.

I learned so much in those early days from leaders like Dr. Smith, who was a fabulous clinical leader, educator, and humanist. Throughout the years, I continued to enjoy the support of UI leaders such as Gary Fethke, Sally Mason, and Bruce Harreld.

I have spent most of my career here because we have that rare environment that provides the freedom to be creative, to collaborate, to try new ideas, and to truly do your best work. I didn’t set out with an agenda to develop our science core structure, build a children’s hospital, or advance philanthropy the way we have. I saw what needed to be done and was given the opportunity to achieve our common dreams.

I’m proud of what our organization has accomplished over the years, but I cannot take all the credit. When we all agree on the path and then work together toward mutual success, we can all be proud of what we have accomplished. Today, we can also be excited by the opportunities ahead as we continue to expand our tripartite mission and care for more patients, educate more health care providers, and continue to make exciting scientific discoveries that lead to new cures and treatments.

Working with J. Brooks Jackson, MD, MBA, our new vice president for medical affairs and dean, I know you will continue to do even more great things in the future. I have no doubt our new leader will also find a welcoming community, a collaborative environment, and many, many great educators, scientists, physicians, and staff who are committed to changing medicine and changing lives, in Iowa and beyond. Let’s not forget, we are one university—the success of UI Health Care depends on the success of the university as well. I am looking forward to seeing all the great things that will happen as I transition to my new work in health care innovation.

Thank you for the privilege to serve.






Jean E. Robillard, MD