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Richard E. Hug: Mentor, advisor, friend

All of us mourn the loss of Richard E. Hug, who had a profound impact on the civic and political life of our community (May 7). I thought it might be useful to single out the incredible impact that Dick had on the formative years of the University of Maryland Medical System beginning in 1984 and continuing to this day.

In our privatization process beginning in 1984, Dick was a key member of the first board of directors and, equally important to me, he was a mentor, a patient advisor and a great personal friend.

His passion and dedication to our mission was strong, as many of our early supporters will remember. The early years of our development as an organization found us devoted to our mission, "to heal, to teach, to discover." Dick got it.

As a businessman, he was a great influence on our early efforts to improve our financial and organizational management. I will never forget a statement he made to one of our respected clinical leaders who challenged our commitment to improve financial accountability. The clinical leader said his job was not to be concerned with financial operations. He cared only about our mission of research, education and caring for patients.

Dick responded quickly: "No money, no mission." This balancing credo has reverberated through our institution for many years, and it has served us well.

Dick assumed an important leadership role in our philanthropy program that resulted in the construction of the Gudelsky Building at the Medical Center. This was a $200 million dollar project built between 1992 and 1996. That was a precursor to almost $1 billion in capital improvements at the University of Maryland Medical Center over a period of 12 years. He was creative, provocative and enormously tenacious. Many will remember how he never took "no" for an answer.

Thousands of patients who have come to the University of Maryland Medical Center for care and healing have benefited from the leadership Dick provided. Most will never know who Dick Hug was and how important he was to our institution and to their care.

As the first CEO of the University of Maryland Medical System, I feel a great sense of gratitude and loss. Dick Hug was a man who had an enormous impact that we will experience for many years to come.

Dr. Morton I. Rapoport, Baltimore

The writer is former CEO of the University of Maryland Medical System.

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