July 12, 2001
Vol. 20 No. 19

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    Riordan now heading the Hospitals as CEO

    By John Easton
    Medical Center Public Affairs

    On Sunday, July 1, Michael Riordan became President and Chief Executive Officer of the University Hospitals and Health System. Riordan has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for the Hospitals since May 2000, when the University recruited him from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Ga. There he served as Chief Operating Officer and also had held the position of Senior Associate Administrator for both Emory and Crawford Long hospitals.

    Riordan succeeds Ralph Muller, who served as President of the University Hospitals since 1986. In March, Muller announced his decision to step down.

    “Mike was someone who had proven leadership skills, knew health care and hospital management inside and out, and was very well acquainted with our hospital, having run the operations side for more than a year,” said Paula Wolff, chair of the Hospitals’ Board of Trustees.

    “He also was someone who quickly impressed us as a team builder, a person who could bring together very different groups and form them into durable and highly functional partnerships.”

    The change in leadership does not herald a radical change in direction, said Riordan. “I’ve been here for a year and helped develop and implement the current strategic initiatives,” he said. “Like everyone else, I’m particularly excited about the new Children’s Hospital.”

    He does intend, however, to pay a good deal of attention to internal operations. “Ralph Muller came from a budget and policy-oriented background, and that shaped his thinking,” said Riordan. “I come from a systems improvement and operations background. In fact, after working in the Department of Nursing as a graduate assistant, my first hospital job was in a storeroom. So while we plan to continue our efforts in the policy and government arenas, I also want to find new ways to make the Hospitals run more smoothly and efficiently and to provide absolutely first-rate clinical services.

    “I want us to be at the forefront of medicine nationally, not just because of our clinical reputation, but also in our commitment to how well we take care of the people who work hereóclinical and support staff, nurses, physicians and residents. We want to provide a work environment that enables them to keep us on top.”

    Riordan, 42, was born and raised in New Jersey. He received his B.A. in liberal arts and English in 1980 and his M.A. in education and psychology in 1981, both from Columbia University. He coached football and student taught for a brief time before joining the U.S. Marine Corps, in which he served from 1981 to 1985.

    Following his military service, Riordan attended Georgia Institute of Technology and was a graduate assistant assigned to Nursing Services at Crawford Long Hospital. He graduated with a master’s degree in health systems in 1986 and subsequently served in progressively more responsible operations management roles at Crawford Long until he was asked to become the chief operating officer at Emory University Hospital System in 1995. After he spent five years at Emory, the University recruited Riordan in May 2000.

    “The history of health care is one of continual change,” said Riordan. “This is a time of formidable challenges and remarkable opportunities, and this is an institution that has not only risen to the challenge but has repeatedly led the way. That’s a history that I’m proud to be part of and excited to help move forward.”