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Building on success

M.H.A. alum gives back to his ‘calling’ through scholarship

By Nicole Endres

Patrick G. Hays, M.H.A., has had plenty of career success.

Patrick G. Hays, M.H.A. [Photo courtesy of Trinity Health]

Hays founded Sutter Health in Sacramento, California, in 1980. Today the organization is recognized as one of the country’s top integrated health systems. Hays also served from 1995 to 2000 as president and CEO of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, the national coordinating body for the nation’s independent BCBS plans — 49 at that time. And in 2003, he received the American College of Healthcare Executives’ Gold Medal Award.

Though his own personal determination surely cannot be discounted, Hays is quick to credit his education at the University of Minnesota for those achievements.

“If I’ve had any professional success, Minnesota is the reason,” says the 1971 alumnus of the School of Public Health’s Master of Healthcare Administration (M.H.A.) program. “I believe that the program gave me the grounding to go ahead and do this stuff.”

The huge network of beneficent Minnesota M.H.A. alumni leaders throughout the country also has impressed him over the years. In his first job, Hays worked under alumnus Stanley R. Nelson, M.H.A., the first nonphysician CEO of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

“He’s what I call my professional father. He … mentored me throughout my career,” Hays says. “I concluded that he was an organizational genius, but I don’t think he knew that.”

Minnesota alumni also held prominent leadership positions at Hays’s second job, at Methodist Medical Center in Peoria, Illinois, and at his third job, with Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles, he recalls.

To show his gratitude for being set up for success, Hays has created a scholarship for current M.H.A. students. He gave $25,000 in 2009 to establish the Patrick G. Hays Leadership Scholarship and has set aside another $500,000 in his estate plans for the fund.

Hays also has supported students and alumni by serving as a preceptor, adviser, and mentor throughout his career.

“In my day, we were inculcated with the notion of health service administration as a profession and a calling — not a business,” he says. “Part of being a professional was you give back.”

To support the M.H.A. program, contact Adam Buhr at 612-626-2391 or, or visit

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