OHSU mourns the loss of School of Medicine Dean Mark Richardson

September 6, 2016

Dean Mark RichardsonOregon Health & Science University has experienced a foundational loss with the death of OHSU Executive Vice President and School of Medicine Dean Mark Richardson Sept. 2 from injuries suffered during a steep fall while completing a home repair Aug. 13. He was 66.

Dean Richardson, M.D., M.Sc.B., M.B.A., an otolaryngologist, was the 14th dean of the OHSU School of Medicine, serving since July 2007. He led the school and the university with distinction, guiding the faculty and staff through a period of unprecedented growth and unparalleled achievement across all of the university's missions, including education, research, health care and service.

"Mark was a devoted clinician, an inspiring and accomplished leader, a warm, caring and engaging person and a dear, dear friend," said Joe Robertson, M.D., M.B.A., president of OHSU, and acting dean since Dr. Richardson's accident. "The intensity of this loss is felt not only because of Mark's leadership, but because of his genuine interest in, knowledge of and concern for every enterprise of the school and the students, faculty and staff at all levels."

Dr. Richardson graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina and trained in Florida, South Carolina, Ohio and the United Kingdom. He is an internationally known specialist in pediatric otolaryngology and was consistently listed among the Best Doctors in America. He had a distinguished faculty career in Seattle and Baltimore before coming to OHSU to lead the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery in 2001. He was named interim dean in 2006 and dean a year later.

Dr. Richardson and his wife, Ellen Richardson, established a scholarship with the Portland, Oregon chapter of Achievement Rewards for College Scientists Foundation, of which Mrs. Richardson is a founding member. The foundation invests in academically outstanding young people working to complete doctoral degrees in science, engineering or medical research at OHSU, Oregon State University and University of Oregon.

Accolades for Dr. Richardson's contributions and impact came from all corners of the university following the Labor Day weekend, starting Tuesday morning at the monthly meeting of the Faculty Practice Plan Board of Directors of which Dr. Richardson was president and chair.

"In addition to being an outstanding dean, Mark was a brilliant clinician," said Nathan Selden, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.S., F.A.A.P., chair of neurological surgery, at the meeting. "I had the privilege of working with him in the operating room and the clinic. He was as wonderful a clinician as he was a leader, bringing warmth and wisdom to patients and colleagues alike. He will be deeply missed."

Joey Peizner, an OHSU Food and Nutrition caterer who has been providing the coffee at meetings of university leaders for 23 years stood outside the meeting room Tuesday morning in tears.

"Dr. Richardson brought great value and leadership to OHSU in his work with the faculty and the medical students," Peizner said. "He also greeted me and brought cheer into my life every time I saw him. He acknowledged people no matter their position at OHSU. He made us all feel part of the team."

Suzy Funkhouser, a fourth-year medical student at OHSU and former government relations staffer for the university, described Dr. Richardson as a mentor.

"He believed in me even when I doubted myself and always inspired me to do my best," she said. "He was kind, generous, brilliant and always available to help. Simply put, his integrity and character were the heart of the School of Medicine." 

Dr. Richardson is survived by his wife; two daughters, Abby and Caroline; their husbands; four grandchildren, and brother Pete Richardson and his wife.

A campus memorial service is being planned. The OHSU Foundation and the Richardson family have set up the Mark A. Richardson Deanship Endowment. Contributions can be made online.