Reflections on Mary Stefl, Ph.D.: HCAD Program, Retirement, and Next Chapter
Mary Stefl, Ph.D., longtime HCAD professor, former department chair, and current director of the Center for Leadership Development in Health Management, will retire from Trinity University at the end of June. During her distinguished 34-year tenure, she led the HCAD program to become one of the most successful and well known in the nation. (U.S. News and World Report recently listed it among the country’s top ten graduate health care programs.) Her contributions to both the Trinity program and the broader profession were nationally recognized in 2004 with the prestigious Filerman Prize for Innovation in Health Administration Education. Stefl formed an advisory council that sought input from alumni, a popular initiative among her efforts to foster an exceptionally strong and engaged alumni support network—widely considered one of the great benefits of the program. She also launched a major capital campaign that met its $3 million goal and attracted an additional $7 million in legacy gift commitments.
In addition to these accomplishments, Bob Shaw ’69, ’72, believes Stefl’s most important contribution was positioning the program for the future through the recruitment of the next generation of faculty and continued improvement in the curriculum to keep it relevant to the times. “She has personally touched many of us, and we are all the better for it,” Shaw says.
Jim Bohnsack ’97, ’99, a past president of the HCAD Alumni Association and current member of the Advisory Board, notes, “From the day I entered the program and throughout my involvement on the Board, Dr. Stefl has always focused on leading by example and focusing on the future. It was appropriate that she taught the capstone class at Trinity. Her class tied it all together and served as the stepping stone as we launched our careers.”
Having worked with Stefl on HCAD Annual Fund campaigns, Corinne Smith ’86, ’94 recalls Stefl’s passionate determination to use this fund for student scholarships and other opportunities such as attending the ACHE Annual Congress in Chicago and entering invaluable case competitions. Smith also appreciates the many discussions she had with Stefl about the unique challenges facing women in the field and lauds her as a role model, mentor, and advocate for other women in the profession. “I’ve long admired her multifaceted skills as an academician, author, editor, researcher, speaker, convener, and community advocate,” she says. “Trinity’s HCAD program will look very different without her, and she will be missed.”
HCAD professor and chair Ed Schumacher sums up the feeling of many when he says, “It is difficult to overstate the impact that she has had on our program and the overall field of health care management. Through her leadership as department chair as well as nationally through AUPHA and CAHME the past 30 years, she has been leading the way in health administration education and has left a lasting legacy in the field. There are countless health care executives who are in the positions they are in today because of her service.”
As she moves into the next phase of her life, Stefl may be busier than ever. She looks forward to “a little traveling for fun” but remains committed to the HCAD program and will do some development work. She will continue her many community activities including service on the board of the Humane Society, the alumni board of the Masters Leadership Program, and the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce’s Healthcare and Bioscience Committee. She’s also on the Advisory Board for the Patient Institute and Foundation Board for the Ecumenical Council. Although she will be busy, Stefl says she’ll most miss “the students, my colleagues, and the variety of perspectives that a liberal (arts) college promotes.”
Many echo the sentiments of Bohnsack, who adds, “We will miss her dearly, but the legacy she leaves behind will benefit Trinity University and the health care industry for generations to come.”
Words by Mary Denny