In his inimitable, genteel fashion, Donald Cramp sent word last month to colleagues and friends that he is retiring from the Hospitals and Higher Education Facilities Authority of Philadelphia on Sept. 14. The date neatly coincides with the 30th anniversary of the founding of the authority, Cramp's 45th year in healthcare and the 17th anniversary of his appointment as its president and CEO. As customary under Cramp's helm, the news was released in an "open letter," accompanied by a handwritten note of thanks.
As the leader of the regional authority, Cramp has led efforts to provide private capital for the revitalization of healthcare institutions in Philadelphia. Through 2000, the authority-which raises money through the tax-exempt bond market for construction, expansions and renovations-oversaw a bond portfolio worth more than $4 billion. During part of that period, Cramp helped navigate hospitals through a bond market roiled by the 1998 bankruptcy of the Allegheny Health, Education and Research Foundation.
"Obviously we greet the news with very much mixed emotions," says Andrew Wigglesworth, president of the Delaware Valley Healthcare Council of the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania. "He is a man with extraordinary integrity and discretion, which is ideal for financial markets."
Cramp, who holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and Canada, earned a bachelor's degree with honors from the Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario in London in 1960 and a master's degree at Columbia University in New York.
His professional career in hospital care started in 1966 when he served as assistant administrator at South Nassau Communities Hospital, Oceanside, N.Y. He worked as the top executive at hospitals in Cleveland; Louisville, Ky; Columbus, Ohio; and Edmonton, Alberta, before moving to Philadelphia and the authority in 1987.
In his open letter, Cramp says he has accepted "a very appealing offer" involving "family opportunities" with "my caring wife of 34 years" and "our ambitious son and his gifted wife." A return to academia also beckons him as well as "distant visits to ailing loved ones long delayed," he says.