For his efforts tackling the complexities of healthcare management, and for five decades of providing academic instruction to future generations of healthcare leaders, Griffith, 80, is one of this year's inductees to Modern Healthcare's Health Care Hall of Fame.
Currently professor emeritus, he last served as the Andrew Pattullo collegiate professor in the department of health management and policy at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he had been on the faculty since 1960. He's also a consultant to numerous private and public organizations. As the author of more than a dozen textbooks, he had no shortage of material to shape his curricula, but his main focus has been to help both graduate students and practicing healthcare executives translate book knowledge into actual applications.
“A textbook does not impart skills, it imparts facts,” Griffith said. “To teach students skills you have to get them to apply what is in the textbook.”
Former students recall real-world application as being a major priority in Griffith's classroom.
“The skills in the textbook taught us how to use science to solve the problems, but when in the real world, a great deal of art must be applied,” said Peter Butler, president and chief operating officer at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and one of Griffith's nominators for the award. “The culture of an organization can derail the best-laid plans. He helped teach us how to bridge the gap between the science and art of managing.”
Butler said Griffith saw each encounter with a student as a new opportunity to shape the future. “Whether in the classroom or in the various forums in which he leads or participates, he is a role model for helping us work on the right things with the right values guiding our decisions.”