Aafter almost 50 years at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center looks back on Jeffrey Romoff with a sense of achievement that few people in Pittsburgh can match during this time. He is the visionary leader who, along with the man who hired him 48 years ago – the late Dr. Thomas Detre – who made a loose association of six Pittsburgh healthcare facilities into the 40 hospital giant now known as the UPMC.
At a time when decline was the buzzword in almost every corner of the Pittsburgh region, Romoff provided the striking counterexample and founded a $ 23 billion company with subsidiaries in Ireland, Italy, China and Kazakhstan. With 92,000 employees, UPMC is the largest non-state employer in Pennsylvania, recruiting the best and brightest medical professionals to Pittsburgh.
Romoff is also the person most responsible for catalytically creating the Pittsburgh Promise, which boosted the city’s population by helping countless high school students in the city advance to higher education through scholarships, largely funded by UPMC to visit.
And yet he was always reluctant to receive local recognition for this enormous impetus for Pittsburgh. Some criticized his top-down style or personality, or the fact that he did not greet unions with open arms or the zeal with which he fought against metropolitan rivals Allegheny General and Highmark, who joined forces to form rival Allegheny Health Network.
The litany of lawsuits and criticisms recalls Jonathan Swift’s quote: “When a true genius shows up in the world, you can recognize him by this sign that all fools are allied against him.” That may be an exaggeration, but the fact is that Jeffrey Romoff created a world-class healthcare system and economic giant that is unlikely to go away like so many others here have done. For this he deserves the respect and gratitude of all western Pennsylvanians.
Death in the desert
The Carnegie Museums recently requested public feedback on the diorama, which was originally known as “Arab Courier Attacked by Lions” but was renamed “Lion Attacking a Dromedary” in 2017. The museum had removed the exhibition from the public display in July 2020 because of the Black Lives Matter movement and feared the exhibition could offend people.
Our feedback to the museum is that this diorama, considered a masterpiece by French taxidermist Edouard Verreaux and a gold medalist at the Paris Exhibition of 1867, should be displayed in a clearly visible manner by the museum. In the blink of an eye, the dramatic work shows viewers what life could have been like for courier, camel and lion alike – regardless of the shortcomings noted by academics and social justice advocates.
Explainers, who draw the visitor’s attention to historical inaccuracies and perceived insensitivity, correspond to the educational mission of the museum. Just don’t block the view. We applaud the museum’s decision in July to remove the ridiculous veil that had surrounded the exhibition (as if the 154-year-old work was just too shocking and controversial for today’s sensitive audience).
When in doubt, re-read your history of founding America, particularly James Madison’s Federalist 10 on the tyranny of factions, both majority and minority. Let us not let the fear of factions of any kind dictate what to see in Pittsburgh and what not.
American Institute for the Middle East
Thanks to the American Middle East Institute, one of the largest advanced manufacturing conferences in the world will be held in Pittsburgh next September, the Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit (GMIS).
Set to attract thousands and accelerate downtown revitalization after COVID, GMIS brings together global investors and decision makers, including heads of state. It’s a great opportunity to showcase Pittsburgh’s universities and corporations, its technology ecosystem of robotics and artificial intelligence, and how all of these parts can improve clean energy production in various industries to the world.
Regional leaders should support these efforts and help make them a reality.