Our Founding Director, Robert Eilers
Founding Director Robert D. (Bob) Eilers, PhD was a visionary man whose interpersonal warmth and academic expertise provided the foundation of LDI’s success. When LDI began to take shape in the mid-1960s, his charisma, energy, and expertise in health insurance made him naturally well-suited to lead the new institute. He approached the position with passion and drive, and set the course that LDI follows to this day: to build a community of scholars across disciplines who would collaborate to redress “the rising cost and uneven distribution of health care” in the United States. Dr. EIlers understood that LDI's potential could only be realized by intertwining multiple disciplinary perspectives. From his first day as executive director, to his untimely death seven years later (on March 1, 1974), Dr. Eilers transformed his vision into reality.
He also realized that an educational component was crucial to LDI's success, both within the university and as a training ground for future health care leaders. And so he created an MBA major in 1970 — the first MBA program in health care management — and later undergraduate and doctoral concentrations, with the specific goal of training managers and analysts of health care systems.
As Professor of Insurance in The Wharton School, and Professor of Community Medicine in the School of Medicine, Dr. Eilers was an early architect of health maintenance organizations and had a national profile. He was heavily recruited by the White House to join their staff to help develop Nixon's national health care plan. He resisted, but did consult with the Nixon Administration and ultimately helped draft the HMO bill that passed in 1973.
Simply put, everything we do at LDI today has its roots in Bob Eilers' extraordinary vision, and we celebrate his legacy.