Obituary: Gordon K. MacLeod / Ex-professor at Pitt and former state secretary of health

Jan. 30, 1929-Nov. 25, 2007

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Gordon K. MacLeod, a physician and retired professor of health services administration at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, who also served as Pennsylvania secretary of health, died yesterday. He was 78.

Dr. MacLeod's widow, Jane, said her husband died from complications related to head injuries.

Though trained as a physician, Dr. MacLeod had a varied career, serving in intelligence in the Army and later as an industrial engineer for Proctor & Gamble in Cincinnati.

Dr. MacLeod grew up in Boston and graduated from the prestigious Boston Latin School.

After serving in the Army at Camp Gordon, Ga., he attended Blackburn College in Carlinville, Ill.

He was hired as an engineer for Proctor & Gamble but left after two years to pursue a career in medicine.

Upon receiving a medical degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Dr. MacLeod completed his internship and residency at the Boston City Hospital and the Massachusetts General Hospital.

He also completed a post-doctoral fellowship in pharmacology at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. MacLeod then became a faculty member at Yale Medical School, where he co-founded the Community Health Care Center Plan in New Haven, Conn. He also headed the Yale Diagnostic Clinic.

In 1971, Dr. MacLeod was recruited by Elliot Richardson, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, to develop the first federal HMO program. He became the program's first director.

In 1974, Dr. MacLeod joined the faculty at Pitt, where he authored more than 100 articles, monographs, chapters and books about health maintenance organizations, academic health centers, bioethics, international health care and reform of health care delivery and financing. He also co-edited and wrote several chapters in "Health Care Capital: Competition and Control," the first book written on capital financing of health care services.

In 1979, Dr. MacLeod was appointed state secretary of health. As secretary, he managed the health effects of the Three Mile Island accident as well as the polio epidemic among the Amish in the central part of the state.

Because of his desire to improve health care delivery and financing, Dr. MacLeod was invited to dozens of countries to assist in research or examine ways to restructure health care. As a consultant to the World Health Organization, Dr. MacLeod redesigned the health services administration curriculum at the University of the Philippines. He was also project director for a U.S.-sponsored program for implementing a health administration curriculum at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad.

He also lived and worked in New Zealand and taught health management in Moscow.

Dr. Beaufort Longest, professor and director of Pitt's Health Policy Institute, who has known Dr. MacLeod since 1980, said he's going to miss Dr. MacLeod's insights into public health.

"He was a public health leader," said Dr. Longest.

Another colleague, Dr. Elsie Broussard, has known Dr. MacLeod since he arrived at Pitt.

"He was always dedicated to public health," said Dr. Broussard. "He was a scholar and open to new ideas. But his influence went beyond the walls of the Graduate School of Public Health. He was actively involved at the university and served as president of the university senate and the faculty assembly."

In 1999, Dr. MacLeod served as academic dean for Pitt's Semester at Sea program, in which more than 600 undergraduates attended classes while sailing to foreign ports aboard an ocean liner. Among the countries visited were Vietnam, India, Croatia and Italy. In 2001, Dr. MacLeod was back at sea as part of the program.

In addition to Jane, Dr. MacLeod is survived by two sons, Gordon K. III of Point Breeze and Alexander B. of Portland, Maine; a sister, Mary Kennedy of South Freeport, Maine; and a brother, Bruce MacLeod of Philadelphia.

Memorial service arrangements are incomplete.

Nate Guidry can be reached at or 412-263-3865.


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