From Part-Time Student to CEO
Douglas Leonard is a ‘76 IU South Bend graduate who never expected to earn a college degree. He grew up on the west side of South Bend with his three siblings, raised by their widowed mother. Doug didn't know anyone who went to college, didn't believe he was smart enough to attend, and didn't think he could afford it.
Out of high school, Doug worked for the South Bend Medical Foundation, surrounded by professionals. He recalls, "There were several moments in my life where a single conversation encouraged me to explore a new possibility. I was in a low-paying job, which was not going to lead to a career. I was encouraged by a co-worker to consider taking classes at IU South Bend."
Doug gained admittance to the university on academic probation.After two semesters he improved his standing and was committed to attending full-time. Doug took great pride in saying he was a college student, and knew no matter what happened in life, "No one can take this (degree) away from me."
Upon earning his Bachelor of Science in Business from IU South Bend, Doug went on to earn a Master of Science in Health Administration from IUPUI where his coursework included an internship at Columbus Regional Hospital.
In an unusual turn of events, Doug stayed at the hospital for 30 years, moving up the ladder from intern to CEO. At the hospital, Doug's greatest pride came from the culture changes he instituted.
Doug recognized they couldn't be the best at everything, but insisted they could be the best at everything they did. Under this philosophy the hospital was the first in the state to receive the American Nurse Credentialing Center’s Magnet Nursing Accreditation (2005) for excellence in nursing and the American Hospital Association’s Quest for Quality Prize (2007) for quality and safety.
After 10 years as CEO at Columbus Regional Hospital, Doug was recruited away to become the president of the Indiana Hospital Association.The South Bend native who hadn't been college-bound not only led an award-winning hospital, but became the chief advocate for 170 hospitals in Indiana.
About his career Doug shares, "I can say, without hesitation, that my career, and my good fortune, would not have been possible without the presence of, and the quality of, IU South Bend."