Romney Institute Alumnus Honored as Administrator of the Year

CEO of award-winning health system addresses students

Brigham Young University's Romney Institute of Public Management honored alumnus Rulon Stacey as this year's Administrator of the Year for his role in rescuing a small, struggling health system in Northern Colorado and transforming it into an award-winning health care system.

Local health care administrators joined faculty and students on March 11 to listen to Stacey, president and CEO of Poudre Valley Health System, speak about the path he helped pave toward receiving the prestigious 2008 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. The award, announced by then-President George W. Bush, recognizes successful performance strategies for U.S. businesses and nonprofits.

"For BYU to honor me is the greatest distinction I have received in connection with this award," Stacey said to an audience of around 200.

Five CEOs had filtered through Poudre Valley in the four years preceding Stacey's appointment at the hospital, which made for some rough soil from which to grow. But Stacey was determined to create a health organization that performed within the top 10 percent of all health systems in the country. Before his tenure, Poudre Valley used to measure its performance on whether it fell above the national average. When Stacey, as the newly minted CEO, told employees his vision to transform Poudre Valley into a world-class health organization, the employees laughed.

"Why would we want to be just above average?" Stacey asked.

Stacey now lectures around the world about Poudre Valley's success. The organization has sustained growth in patient satisfaction for eight consecutive years — an accomplishment only 2 percent of health care organizations have achieved. Poudre Valley has also nearly quadrupled its revenues and improved rural health care to make it beneficial both for hospitals and patients.

Since Stacey became CEO, Poudre Valley has been recognized twice as one of America's 100 Best Places to Work in Health Care by Modern Healthcare. Thomson Reuters placed Poudre Valley Hospital in the top 100 in the country for five consecutive years. And the health system has expanded from a 1,500-employee operation with an annual revenue of $250 million to a 4,500-employee organization with $1 billion in annual revenue. 

Stacey chalked up this success to a common vision held among all employees: to provide world-class health care. Stacey relayed the story of President John F. Kennedy visiting the NASA Space Center in Houston after announcing his goal to send a man to the moon. When Kennedy asked a janitor what he did, the janitor said he worked every day to put a man on the moon.

"We want all of our employees to say, ‘I work every day of my life to provide world-class health care," Stacey said.

This employee-centered mentality is a main reason why Poudre Valley has succeeded in reaching the 90th percentile in customer satisfaction, Stacey added. This success helped to inspire students who attended his lecture.

"It was tremendously humbling to hear Stacey, whose success is uncontested, be so clear and unapologetic in his advice to maximize the opportunities we have at the Romney Institute," says Seth  Melling, a second-year MPA student with an emphasis in finance from Manchester, Conn. "He sincerely believes in our ability to make a major impact in the world."

Stacey graduated in 1986 with a master's in health administration. Since then he has been helping to improve health systems and the community around him.

"We are making people live," Stacey says. "I really believe there are people alive today who would not be if there were not people committed to providing world-class health care."

The Romney Institute of Public Management was named in 1998 for three-term Michigan governor George W. Romney. Part of Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Management, the Romney Institute offers a master's degree in public administration through both pre-service and executive programs. The Romney Institute has a long tradition of preparing young people for careers in public service and is dedicated to educating men and women of faith, character and professional ability who will become outstanding managers and leaders in public and nonprofit institutions worldwide.

Media Contact: Joseph Ogden (801) 422-8938
Writer: Sara Elizabeth Payne