Professional Achievement Award
Even as a youth, Richard planned on one day donning a white coat and stethoscope.
“My uncle, a Marquette grad, was a respected physician, and the father of my girlfriend, also a Marquette grad, was an Oshkosh physician widely admired,” he recalls.
But feeling a pull toward education, Richard instead used his medical degree to influence countless other aspiring physicians. He spent 30 years at Harvard Medical School, where he was faculty dean for clinical affairs and still holds the title of Henry Isaiah Dorr Professor of Research and Teaching in Anesthesia and Anesthetics, Emeritus. Previously, he was co-director of the Harvard–MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, chair of the Anesthesiology Department at Massachusetts General Hospital, and associate professor for Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. He also served as a medical officer for the U.S. Navy and was assigned to the Marine Corps in Japan in 1955–56.
Naturally humble, Richard says his personal formula for success is simple: “Assuming the qualities of integrity, education/intelligence, interest in helping others and hard work, then the key is to be nice, nicer, the nicest!”
In addition to his reputation as a genuinely nice guy, Richard is also internationally known for his research in the anesthesiology field, and his achievements include five patents; 50 original reports; and more than 30 reviews, book chapters and editorials. Equally important, his impact on the academic medical field lives on in his former students, more than 70 of whom went on to lead departments around the world.
Although Richard is now retired, his passion for helping the next generation of students continues today at Marquette, where he established the Dr. Richard Kitz Endowed Scholarship Fund and Dr. Richard Kitz Athletic Scholarship Fund. He is thankful to Marquette for “inculcating the values and attitudes essential to a life of helping others,” he says.
The Marquette mission also infused his ethical, thoughtful approach to leadership.
“When you think about being chief of a huge anesthesia service, responsible for people’s careers, you’re making decisions all the time,” he told the Medical College of Wisconsin after he was named Alumnus of the Year by the Medical College of Wisconsin/Marquette Medical Alumni Association in 2009. “I learned how to make the right decisions at Marquette — how to look at questions, make hypotheses, test hypotheses, look at data to see if hypotheses are supported or not. Those habits have stayed with me.”
Although his career took him in a different direction than he initially planned, he has no regrets. As he told a Harvard publication when he was first appointed as faculty dean for clinical affairs, “My dad always said, ‘If you do something, do something important.’”
Hometown: Oshkosh, Wis.
Favorite quote: “We don’t have problems, only opportunities.”
Dream dinner guests: “My parents, both deceased, and an old girlfriend!”
Marquette faculty who had an impact: “Walter Zeit, Ph.D., Marquette Medical School professor, and Dean John Hirschboeck.”
Favorite Marquette memories: “The joy of learning! Mass at Gesu!”
Marquette legacy: “Funding athletic and educational fellowships.”
Most influential person: “My father, a non-physician, and Emmanuel Papper, M.D., of Columbia University.”