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Shirley Weis: Reforming the Mayo Clinic

Published on: 06/18/2012
Shirley Weis

By Robert Bao

            The Mayo Clinic boasts perhaps the top brand name in health care.  Today, with 56,000 employees, more than a million face-to-face patients and $9 billion in revenue a year, the Mayo Clinic continues to hum under the leadership of Shirley Weis, ’75, chief administrative officer since 2007—the clinic’s eighth CAO in its 140 years. Weis took charge at a time of a national financial crisis, so she spearheaded a monumental effort to contain costs and reinvent health care management, sagely winning the cooperation of employees.  “We were able to cut expenses dramatically but we didn’t lay anyone off,” says Shirley, who notes with pride that the Mayo Clinic has made Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” for eight straight years.  “We continue to ride that wave,” she says.  “Our surveys show that we’re the most trusted name in health, worldwide, and we guard our brand jealously.  We do very little advertising—it’s mostly word of mouth.”  She is working on a strategic plan for the next five years, trying to “take our knowledge and deliver it to people.  Our motto is touching people here, there and everywhere.”  Shirley notes that besides the three campuses in Rochester, MN, Florida and Arizona, the Mayo Clinic has a number of affiliates, laboratory systems as well as mayoclinic.com, through which they touch some 20 million people a year.  Winner of an MSU Distinguished Alumni award, Shirley joined the MSU College of Nursing Advisory Countil in 1999 and served as its chair for the past three years.  She has also established an endowed scholarship fund to honor her parents, Charles E. and Harriet L. Bader, of Howell, and was instrumental in getting university endorsement for the college’s Life Sciences Building Campaign.   

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