Interview with Donald G. Kassebaum, M.D. Public Deposited

Donald G. Kassebaum, M.D. (1931-2012) was a graduate of Reed College (1954) and later completed his M.D. at the University of Oregon Medical School. His residency training in internal medicine and cardiology was completed at UOMS and at the Veterans Hospital in Portland. In 1962, he joined the faculty of UOMS and later became Vice President and Director of Hospitals and Clinics at OHSU. As hospital director, he played a key role in the consolidation of the various schools into a university in 1974. In this interview, Dr. Kassebaum discusses his early life in Portland; some of his early mentors; the history of the relationship between the Medical School and the VA Hospital, and his research activities and his role in curriculum development at the university. Kassebaum also covers the crisis in administration that nearly precipitated a loss of accreditation, and his role in improving the fiscal situation of the University Hospital. Dr. Kassebaum shares his thoughts on the perceived failings of early administrators, including insularity, a lack of vision, disrespect for volunteer physicians, and a reluctance to grant admitting privileges for private physicians. He notes his own efforts to mend town-gown relations through continuing medical education programs and outreach to HMOs, as well as through his service on state committees for health planning. Notable people discussed in this interview include Dr. Howard “Hod” Lewis, Dr. Lewis “Bill” Bluemle, Dr. Leonard Laster, and Dr. Peter Kohler.

Publication Date
  • 1997-11-07
Document type
  • OHSU Oral History Program


  • Oral histories are considered historical materials. They are the personal recollections and opinions of the individuals involved and, therefore, may contain offensive language, ideas or negative stereotypes reflecting the culture or language of a person, period or place. Oral histories should not serve as the sole source of information about an institution or particular historical events. These narratives should in no way be interpreted as the official history of Oregon Health & Science University, nor do they necessarily represent the views of the institution.