Howard at the Helm

Meet Howard Rundle, the new Chair of the Board of Directors of St. Joseph’s Health Care London.

He is a research scientist who led one of Ontario’s largest colleges for nearly two decades. Now Howard Rundle has a brand new role – one that melds the researcher in him with governance prowess and passion for education and community service. He is the new Chair of the Board of Directors of St. Joseph’s Health Care London.

Following a distinguished, 40-year leadership career at Fanshawe College, where he was the longest-serving President (1995 to 2013), Howard was looking to volunteer in the community when he joined St. Joseph’s as a community member on the Board’s Resource Planning Committee in 2013. When later approached to join the Board as a Director, he was inspired to say yes.  

Howard Rundle“I have always respected the quality of service that St. Joseph’s provides and was honoured to be asked.”

A much-lauded President Emeritus with a PhD in physical chemistry, Howard brings unique expertise and perspective to governance at St. Joseph’s and is excited to sit “on the other side of the table” from his CEO days. At the same time, he is no newcomer to volunteerism having served on numerous boards. 

Throughout his life, in fact, Howard has been devoted to bringing out the best in others. He received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 for his outstanding contribution to education and was inducted into the London and District Business Hall of Fame in 2013. He has also received Colleges and Institutes Canada’s Distinguished Service Award, and the Ontario Minister of Colleges and Universities Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2017, Howard was inducted as a Member of the Order of Canada, one of our country's highest civilian honours.

But Howard’s experience with St. Joseph’s extends beyond the board room. Forty-five years ago, he was in the delivery room at St. Joseph’s Hospital to witness the birth of his daughter. He became good friends with the obstetrician and the anesthetist was his cousin. His wife, Lynda, would later work part time at St. Joseph’s for 10 years, and his daughter would go on to become a nurse and marry a paramedic. 

Here, St. Joseph’s new Chair talks about why he’s delighted to be at the helm of one Canada’s leading and most complex health organizations at this time of health system transformation:

Q. In your time with St. Joseph’s (since 2013), what stands out the most to you? 

A. Most impressive to me about St. Joseph’s is the strong culture of putting the patient first and delivering the highest quality care possible. St. Joseph’s truly does provide care with a difference.

Q. As a research scientist, is there a sense that you are coming back to your roots?

A. Very much so since my first involvement was to chair a newly formed Board of Directors of Lawson Health Research Institute. This was after St. Joseph’s official research centre – called Lawson Research Institute at the time – merged with London Health Sciences Centre Research Inc to become the research institute of both London’s hospitals. I think my knowledge of research helped me to articulate the importance and value of clinical research to the boards of the two hospitals.

Q.  Do you feel your role as Chair of Lawson Health Research Institute’s Board of Directors will influence your Chair role at St. Joseph’s? 

A.  Absolutely. My time as Chair impressed upon me the value of clinical research in improving the quality of care and the challenge of funding that research in a very constrained funding environment. 

Q. What excites you about being Board Chair of St. Joseph’s? 

A. I have long enjoyed leadership roles and worked with a board for many years as CEO of Fanshawe College. I thought it would be interesting to be on the other side of the table. I hope we can streamline the more routine board work and have more time to discuss strategic issues such as opportunities for St. Joseph’s to further develop integrated delivery systems in context with St. Joseph’s mission, vision, values and strategic priorities. 

Q.  What do you feel are the biggest challenges and/or opportunities we face as an organization at this time of health care transformation? 

A.  As a Catholic health care organization, St. Joseph’s has a long tradition of meeting the needs of the most vulnerable. This work is embedded in our mission. We also have a tradition of being good partners in the health care system, of respecting and valuing our partners, thinking broadly and carefully about the health of the people and communities we serve, and being good financial stewards. These are attributes of leadership that are needed in the system and will serve St. Joseph’s well in the months and years to come as health care delivery shifts. Among the challenges faced by St. Joseph’s – and all hospitals – at this time is the uncertainty of just how Ontario Health Teams should evolve and how the Ontario Health Team for Middlesex will be governed to best serve our population.

Q.  What are your hopes and dreams for St. Joseph’s in the long run?

A.  In the face of evolving health care delivery, it’s vital to preserve the strong culture of service originally instilled by the Sisters of St. Joseph. This is the indomitable foundation of our outstanding organization. This year will see St. Joseph’s oldest site – Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care – celebrate 150 years. And just as it was 150 years ago, our calling is to serve with excellence, care and compassion. This is a remarkable legacy and a testament to the strength of St. Joseph’s mission, vision and values. It is perhaps more important now than at any other time to be fully engaged in change and advocate for solutions that ensure the populations we serve receive the care they need. 

Q.  What do you do for fun? 

A.  I enjoy time at a family cottage on an island in the St. Lawrence River, particularly with family – my wife, children and grandchildren. I also enjoy curling, downhill and cross country skiing, reading and doing puzzles.

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