SEATTLE – Dr. John R. Hogness, who spent five tempestuous years as the 26th president of the University of Washington after working to establish a pioneering four-state medical education program, had died at age 85.
Hogness, an internist who served as the first president of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the first medical director of what is now the University of Washington Medical Center, died Monday at a retirement home of heart and kidney failure.
Born in Oakland, Calif., Hogness attended Haverford College, earned a medical degree from the University of Chicago and came to Washington’s fledgling School of Medicine in 1950, becoming chief medical resident of what is now Harborview Medical Center.
He felt he made his biggest contributions to the university as dean of the rapidly growing medical school in 1964-69, said one of his sons, E. Rusten Hogness, of Healdsburg, Calif.
For the next two years, Hogness was university vice president of health sciences, playing a key role in founding the WAMI program in 1971. The medical education network made the university the medical school for Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. Wyoming later joined the program.
On his first day as university president in 1974, federal officials threatened to cancel all of Washington’s grants within a month unless affirmative action programs were fixed.
A month after he took office, a protest against a political science department refusal to offer tenure to a Hispanic professor from California escalated into a campus sit-in. Hogness subsequently fired two Hispanic leaders and suspended another, resulting in protest resignations by 20 additional Hispanic faculty and staffers.
In 1976 he told the Faculty Senate a state funding squeeze had left the university on the “brink of disaster.” Hogness was torn between the concerns of protesters and the need to maintain the university’s fiscal health, his son said.
“I think he felt his hands were tied,” his son said. “As president, he spent so much time trying to raise money that he couldn’t put a mark on the institution in anything like the way which had been possible as dean.”