Volunteer Spotlight

Ron Haddock, Longstanding Board of Visitors Chairman and President’s Advisory Board Member

Oil and gas titan reflects on two decades of engagement with UT Southwestern

He’s been named a Knight in the Order of the Crown in Belgium and Father of the Year at home, but among the honorifics bestowed on Ronald W. “Ron” Haddock, being considered a tireless volunteer for UT Southwestern Medical Center stands out.

Ron W. Haddock and his wife
Ron W. Haddock and his wife, Sandi Provided by Ron W. Haddock

He's served more than 20 years, first as a member of the Zale Lipshy University Hospital Board and continuing when it combined with St. Paul University Hospital. He then led UT Southwestern's Board of Visitors where he steered that group as Chairman and was a member throughout its 12-year existence. With the debut of the President’s Advisory Board, Mr. Haddock continued to play a central role, providing President Daniel K. Podolsky, M.D., and the institution’s leadership with guidance on opportunities and challenges facing the Medical Center and serving on the Patient Services Committee.

Mr. Haddock’s deep commitment to UT Southwestern dates to when his cardiologist discovered a 90% blockage in three of his primary coronary arteries. The revelation led the lifetime athlete to undergo heart bypass surgery and eventually heart valve replacement.

Recognizing the value of UT Southwestern’s mission of education, research and patient care, Mr. Haddock and his wife, Sandi, have made the institution part of their philanthropy. The couple supported the original construction of William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital, which opened in 2014, and the addition of the hospital’s third tower that opened last December. In recognition of their generosity, the hospital’s admissions area and dining room were named in their honor.

Ron W. And Sandi Haddock Admission Suite
Patients wait in the Ron W. And Sandi Haddock Admission Suite inside Clements University Hospital. The patient admission area was named in honor of the couple’s support of the hospital’s construction. David Gresham/UT Southwestern Medical Center
 Haddock Dining Room
UT Southwestern health care professionals take a break in the Haddock Dining Room in Clements University Hospital. The dining area was named in recognition of the Haddocks’ gift to support construction of the hospital's third tower. Mei-Chun Jau/UT Southwestern Medical Center

A mechanical engineer, Mr. Haddock built a career in the oil and gas sector. He served 23 years with Exxon before joining Fina as President and CEO, leading the company from 1989 until his retirement in 2000. An industry leader for more than 50 years, he boasts a resume that includes serving as Chairman for eight different companies.

Lending his business acumen to support a national leader in academic medicine, Mr. Haddock reflects on his commitment to the values of care and discovery that are hallmarks of UT Southwestern’s history.

How has UT Southwestern impacted you and your family?

UT Southwestern has made our lives better by providing me, my wife Sandi, and our entire family in the Dallas area top quality medical care, including through my two open heart surgeries, bladder cancer, and the plethora of issues that appear as the correlation between age and doctor visits is again confirmed. UT Southwestern has educated all of us regarding medical science, symptoms, and therapies through the various educational platforms, both in person and online. And UT Southwestern has encouraged and helped us practice preventive medicine before the fact and curative medicine after the fact.

What distinguishes this institution as a leader in academic medicine?

I consider UT Southwestern to truly be a national leader, which has been reinforced by my work with scientists, researchers, and clinical physicians from throughout the U.S. during my 20-year involvement, including serving as Chairman of the National Board with the American Heart Association. I also believe this national leadership has been achieved not through a single factor, but rather a combination of assets. They include outstanding quality of science and focus on people as faculty, staff, and patients-clients over the full spectrum of medical care, from basic and clinical-population research to therapeutic application of science, while not neglecting prevention to help people stay well.

UT Southwestern President Daniel K. Podolsky unveils a certificate recognizing Ron W. Haddock’s years of service to the Board of Visitors at a dinner on October 18, 2016. David Gresham/UT Southwestern Medical Center

What do you find most engaging about your volunteer leadership?

I have continued my decades of working with UT Southwestern with different motivations at different times, although the unquestionable appeal of receiving outstanding medical care for my family and me was always there.

Initially, about 1989, my wife and I chaired a number of fundraising events, starting with the Texas Tycoon Gala, which each raised about $1 million and were great fun.

“Very simply, it is making people’s lives better.”

Around 1990, as a member of the Zale Lipshy Board, the focus was on improving the hospital’s financial results while continuing to provide top quality care. After the Zale and St. Paul combination, I served as Chairman of the combined boards following the king of UT Southwestern volunteers, Paul Bass. And we were concentrating then on the integration of two excellent institutions.

Kern Wildenthal [UT Southwestern’s second President] invited me to be the first Chairman of the Board of Visitors, and our focus was on providing an effective structure, modeled at that time after MD Anderson in Houston, for volunteer engagement and participation through various committees.

More recently, as a member of the President’s Advisory Board, the hook has been continuing to associate with so many wonderful people, including both the Advisory Board and faculty members, and the opportunity to continue learning about and understanding the magnificent progress and value growth of an amazing institution.

What have you learned about UT Southwestern?

It has been gratifying to see UT Southwestern go from what we, many years ago, referred to as the “best kept secret in Dallas,” to the current level of broad recognition and appreciation in both local and regional markets. However, although progress has been made and national awards have been received, I am still surprised that national and international recognition has not yet reached what I believe is the deserved and justified level.

What has been your most memorable volunteer experience?

The absolute best experience has been to feel the pride that I feel, along with so many other volunteers, in playing even a small part in the growth and development of such a magnificent institution.

What surprises you about UT Southwestern’s growth?

Since I have believed in and been committed to UT Southwestern since 1989, I could say that while the growth has been truly outstanding, it really doesn’t surprise me. On the other hand, I should acknowledge that as great as I felt the institution has been, I never anticipated the pace and magnitude of the growth achieved by 2021. A good example we can all relate to is Clements University Hospital requiring expansion years ahead of the original schedule and continuing to operate at a very high occupancy level. Also, the continued expansion of the research and educational, in addition to the clinical, have been super, even with all the challenges of the pandemic. Again, it has been, and continues to be, an extremely well managed institution. Is it perfect? Heck no, but the beautiful thing is it keeps setting tough goals and working hard – while keeping patients as the absolute top priority – to achieve that impossible goal of perfection.

As a donor, why do you continue to give?

My wife, Sandi, and I continue to give for all the reasons mentioned above. But if I had to choose one word, it would be "quality" – quality of science, quality of faculty, quality of management, quality of values, and quality of results.

The Haddocks at their lake house.
The Haddocks, seated center, with their family at their lake house on Richland Chambers Lake in Texas Provided by Ron W. Haddock

What is UT Southwestern's biggest contribution to the community?

Very simply, it is making people’s lives better.

Years ago, Dr. Podolsky foresaw the need for a public health response to diseases like COVID-19. This resulted in the Texas legislature voting to fund a new School of Public Health at UT Southwestern in May. Also, the leadership of the Medical Center has recently decided to focus on the frontier area of the brain with the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute.

In order to better serve the community, UT Southwestern works with other partners like Texas Health Resources and The University of Texas at Dallas. UT Southwestern’s concern for underserved areas has recently led to an expansion to provide medical services to South Dallas.

  • Dr. Podolsky holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.