Harrold McDermott, MBA, executive administrator of the Department of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, died suddenly Friday, March 29, 2013. He was 50 years old.
“Everyone in the Department of Medicine is simply heartbroken at the loss of such an extraordinary man in the prime of life,” said Seth Landefeld, M.D., chair of Medicine. “Harrold was an outstanding leader; he had the respect and admiration of everyone who worked with him.”
“This is a tremendous loss for UAB and for academic medicine in the United States,” said Anupam Agarwal, M.D., interim dean of the School of Medicine and senior vice president for Medicine at UAB. Agarwal, a faculty member in the Department of Medicine, preceded Landefeld as interim chair from August 2011 to August 2012 and worked closely with Harrold.
“Harrold will be remembered for his commitment to excellence and his desire to make our department the very best in the country,” Agarwal said.
As executive administrator, McDermott handled the financial operations of the School of Medicine’s largest department, with more than 400 faculty members and $106 million in research funding; it ranks 7th among public medical schools and 18th among all medical schools in the country in NIH funding.
McDermott had a long and illustrious career as a financial and operations specialist in academic medicine. He came to UAB in February 2011 from Indiana University School of Medicine, where he worked from 2008 to 2011 and was executive associate dean for Administration, Operations and Finance. He was senior executive associate dean for Administration, Planning and Finance at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston from 2005 to 2007, and twice served the Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center, from 1990 to 2005, serving as business administrator for the department of Pediatrics from 1996 to 2005, and again from 2007 to 2008, when he was executive director of Finance.
“Harrold’s deep and diverse experience in finance and operations made him invaluable to the department,” Landefeld said. “But what made Harrold special was his humanity and humility. He cared for his colleagues. One of his first tasks was to create an employee-of-the-month award to showcase someone’s hard work. He took an active role in management and showed great pride in presenting the awards.”
McDermott was active in numerous professional organizations, including the American College of Medical Practice Executives, and held leadership positions and served on committees of the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Medical Group Management Association.
McDermott also served in the U.S. Army from 1984 to 1986. In 1986 he was selected from more than 20,000 soldiers to be Soldier of the Year of the I Corps, 9th Division at Ft. Lewis, Washington.
McDermott also earned highest honors as a professional dog breeder and shower. He was the president of the Bulldog Club of America and had recently earned his American Kennel Club judge’s license. He and his wife Teresa won numerous honors with their English bulldogs in American Kennel Club events throughout the country.
McDermott was born and raised in Abilene, Texas. He graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, and received his MBA, with honors, from Oklahoma City University.
He and Teresa were married 25 years. He is survived by her and four children: Amber McDermott, Leslie Clugston, Harrold McDermott Jr., and Crystal McDermott; son-in-law Michael Clugston; three grandchildren, one expected grandchild, two brothers and a sister.