Donald L. Ashkenase, faculty
"It is unconscionable that in America there are still people who don't have access to good healthcare or any healthcare at all. It's this view that motivated me to go into the healthcare field." That is Professor Don Ashkenase's teaching philosophy. The Executive MPH Program prides itself on having professors not only with relevant professional experience but also with a passion for the field of healthcare. Donald Ashkenase is no exception.
Professor Ashkenase is the Executive Vice President of Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. Over the 20 years that he has been at Montefiore, he has seen the organization grow from $500 million in revenue to $2.2 billion. Montefiore provides close to 70,000 discharges and two million ambulatory care visits every year; it also has the fifth largest emergency room in the United States. Professor Ashkenase credits Montefiore's social-minded mission with enabling him to help improve medical care, the goal throughout most of his career.
A graduate Brooklyn College with a BA in Accounting and Wagner College with an MA in Hospital Administration, Professor Ashkenase landed his first hospital administration job when he served four years in the United States Air Force. During his tenure in the armed forces, he rose to the rank of captain and became a hospital administrator in a 75-bed hospital. In 1969, Don left the Air Force to work for New York City Health and Hospital Corporation (HHC) as an Assistant Administrator at Metropolitan Hospital. In 1971, Don went to Cumberland Hospital, where he was the Associate Administrator of Ambulatory Care, and in 1973, Don went to work at HHC's central office, where he eventually became the Chief Financial Officer for what at the time was a $1.1 billion corporation controlling 18 city hospitals.
Mr. Ashkenase left New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation in 1977 to become Chief Financial Officer at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. He served in this position until 1987, when he left to become the Chief Financial Officer at Montefiore Medical Center.
In addition to his current work at Montefiore, Professor Ashkenase is involved in many other institutions that provide medical services. He is Chairman of the Board at three different companies: HealthFirst, a $1.6 billion Medicaid / Medicare Managed Care Company owned by 20 New York City hospitals; Hospitals Insurance Company, the most financially viable malpractice carrier in New York State; and Emerging Health Information Technology.
Professor Ashkenase began his teaching career at Columbia University in 1978. He was recruited by one of the city's leaders in healthcare, Dr. Lowell Bellin, the former NYC Health Commissioner and Chairman of the Board at the NYC Health and Hospital Corporation. What Professor Ashkenase loves most about teaching at Columbia is being inspired by his students, particularly those in the Executive MPH Program. "There is nothing more rewarding than teaching these future leaders of public health. It is exciting to know that I am contributing to their advancement and making a meaningful contribution to their success in healthcare management."
Next June, Professor Ashkenase and his wife, Karen, will be celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary. They are very proud of their three children and grandchildren, who keep them very busy with babysitting and sleepovers. Amazingly, Professor Ashkenase has found the time and energy to run four New York City Marathons, the Long Island Marathon, and over 25 triathlons. His favorite pastime is golf. Professor Ashkenase has been a golfer since he caddied for his father when he was 10-years old. Nowadays, his sons, son-in-law, nephews, and grandsons all enjoy the sport with him.