John W. Rowe '70M (MD), '02M (Hnr)
Dr. John (Jack) Rowe is the Julius B. Richmond Professor of Health Policy and Aging at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. He is the former executive chairman and past chairman and CEO at Aetna, one of the nation’s leading health care and health-related benefits organizations. Revered as a leading expert on geriatrics and the physiology of aging, Dr. Rowe is the author of more than 200 scientific publications and co-author of the book Successful Aging.
A 1966 graduate of Canisius College, Dr. Rowe received his medical degree in 1970 from the University of Rochester, where he was a member of Alpha Omega Alpha. He went on to join the medical staff at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston and subsequently rose to gerontology chief. Concurrently with his administrative hospital post, he served as a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and was the founding director of the School’s Division on Aging. In 1988, Dr. Rowe relocated to New York City to take the helm as president of Mount Sinai Hospital and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Ten years later, he was appointed president and CEO of the newly merged Mount Sinai-New York University Health system.
Dr. Rowe joined Aetna in 2000, serving as president for two years and as chairman and CEO for six. During his tenure, he engineered a turnaround strategy that included downsizing the mammoth organization, jettisoning unprofitable customers, and focusing on earnings-boosting business. In conjunction with these sweeping changes, Aetna began administering self-insured health care plans for companies and employers, including the University of Rochester.
Devoted philanthropists, Dr. Rowe and his wife, Valerie, founded the Rowe Family Foundation, which supports the fields of biology and life sciences, education, health care, and higher education. Dr. Rowe made a landmark gift to the James P. Wilmot Cancer Institute Comprehensive Campaign in 2006. He is an active member of the New York City Regional Cabinet and has hosted several alumni events. The Rowes, who live in New York City, have three children and three grandchildren. Their eldest daughter, Meredith (Merri) Rowe ’93, ’95W (MS) is married to Rochester alumnus Christian Hart-Nibbrig III ’95.
Established in 2008, the Dean’s Medal recognizes extraordinary service, philanthropy, and leadership to the School, and dedication and commitment that inspire others to take leadership roles at the University. Individuals, families, associations, corporations, or foundations may be recognized. It is among the highest honors given by the School.