Allied health advocate
Remembering Richard Gutekunst
Richard Gutekunst, Ph.D., who served as dean of the college for 15 years, passed away July 7. He was 92 years old.
A native of Allentown, Pennsylvania, Dr. Gutekunst was appointed dean of the UF College of Health Related Professions, as the college was then known, in 1980. He previously served as dean of the College of Allied Health Professions at Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia. A virology and bacteriology researcher, he was instrumental in developing the first successful oral adenovirus vaccine while working at the Naval Medical Field Research Laboratory at Camp Lejeune. He received the Navy Commendation for Medical Research in recognition of this accomplishment in 1968.
At UF, Dr. Gutekunst’s leadership and advocacy extended beyond the college to positions at the state and national levels. He served as president of the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions and was elected a fellow of the association, its highest honor. He also helped found and served as president of Florida Alliance of 100+ for Health-Care Manpower. This group brought together representatives from public and private health care facilities, educational institutions and government agencies to address a severe shortage of health care workers in Florida.
“Dr. Gutekunst was a man of principles who had a strong leadership style. We needed those qualities during the ’80s and ’90s to move the college forward and to grow,” said Linda Stallings, retired associate director for medical/health administration who worked at the college for three decades. “He was a caring and supportive person whether it was making us, the staff, feel a part of the operation, or supporting faculty who wanted to go on for their doctorates to make them better educators.”
After he retired in 1995, Dr. Gutekunst continued to support the college and the university. He served on the college’s advisory board, a group he founded in 1985, and he and his wife, Anna, made generous donations to the university.
“In a video shown at PHHP’s 60th anniversary gala, Dean Gutekunst described his time as dean as being a caretaker of the college,” said Robert G. Frank, Ph.D., dean of the college from 1995 to 2007. “My own sense is quite different. He led the college during a period of extraordinary fiscal challenges at UF. With his leadership, the core programs of the college were preserved and enhanced. When I became dean, he was an exceptional mentor. Many of the ideas we implemented during my deanship arose from discussions with Dick. His quiet manner (except at basketball games) often belied his vision and strong compass for opportunity.”
“Looking back at the time when he was dean of our college, I always remember when he presented lectures each year in one of my courses focusing on virology and bacteriology for the physical therapy students. He enjoyed the students’ reactions to his examples and they were always enthusiastically awaiting the rest of his lectures. Dr. Gutekunst gave strong leadership to the departments in our college. He definitely made a significant contribution to the growth in academia and research.”
– Claudette Finley, associate professor emerita of physical therapy
“I had the honor and privilege to work for Dr. G for eight years and must say that the things I learned under his leadership were life-changing. He and Anna were, without a doubt, the most caring and giving people I had ever met — we were all treated like family. My husband and I have so many fond memories of our times together with Dr. G and Anna. Their generosity and loving friendship over the past 30-plus years will never be forgotten.”
– Cheryl May, former executive secretary to Dr. Gutekunst
“It was hard to imagine Richard Gutekunst being in a role other than a dean. He was, first and foremost, an individual of exceptional integrity. It helped him enormously in his role where he dealt routinely with sensitive information. He was always willing to help and he did so with great capacity. He provided growth opportunities for the college’s departments and he was an excellent manager of scarce resources. He was fair in his administrative policies and he had the respect of people above and below him in the administrative hierarchy. It was a privilege to work for him and to know him and I am confident that I speak for my peers.”
– Dr. Barry Greene, former chair of health services administration and former associate dean of academic programs