10 Questions for Richard Liekweg, Chief executive officer of UCSD Medical Center


Richard Liekweg was named one of Modern Healthcare’s “Up and Comers” in 2001 when he was CEO of Duke University’s Durham Regional Hospital. He caught the eye of UCSD officials who recruited him to take the helm of San Diego’s only academic medical center, a position he has held since 2003.

An East Coast native who attended the University of Virginia and earned masters degrees in both Health Administration and Business Administration from the University of Michigan, Liekweg, his wife, Stacey, and daughter Caroline now make their home in La Jolla, while Liekweg divides his work week between UCSD Medical Center’s La Jolla and Hillcrest campuses.

Liekweg oversees UCSD’s 540-bed two-hospital system. He serves on the governing board of the University HealthSystem Consortium, and is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives, the California and San Diego Hospital Associations, the Board of Directors of the San Diego Chapter of the American Heart Association and the Scientific Advisory Board of IntelliDOT Corporation.

Q: What brought you to La Jolla?

I was recruited from Duke University a little over five years ago to be the CEO of one of the leading academic medical centers in the U.S.: UCSD Medical Center. We moved to La Jolla for the community, the schools, its convenience...and of course it’s a beautiful place to live.

Q: What makes La Jolla special to you?

Best weather anywhere in the world; extraordinary sunsets; an ocean view as I travel to and from work each and every day; and the intellectual excitement and cultural diversity of the community, including the UCSD campus.

Q: Who or what inspires you?

The physicians, staff, volunteers and patients I get to interact with every day at the Medical Center.

Q: If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in La Jolla?

How about eliminating May gray and June gloom!

Q: If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

Assuming that my wife Stacey is helping me host this dinner and is not one of the eight guests, I would invite: Thomas Jefferson - I am an alum of Mr. Jefferson’s university; Martin Luther King, Jr. - I would love him to see where we are today and hear his thoughts; my grandfather, who was a general practitioner and city coroner for Washington, D.C., in the early 1900s - although he died before I was born, he inspired my career in healthcare; Michael Phelps - my 8-year-old daughter who lives in the pool would be impressed; my parents, who have both passed away - I would love to share with them all they have missed; and finally, Bill and Melinda Gates - we have a new hospital to build!

Q: What is your motto or philosophy of life?

You are guaranteed to miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

Q: What are you currently reading?

“World Without End” by Ken Follett, a sequel to his epic novel, “The Pillars of the Earth.”

Q: What is your most prized possession?

A letter my mom wrote to her six children and 17 grandchildren weeks before she died on how to live life.

Q: What do you do for fun?

Travel with family and friends; bike ride with friends along the Pacific Coast Highway; watch my daughter compete in swim meets; kayak from the Shores to the Cove with my daughter while my wife swims the distance; run along the beach and the bay with my wife; and enjoy all the cultural activities La Jolla and San Diego have to offer.

Q: Please describe your greatest accomplishment.

Being part of the team at UCSD Medical Center, which was just one of 32 hospitals nationally ranked in eight or more specialties by U.S. News and World Report.