OU Health Community Mourns Passing of Civic Leader and Philanthropist, Mike Samis
Published: Monday, October 26, 2020
Governor Kevin Stitt said, “The State of Oklahoma has lost a great advocate and public servant in Mike Samis. The successes he knew in business are a testament to his keen knowledge of the corporate world, his ability to collaborate and to rally diverse interests for a shared purpose. Mike Samis lived his life to make Oklahoma a better place to live, work, dream and achieve. His absence will be felt deeply across our state.”
Samis, a native Oklahoman, was chairman of the board of OU Medicine, Inc., a 501(c)3 Oklahoma non-profit corporation formed in 2017. He was instrumental in negotiation efforts that ultimately resulted in the acquisition of interests held by Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) in the former OU Medical System.
“Mike was a remarkable figure and leader in our state. His life, lost too soon, leaves a legacy that will benefit generations of Oklahomans,” said University of Oklahoma President Joseph Harroz Jr. “Thanks in large part to his leadership and wisdom, the future of healthcare in our state is a bright one. His twenty-seven years of volunteer leadership profoundly impacted the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and the many lives it improves. I’m thankful for his life of service, his friendship, and to have had the opportunity to work alongside him.”
Built in 2012, Samis Family Education Center, adjacent to Oklahoma Children’s Hospital – OU Health, was named to acknowledge the numerous and significant contributions of its namesake throughout a career dedicated to advancing initiatives that improve quality in healthcare and in medical education.
“The Samis Center holds a place of prominence at the heart of the OU Health Center, not only as a structural presence, but for the vital educational functions it serves. That it bears the Samis name is fitting, then and now,” said G. Rainey Williams Jr., chair, University Hospitals Authority and Trust. He spoke of his personal esteem for Samis, his predecessor and former trust board member. “Mike was driven to see Oklahomans live better lives through improved access to excellent healthcare. His dedication to that goal was evident in his focused interest in healthcare administration, public health policy and healthcare delivery. It is impossible to overstate all the ways in which his influence continues to elevate improved quality of life for Oklahomans throughout the state.”
Samis earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Oklahoma, Norman, and completed a master’s degree in business administration from Southern Methodist University, Dallas. As the initial chair of the University Hospitals Authority and Trust, appointed by Governor David Walters in 1993, Samis led the negotiating team that structured the 1993 agreement with HCA to jointly operate the state’s academic medical center in Oklahoma City and the HCA facility then known as Presbyterian Hospital. Under that historic OU Medical Systems (OUMS) agreement, medical education remained intact on the Oklahoma City campus, and capacity to provide care to the underserved was preserved and expanded. Further, the agreement helped ensure that ongoing research programs conducted through the OU College of Medicine were sustained. In 2000, Samis was elected chair of OUMS, serving continuously until OU Medicine, Inc. became operational on February 1, 2018.
Samis was vice president of Hiawatha Oil Company, a large independent oil and gas exploration and production company in Oklahoma City. He later became president, CEO and chairman of the board of Macklanburg-Duncan Company (M-D), and CEO and chairman of the board of its successor company, M-D Building Products, Inc. Under his leadership, M-D became one of the 25 largest suppliers to the hardware and home center industry with sales exceeding $250,000,000.
Among many business and civic leadership roles, Samis served as a director of BancFirst, a publicly traded commercial bank, was a member of the board of the Dean McGee Eye Institute, and chaired the University of Oklahoma Foundation.
Samis received the 2002 Alumni Achievement Award from Casady School and was honored in 2010 as the recipient of the school’s Distinguished Graduate Award. The University of Oklahoma presented Samis with its Regents’ Alumni Award in 2007 and an honorary doctorate in 2010.
“Mike was a more than a highly regarded and valued colleague. He was also a trusted friend and mentor whose insights and leadership had profound impact,” said Chuck Spicer, FACHE, President and CEO of OU Medicine, Inc. “The void created by his death is immeasurable. He was a man who challenged us to be better and helped us find the best within ourselves.”
Jason Sanders, M.D., MBA, Senior Vice President and Provost of OU Health Sciences Center and Vice Chair of OU Medicine, Inc. Board of Directors, said, “Mike Samis had tremendous resolve to lead OU Medicine through milestone after milestone. Due to Mike’s years of tireless effort, in 2018 OU Medicine became a locally owned and operated health system. Mike’s vision centered on the patient, and he fought to expand OU Health’s essential clinical programs for all Oklahomans. He likewise championed medical education for tomorrow’s caregivers. Among his many legacies is a lifetime of reaching new heights for healthcare in Oklahoma, and challenging each of us to do the same.”