Former Cleveland Clinic CEO to speak at convocation

The Cleveland Clinic is one of the most influential institutions in the city of Cleveland, ranking number one on Crain’s Business Journal list of largest Cleveland employers. Dr. Delos “Toby” Cosgrove, the former CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, will serve as the convocation speaker at Case Western Reserve University’s 2018 graduation.

Cosgrove served as the Clinic’s CEO from 2004 to 2017. His tenure saw significant changes within the hospital system, including the opening of several new branches; one branch of the Clinic is in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.  

Cosgrove’s career began as a surgeon in the United States Air Force where he served as the Chief of Casualty Staging Flight. According to Yale University, Cosgrove oversaw a 100-bed evacuation hospital outside the Da Nang Air Force base near the North Vietnamese border. He was awarded the Bronze Star and the Republic of Vietnam Commendation Medal for his service.

The experience exposed him to experiences which would eventually apply to his work with the Cleveland Clinic. Following his Air Force service, Cosgrove joined the Cleveland Clinic in 1975 as a cardiac surgeon. He became Chairman of the Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery in 1989.  

According to, the Cleveland Clinic’s revenues more than doubled under Cosgrove, rising from 3.7 billion to 8.5 billion dollars during his 13 year tenure. The number of employees at the hospital increased massively as well, growing by 79 percent.

CWRU has collaborated with the Clinic several times during Cosgrove’s tenure. Two noteworthy projects include a 485,000-square foot health education campus and a 126,000-square foot dental campus.

Fourth-year student Chris Gittings said he looks forward to hearing Cosgrove speak. Gittings worked at the Clinic under Dr. Michael Manos, who personally knew the former CEO.

“Dr. Manos frequently mentioned how Cosgrove was always ruthless and results-driven,” said Gittings. “He espoused Cosgrove’s leadership as a model for success in the medical realm.”

Fourth-year history and political science student Tasha Jhangiani was disappointed in the university’s choice for commencement speaker.

“As a humanities student, I can’t relate to Cosgrove compared to other people, and it’s frustrating,” she said, “because it very often feels like non pre-med and engineering students are not a priority to this university. This feels like yet another kick in the gut.”

Cosgrove’s time at the Cleveland Clinic was not without criticism. Some people, for instance, took issue with the separation of the Clinic from the rest of the Cleveland community.

“I’m not fond of the guy,” said fourth-year Colby Saxton, “especially after reading the Politico article from this past July detailing how the Clinic fails to provide any services to its surrounding communities, like Hough and Fairfax.”

The neighborhoods surrounding the Cleveland Clinic, Hough and Fairfax, are some of the poorest in the city. The two neighborhoods scored a five in the Clinic’s Community Health Needs Assessment, the highest score possible, which represents a high need for health care.   

The Clinic does have several notable outreach efforts though, like the Langston Hughes Community Health and Education Center in Fairfax. The Clinic, however is a non-profit organization, which means it is exempt from property taxes.

Convocation for 2018 graduates will take place on May 20.