Dean McGee Eye Institute
11 Questions with Dr. Greg Skuta, President and Chief Executive Officer, Dean McGee Eye Institute
Hometown? Where did you grow up?
I was born in Benton, Illinois, but grew up in Tuscola, Illinois, a town of about 4,000 people in Central Illinois. My parents still live in the same house in Tuscola.
I earned my undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and my medical degree from the University of Illinois College of Medicine. My ophthalmology residency was at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and my fellowship training in glaucoma at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, Florida.
My wife Anne and I have been married for almost 28 years. She is a nurse and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Anne is currently Director of Cardiovascular Education at Integris Heart Hospital in Oklahoma City.
We are very proud of our three children, all of whom graduated from Edmond North High School, where Jon and Cate were active in tennis and Matt in soccer.
Our oldest, Jon, graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2010 and will finish a master’s program in public administration and city management at the University of North Texas in May. He then will assume a position as Director of Finance for the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Department.
Our daughter, Cate, also graduated from the University of Oklahoma (2011) and is currently a physical therapy student at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Matt, who is our youngest, is a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma in film and media studies.
What do you do in your down time?
I don’t really have a lot of down time right now, but I enjoy domestic and international travel and have visited at least 45 states and several countries on six continents (Antarctica is still on the list!) Matt and I visited Chile last May and will be traveling to China this May.
I also enjoy movies, music, and theater. Anne and I subscribe to the Broadway Series at the Civic Center in Oklahoma City and really loved “Memphis” during the current season. My most recent Broadway event in New York was “Death of a Salesman” starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
Anne and I are active members of the United Methodist Church of the Servant in Oklahoma City (third pew, southeast alcove).
What is something about you most people don't know?
I enjoy music and singing in particular and was a member of the University of Illinois Varsity Men’s Glee Club in college. I also have had a life-long interest in American Presidential history, have visited all of the Presidential libraries and museums from Herbert Hoover through the first President Bush, and am planning to visit the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in Little Rock this November.
Two of my favorite movies include “Silence of the Lambs” and “Field of Dreams.”
What brought you to your current field?
I was interested in medicine as a career since I was very young and always assumed that I would be a family physician in a small town in Illinois. However, after my first year in medical school, I spent some time with an ophthalmologist in Champaign, Illinois, and was immediately attracted by ophthalmology, the beauty and intricacy of the human eye, and the fascinating medical and surgical aspects of the specialty.
What is a typical work day like for you?
Life is busy. I usually arrive at the Eye Institute between 6:45 and 7:00 am and wind down by 7 pm or so. I still see patients three half-days per week and operate every other week. When I am not taking care of patients, my day is filled with meetings, recruitment and fundraising activities, and involvement with organizations such as the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Anne and I also attend a number of social events related to my responsibilities with the Eye Institute and University.
What is one thing about your organization people might not realize or know?
Everyone seems familiar with the outstanding medical and surgical eye care available at the Dean McGee Eye Institute along with our superb training programs. However, folks are sometimes surprised to learn how much research is underway at the Dean McGee Eye Institute and in the OU Department of Ophthalmology. We have some of the country’s most successful scientists and one of the nation’s most highly regarded and best funded vision research programs right here in Oklahoma City.
What is the next exciting thing coming up for your organization?
The past year has been very eventful with the opening and dedication of the new building, completion of our $46 million capital campaign, and the arrival of several new doctors from throughout the country. Our many goals include filling our new research space with world-class scientists, recruiting additional doctors to better serve our fellow Oklahomans, and preparing for future growth by seeking support for “our people and our programs.”
What are the current challenges your organization is facing and what steps are you taking to address these challenges?
All of us involved in health care, including the field of ophthalmology, face the challenge of meeting the needs of an aging population in a climate of increasing regulations and an element of uncertainty regarding the future of health care, programs such as Medicare, and funding for research. We are preparing for the future by adopting new technologies, including an electronic health record, and by assembling a system of care that we believe will allow us to effectively meet the needs of our patients.
Where do you see your organization five years from now?
In keeping with our mission statement, I anticipate that the Dean McGee Eye Institute (DMEI) will experience additional growth in all of our programs as our faculty continues to be “…dedicated to serving all Oklahomans and the global community through excellence and leadership in patient care, education, and vision research.” Our goal is to further establish DMEI as one of the nation’s premier eye institutes in a manner that brings honor and respect to the Institute, our great state, and our highly committed faculty. I believe that this can be accomplished by maintaining a patient-centered culture, promoting a high level of clinical and surgical standards and innovation, advancing outstanding academic and organizational achievement, and demonstrating national leadership in education, basic and clinical research, and service to society.