Story of Ruth Hillebrand

Ruth M. Hillebrand

The center is named after the late Ruth M. Hillebrand, a clinical psychologist in Manhattan who specialized in treating patients with eating disorders. Ruth had first-hand knowledge of how compassion on the part of the physician could impact a patient. She had a personal experience with a physician, whom she met once, who delivered a terminal cancer diagnosis in a brief, late night phone call and then abruptly hung up.

One can certainly understand how distressing and disturbing it was to receive such terrible news in this way, yet she used her experience to seek ways to improve how physicians are trained. Before she passed away in 1994 from mesothelioma, Ruth asked her brother, Joseph, a 1943 Notre Dame alumnus, to gift her estate to places that would help train physicians in compassionate care and communication.  Joseph helped to establish training centers at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Toledo Medical School in her name.