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Dr. Paul Rupprecht, former Boynton head, dies of natural causes

Dr. Paul Rupprecht, a former director of Boynton Health Service and a pioneer in college health programs, died last Wednesday of natural causes. He was 78.

Ed Ehlinger, current Boynton director, called Rupprecht a “giant” of the health service.

“He has had a big influence on Boynton. He’s also had a big influence on college health nationally by the programs that he developed here and the approaches he took for good financial management and high quality care,” Ehlinger said.

Rupprecht came to Boynton in 1953 as a statistician and gradually advanced through the administration to become its director from 1972-88.

Described by those who knew him as a man of high standards and high integrity, Rupprecht’s influence was felt far beyond the University.

Among Rupprecht’s accomplishments were guiding the American College Health Association through rough financial times as its treasurer in the late 1970s and early 1980s, possibly saving it from collapse, Ehlinger said. Rupprecht received the Ruth E. Boynton Award in 1980 for his efforts.

In 1975, during Rupprecht’s tenure, the Board of Regents mandated hospitalization insurance for all students paying the student services fee. In the 1980s, the system of prepaid public health care – pioneered at clinics like Boynton – became a model for the growing number of health maintenance organizations.

Gailon Roen, a friend and former colleague of Rupprecht, recalled the former director’s dedication to University students, saying, “I’m sure he would put his job on the line to do what was right for the students.”

To ensure students were provided the best care possible, Rupprecht helped develop the first quality-assurance program for a college health service at Boynton in 1979.

In his last year as director, he established the health service’s marketing department to inform students about Boynton’s services and encouraged students to take steps to better their health.

“He just really felt strongly that students needed to be treated with great respect, and he wanted to put them first and make sure that they received the high-quality health care that they needed,” Roen said.

Rupprecht trusted the high standards he helped establish enough to go to Boynton for treatment of his Parkinson’s disease, with which he was diagnosed shortly after retiring.

Carol Uchal, principle Boyton secretary, served as Rupprecht’s secretary at various times throughout his years at the University. She said Rupprecht was a good leader, and she remembered his dry wit and occasional perplexity with the whims of a younger generation, such as the popularity of bell bottoms in the 1970s.

“He just could not understand the younger generation and their fads because he was quite European and quite formal in his being,” Uchal said.

Rupprecht was born in Hungary in 1924. He began his studies in Hungary and in 1944 went to Germany to continue his education.

He finished his education at the University of North Dakota on a scholarship after immigrating to the United States in 1949.

He and his first wife Margaret had three sons, all of whom attended the University. Margaret died in 1983 and Rupprecht married his second wife Maria in 1995.

Andrew Rupprecht, one of his sons, echoed the sentiments of those who worked with his father, describing his extraordinary character and dedication to his work.

He remembered that his father turned down a regular annual bonus one year while working at Boynton when he felt he hadn’t done a good enough job.

“I think that Ö said something about his pursuit of excellence and his own high standards and his integrity as well; where he put the interests of the school ahead of his own,” Rupprecht said.

Dylan Thomas welcomes comments at [email protected]
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