Cornelius L. Hopper, M.D.

Vice Chair - Abbreviated Bio



Dr. Cornelius L. Hopper is the Emeritus Vice President for Health Affairs for the University of California System. He received his AB and MD degrees, respectively,  from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio and the University of Cincinnati College of  Medicine.  Following service as a Battalion Surgeon with the 4th Marines from 1961-63, he had training in Internal Medicine at Marquette University and, subsequently, in Neurology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he remained on the Neurology faculty until 1971, serving as the founding director of a network of  University of Wisconsin Multiple Sclerosis Clinics and as a member of a U.W. multi disciplinary slow virus research team.

In 1971, responding to the nation’s civil rights revolution and the linked national concern regarding access to care for under served rural populations, Dr. Hopper accepted the directorship of the John A. Andrew Memorial Hospital at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and an appointment as the Institute’s Vice President for Health Affairs. Over the next eight years he introduced the National Health Services Corps into the southeastern U.S; organized one of the nation’s first rural-based Area Health Education Centers (AHECs); and, with funding support from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Princeton, N.J., he pioneered a unique multi-county primary care system in south central Alabama (The Tuskegee Primary Care Network) which utilized telemedicine concepts that, in a less technologically complex version, were later adopted in some West Africa nations under the auspices of USAID.

In 1979, Dr. Hopper was recruited to the University of California System as Special Assistant for Health Affairs to the University’s President, and, in 1983, was promoted to Vice President. For twenty years, until his retirement in January 2000, he served as the senior administrative officer for the nation’s largest university health sciences system, encompassing fourteen health professions schools on six campuses, an enrollment of thirteen thousand students, and a budget of over $3 billion. Among the milestones during his tenure, he spearheaded the reorganization of the Board of Regents’ governance of the university’s academic medical centers; planned the mid 1980s downsizing of selective health professions enrollments; coordinated a major revision of the university’s Uniform Clinical Compensation Plan for medical and other health sciences clinical faculty; and led the development of Changing Directions in Medical Education, a plan modifying the mission and curriculum of the university’s five medical schools to accommodate expanded undergraduate and postgraduate training in primary care.

 Beginning in the 1980s, he organized and administered California State-funded Research Grant Programs in AIDS, Geriatrics, Tobacco-related Diseases, and Breast Cancer.  These Programs, modeled on competitive NIH principles, resulted in awards of over $400 million to California researchers.  UC President Richard Atkinson, in a statement to the UC Regents announcing Dr. Hopper’s retirement said, “Four University of California presidents have benefited from his excellent counsel and his comprehensive knowledge of all aspects of UC’s health sciences enterprise. The University owes him a lasting debt for the intelligence, integrity, and care with which he has shaped health sciences policies and programs during his two decades in the Office of the President”.

A State of California Health Manpower Policy Commissioner from 1981 until 2002, Dr. Hopper has served on numerous national, regional, and state advisory committees and councils. Currently, he Chairs the Board of Regents of the Samuel Merritt (Health Sciences) University in Oakland and also serves on the Boards of Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN, and the East Bay Regional Board of The Sutter Health System.  He is a member of the National Advisory Committee for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation – Sponsored Executive Nurse Fellowship Program. From March 2004 until November 2005, under the sponsorship of The California Endowment, he Chaired a special Steering Committee on the Future of The King./Drew Medical Center (Los Angeles).

Dr. Hopper has been a consultant to NIH, DHEW, the American Public Health Association, and The American International Health Alliance, among others. The latter assignment involved work in Central Asia and countries of the former Soviet Union. He has been the recipient of the Ohio University Medal of Merit, the Drake Medal from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine (the highest award conferred by the College), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Medallion, Distinguished Service Awards from the Regional Medical Program Services and the Veterans Administration, and Resolutions of Appreciation from the California State Senate and the University of California Board of Regents. Annual “Hopper” Lectureships and Research Awards in Breast Cancer, AIDS, and Tobacco were created by the University in his honor on the occasion of his retirement.

Dr. Hopper has been married for 46 years to the former Barbara Johnson of Milwaukee, Wisconsin -  a Prudential Real Estate Agent in Berkeley, California. Their three children include a Los Angeles Community College Counselor, A Senior Deputy City Attorney for San Jose, California, and an Executive Producer of syndicated Television Programs