Batten Institute

Mary Varney Rorty



Bio: Mary Rorty is Clinical Associate Professor at the Stanford University Medical Center and a Fellow of the Center for Biomedical Ethics. Before going to Stanford, she was Director of Advanced Studies at the University of Virginia’s Center for Biomedical Ethics for five years. She previously served at the University of Virginia in various capacities in the philosophy department, Women’s Studies Program, and School of Nursing. She has held teaching appointments at the State University of New York at Buffalo, Ryder College, San Francisco State University, and Douglass College.

Professor Rorty is well published in the areas of theoretical and practical issues in clinical ethics and bioethics. Books she has co-authored or co-edited include Ethics and Pediatrics: Case Studies and Organization Ethics in Health Care. In addition to her writing and research, she belongs to several professional organizations, including the American Philosophical Association, the Society of Women in Philosophy, the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, and Feminist Approaches to Bioethics. She serves on the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Ethics Committee and is the Convener of the Organization Ethics Affinity Group of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities.

She received her doctorate in philosophy from the Johns Hopkins University and her master’s degree in clinical ethics from the University of Virginia.

Expertise: Strategic Change in Health Care Organizations 


Fellowship Focus: The goal of this Batten Fellowship is to answer the following questions: Are the values of efficiency initiatives compatible with a health care organization driven by traditional patient care values? If so, how? If not, how can traditional patient care values be maintained while quality initiatives are being implemented? To deal with these questions, Mary Rorty and her Faculty Hosts, Darden Professor Patricia Werhane and Professor Ann Mills of the University of Virginia’s Center for Biomedical Ethics, will introduce a new model for strategic change in health care organizations that explicitly addresses the alignment of the values of change strategies with traditional patient care values.

The Fellowship will focus on research in the areas of bioethics and strategic change in the health care industry. When market-model business strategies began to have an impact on health care delivery in the last decade of the twentieth century, some theorists and policy makers began to look to quality improvement techniques as possible strategies for the health care industry. Because of their focus on quality outcomes as well as cost, it was hoped that their introduction could minimize the impact of cost containment on quality of care. The Fellowship focuses on the promise and the problems of such initiatives. They will develop three papers for academic journals: “Quality Initiatives in Health Care Organizations,” “Organization Ethics and the Managerial Revolution in American Health Care,” and “Reconceptualizing the Organization Ethics Program as a Vehicle for Change in Health Care Organizations.” They will also develop a case on system-wide change initiatives in collaboration with a large health care system.

Contact Info


Appointment: 2002

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