Directory Calendar News Careers Alumni Giving


Pitt mourns passing of Nathan Hershey, retired HPM faculty member and health law pioneer


Pitt Public Health Colleagues,


It is with deep sadness that I announce that Nathan (Nat) Hershey died on Saturday evening due to complications from a fall early Thursday morning.  He was comfortable in his last hours and his daughter Suzanne was by his side.


Nat joined Pitt in 1965 as a research associate and remained a pillar of the faculty until just a few years ago. Never one to hold back an opinion, Nat was an irresistible champion for justice and equity. He played an integral role in creating the field of health law, which regulates what is now the nation’s largest industry. Nat was a valued and dedicated professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management and published numerous books, chapters, and articles. Nat co-authored the Hospital Law Manual, Human Experimentation and The Law (1976), and Hospital-Physician Relationships: Case Studies and Commentaries on Medical Staff Problems (1982). He was a graduate of New York University (1950) and Harvard Law School (1953).


I first encountered Nat when he, knowing I was a basketball fan and was considering the Deanship, sent me a delightful hand written note inviting me to play one-on-one basketball against him. Even at 76 years old, Nat knew how to get your attention. Later, with his office just down the hall from mine, Nat would frequently stop in to give me advice about running the school, usually unbidden, but always on the mark. HPM alums I encounter – almost to a person – fondly tell me about their memories of Nat as a beloved teacher, mentor, and role model.


Nat had directed that his body be donated for scientific purposes and arrangements are being made to accommodate his request. No memorial services will be held, per his wishes. Nat would have been 87 years old on April 28th.  Suzanne said the most fitting “memorial” for her dad would be to take some time on his birthday to go for a run or a walk in Schenley Park (or your park of choice), to enjoy a bagel with friends, to shoot some hoops or play a game of tennis, or to toast him with some cheap Scotch (that he preferred) or a much more palatable beverage of your choice.  And of course, to participate in liberal causes and political actions, to circumvent bureaucratic stodginess, and to tell your favorite stories.


With sorrow,




Donald S. Burke, MD

Distinguished University Professor of Health Science and Policy

UPMC  Jonas Salk Chair in Global Health

Dean, Graduate School of Public Health

University of Pittsburgh 

(412) 624-3001



Related articles:

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - I cannot manage to die
Pitt health law pioneer Nathan Hershey explains why he wishes to die and how the law will not allow it
August 17, 2014 12:00 AM

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - Thank you, Nathan Hershey, for all that you taught us
August 28, 2014 12:00 AM


Search for an Article

© 2018 by University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

Login  |  Sitemap