This retiring UCD Health director secured millions to aid burned veterans, mentally ill

Robert J. Waste, the director of UC Davis Health Government and Community Relations, is retiring after eight years in which he led successful efforts to secure millions of dollars for care and research of mental illness and war veterans burned in the line of duty.

In a note to staff, interim Vice Chancellor Tom Nesbitt and Associate Chancellor Karl Engelbach wrote: Bob has served UC Davis Health ... with passion, intelligence, and integrity. ... In light of Bob’s upcoming retirement and Marjorie Dickinson’s recent January 1 retirement, campus leadership has decided to integrate and combine the existing government relations units on the Davis and Sacramento campuses.”

The university will conduct a national search to fill the position of chief government and community relations officer. Until the position is filled, Mabel Salon with UC Davis Government and Community Relations and Laura Niznik Williams at UC Davis Health will provide interim leadership.

Waste said he’s looking forward to consulting on health policy and land use issues in retirement, and he plans to relaunch his own consulting firm: Robert Waste & Associates.

At UCD Health, Waste said he used his knowledge of state and federal government to build support for the Center for Behavioral Health Excellence, securing a $7.5 million state appropriation for it, and $5 million for the Burns Outcomes Research Institute, which finds the best practices for treating veterans with traumatic burn injuries.

In many cases, Waste said, the work that he did took years to accomplish.

“It took forever, but we found state funding that the county was able to use to invest, several million dollars to augment and rebuild services.”

Cathie Anderson: 916-321-1193, @CathieA_SacBee