Remembering the public health legend and a relationship that began with a simple question: “What can we do to help?”

When Partners in Health co-founder Dr. Paul Farmer passed away on February 21 in Burera, Rwanda, the world took notice. His loss hit home in a particularly personal way for Regis College President Toni Hays.

“He was a friend, he was a mentor, he was a role model, he was an inspiration and…he was a saint,” President Hays recalled tearfully in a conversation with Assistant Professor Lawana Brown. “I frequently would refer to him as the male version of Mother Theresa.”

The association began in 2006 when Partners in Health co-founder and Regis honorary degree recipient Ophelia Dahl delivered a stirring commencement speech that led President Hays to ask “What could we do to help?” Seated behind them, Dr. Farmer heard the offer and soon after, President Hays made her first trip to Haiti accompanied by PIH staff, a journey that evolved into a partnership that endures to this day.

“He will be so sorely missed by all of us and so many people around the world,” President Hays tells Lawana, “but we will carry on his mission.”