Robert Gumbiner


College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award (1991)
Indiana University Bloomington
B.S. 1944, M.D. 1948


Dr. Robert Gumbiner had three careers; a practicing physician, founder of FHP International, the first HMO, and a philanthropic patron of the arts. He graduated from Indiana University with both a B.A. (1944) and M.D. (1948) and moved out to Southern California in 1949 with his wife. There, he practiced as a physician and served in the Air Force during the Korean War. In 1955, Gumbiner and nine other doctors established a private practice with a prepaid healthcare plan.

By 1962, Gumbiner converted the medical practice into FHP, which has evolved into one of the largest managed-care organizations. It was one of the first HMOs to embrace government-assistance programs for the poor and elderly and now is amongst the largest HMOs in the United States. Gumbiner stepped down as CEO in 1990 and fully retired from medicine in 1996.

Throughout his medical career, Gumbiner became passionate about Latin American art, which he turned to after retirement. He was a contributor to the Huntington Beach Arts Center in Huntington Beach, CA, the Art Museum at California State University, Long Beach and the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, CA. In 1996, he decided to put forth his time and financial support to multiple major art museum projects for the remainder of his life. He founded the Ethnic Art Institute of Micronesia on the island of Yap, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of Micronesian and Yapese traditional arts. Gumbiner also established the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach in 1996, the only museum devoted to modern and contemporary Latin American art in the United States. At the time of his death in 2009, he was instrumental to the creation of the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum in Long Beach, which currently holds his personal collection of Pacific Island ethnic art.