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2023 a Year of Accomplishments, Collaboration, and Planning for a Bright Future


In 2023, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center adopted an ambitious new strategic plan, opened a state-of-the-art dental building in Memphis, and added new leadership to guide it into the future.

The 2023-2028 Strategic Plan revolves around an exciting and expansive vision statement: Healthy Tennesseans. Thriving Communities.

The plan reflects UT Health Science Center’s commitment to strengthening partnerships in communities across the state; promoting interprofessional education; growing research, innovation, and entrepreneurship; expanding quality health care statewide; and creating an environment of success for all Tennesseans.

“This plan is building a solid foundation into an exciting future,” Chancellor Peter Buckley, MD, said when the UT Board of Trustees approved the plan in June.

Highly accomplished new leaders joined the university to help build that future. They include Raaj Kurapati, AIFA, executive vice chancellor and chief operating and financial officer; Brigitte Grant, vice chancellor for Advancement; Paul Wesolowski, vice chancellor for Strategic Partnerships; Reginald F. Frye, PharmD, PhD, FCCP, dean of the College of Pharmacy; and G. Nicholas Verne, MD, interim executive dean and vice chancellor for Clinical Affairs for the College of Medicine. Robert Craft, MD, was named dean of the College of Medicine in Knoxville. Brian Wilcox, MD, was named associate dean of Clinical Affairs and Graduate Medical Education of the College of Medicine in Nashville.

Other new leaders include Trey Eubanks, MD, chief of the Division of Pediatric Surgery, who was named president of UT Health Science Center’s principal pediatric partner, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital; Keith Gray, MD, who was appointed president of the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville; Woodi Woodland, a fourth-year medical student, who serves as the student representative on the UT Board of Trustees; and Corinne Gibson, also a fourth-year medical student, who is the student representative to the UTHSC Advisory Board.

Even as UT Health Science Center defined its future, much was accomplished in the present across its academic, clinical, research, and community service missions. The university increased the promotion of its statewide presence and strengthened synergies across all its campuses. Communications and marketing efforts helped raise statewide visibility. Additionally, vital partnerships and the new team are engaging more all across the state of Tennessee.

Here are some highlights from the colleges for 2023:

College of Nursing Dean Wendy Likes, PhD, DNSc, and Chancellor Peter Buckley cut the ribbon at the unveiling of the UTHSC Nursing Mobile Health Unit.
  • The College of Nursing launched the UTHSC Nursing Mobile Health Unit in May, expanding health care in two rural West Tennessee counties. Funded through a four-year, $3.9 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration, the unit is staffed and operated by faculty and students from the college. 
  • The College of Dentistry opened its new $45 million Delta Dental of Tennessee Building on the Memphis campus in April, increasing space for training Tennessee’s dental workforce and expanding facilities to treat patients from the Mid-South. The college also launched a $53 million Healthy Smiles Initiative in collaboration with the Tennessee Department of Health and other partners to increase access to dentists and dental care across Tennessee, particularly in rural areas with the most need.
The 68,000-square-foot Delta Dental of Tennessee Building houses a clinic for patients with special needs; an expanded faculty practice for treating patients, including the uninsured and underinsured; and dental technique labs for first- and second-year students to hone their skills.

  • The College of Medicine received continued accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) for its Graduate Medical Education (GME), medical residency, and fellowship programs in Memphis, Nashville, and Jackson. The College of Medicine’s GME program in Chattanooga and Knoxville also enjoy continuing accreditation status from the ACGME, which oversees the accreditation of medical residency and fellowship programs in the United States.

  • The College of Health Professions secured its largest research grant to date. The Health Resources and Services Administration awarded the college approximately $3.25 million to support a new Health Careers Opportunity Program to address the critical need for a skilled and diverse health care workforce in West Tennessee.

Other UT Health Science Center highlights for 2023:

  • Thanks to the generosity of students, alumni, faculty, and staff, the third-annual UTHSC Giving Day April 25 raised more than $635,000, exceeding its goal of 1,100 gifts in 24 hours with more than 1,200 donations. The second UTHSC Family Campaign in September, a monthlong effort to encourage donations by faculty, staff, and administrators, surpassed its donor goal with 626 donors.
Graduates at the summer commencement ceremony hear words of encouragement and congratulations before walking across the stage.
  • UTHSC graduated 1,231 health care professionals during commencement ceremonies in the spring, summer, and winter.

  • UT Health Science Center’s impact on health care in Memphis was evident during the Memphis Business Journal’s 2023 Health Care Heroes Awards. Nine UTHSC faculty and staff members were among winners and finalists from across the city honored at the awards, which recognize contributions to health care in Memphis. 

“Our accomplishments illustrate the exceptional work everyone at UT Health Science Center does every day to care for the people of Tennessee,” Chancellor Buckley said. “I hope everyone in our UT Health Science Center community is proud of what we have done in 2023 and excited for the future, as we continue to work together toward our shared vision, Healthy Tennesseans. Thriving Communities.”