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Chancellor Says Growth in Enrollment, Clinical Revenue Make 2016-2017 a Win

In his annual State of the University Address, Chancellor Steve Schwab said the university registered a strong performance in 2016-2017. (Photos by Allen Gillespie/UTHSC)

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s academic and clinical performance over the last year has been at “a national caliber level,” Chancellor Steve Schwab, MD, said during his annual State of the University Address. Revenues were the highest ever for the university, and student recruitment and performance continued an upward trajectory.

“I think we’ve concluded a very strong year,” he said. The progress in 2016-2017 pushes the university steadily toward the goal he set several years ago to move into the top quartile of academic health care institutions.

Dr. Schwab said the university has continued to expand its reach with clinical programs in medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy across the state. “We truly are a state-spanning institution,” he said.

The chancellor said significant new hires enrich the university’s position academically, clinically, and financially. They include Stephen E. Alway, PhD, dean of the College of Health Professions, whose research experience supplements the already strong academic programs in that college, and Love Collins, III, who brings a wealth of experience as the new vice chancellor for Development and Alumni Affairs. Dr. Schwab also mentioned Neil Hayes, MD, MPH, scientific director of the UT/West Institute for Cancer Research, and Colleen Jonsson, PhD, who will direct the Regional Biocontainment Laboratory.

The past year brought the largest annual revenue in the university’s history, he said. UTHSC generated $357 million in clinical revenue; $257 million in sponsored programs (non-clinical grants and contracts), the largest in the UT System; $17 million in philanthropy; $141 million in state appropriations; and $86 million in tuition.

Dr. Schwab said best-ever clinical revenue growth positions the university to progress.

“This is the most revenue we’ve ever had, and it finds us in a very strong go-forward position to carry out our missions,” he told the faculty and staff gathered for the address. He said the next major clinical goal is to develop a cardiovascular institute to position the university as a destination for adult cardiovascular diagnosis and treatment.

Dr. Schwab pointed to the unprecedented construction on the Memphis campus as a tangible sign of progress. The new Delta Dental Building is on track toward construction, he said. It will be a glass and steel structure wrapping the current dental building, offering a more attractive façade, as well as additional clinical and academic space.

Impending renovation of the Historic Quadrangle will bring the College of Nursing its first home, and return students to the center of campus for the first time since the 1970’s. Renovations to the Nash Building and Nash Annex will yield 100,000 square feet of state-of-the-art research space, in addition to the prime research space that was added with the opening in recent years of the Translational Science Research Building and the Cancer Research Building.

Projects planned in the future include a $150 million building for the College of Medicine at the corner of Madison Avenue and Pauline Street, a public/private housing development for the corner of Madison Avenue and Manassas Street, and a desire to build a badly needed downtown Women’s and Infants Pavilion in collaboration with our hospital partners near the nationally ranked Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.

“We are steadily and reliably bringing faculty, staff, and students best-in-class practice facilities,” Dr. Schwab said.

The Center for Health Care Improvement and Patient Simulation soon to open in Memphis is a reflection of this. It will allow students from all six colleges to train together in simulation settings. “We’re going to change the face of preclinical education with the new simulation center,” he said.

“We are aggressively growing our enrollment in a way that exceeds our peers,” he said. Enrollment continues to climb to a total of 3,201 students and 1,496 residents and fellows, he said. “Our graduation rates are spectacular.” The most recent graduation rate reached 97 percent, and the first-time board pass rate is at 94 percent.

Dr. Schwab cited the College of Dentistry for its recent reaccreditation and its expanding statewide clinical practice program. “It’s a credit to have that group here,” he said.

He said the College of Nursing is “a dynamic college that has always been in the forefront.” It trains more nurse practitioners than other institutions, is continually exploring new specialties to add to its academic roster, and is expected to become a statewide presence in the near future.

Dr. Schwab applauded the College of Pharmacy for nearly doubling its research funding.

He said the university’s research is holding steady, but pledged to redouble efforts to increase research funding in the future.

“In summary, I can tell you that as we close this year, our education is still performing at a national caliber level. In clinical, we clearly are in the national top quartile. In research, we haven’t lost anything, but we haven’t gained the ground we need to.”

He commended the faculty and staff for their work, and encouraged an even stronger performance in the future. “We’re hitting well,” Dr. Schwab said. “I think we need to hit better.”

Watch the entire State of the University Address