Five distinguished alumni were honored during the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s (UTHSC) College of Medicine’s Outstanding Alumni Awards luncheon September 15. The event was held at the Westin Memphis Beale Street in Downtown Memphis. Approximately 100 people were in attendance.
Outstanding Alumnus: Mark S. Gaylord, MD (COM ’78)
Dr. Mark Gaylord has placed service to others as his top priority. Known as a true leader and patient advocate, friends and colleagues alike describe his spirit as the true embodiment of a healing physician.
As an undergraduate at the University of Tennessee at Martin (UTM), Dr. Gaylord demonstrated leadership skills. He followed his calling to serve by enrolling in the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Medicine. His primary interest was in children’s health, and he was named the Outstanding Pediatric Student by the college. His academic record was one of consistent excellence, resulting in membership in the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.
Following his graduation from UTHSC, he received a pediatric residency and neonatal-perinatal fellowship training at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, now known as the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Upon completion, the University of Colorado immediately offered him a job as attending neonatologist and clinical instructor. After two years, he was recruited to join a burgeoning neonatal practice at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Dr. Gaylord has worked for more than 30 years in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, and currently serves as the medical director for the NICU.
He is a tireless advocate, fighting the political battles for fair and equitable health care for all patients. In addition to his responsibilities as a clinician, Dr. Gaylord has been a professor for over 30 years. He is a full professor of pediatrics in the UT Graduate School of Medicine. He has been a member of the UTHSC College of Medicine’s Knoxville campus faculty since 1986.
Dr. Gaylord is interested in new clinical research that could potentially benefit his patients. Two of his major contributions have been in developing a new type of incubator that improves the tiniest premature infant’s microenvironment and working with the late Dr. Forrest Bird, inventor of the first baby ventilator, in developing one of the first high frequency ventilators. This new incubator is standard in most NICUs in the United States and the ventilator helped change the way babies with lung disease are treated.
Beyond his responsibilities for direct patient care and teaching, Dr. Gaylord has statewide responsibilities in administration through the Tennessee Perinatal Advisory Committee and Tennessee Initiative for Perinatal Quality Care. He has served important roles with the March of Dimes, the Ronald McDonald House, American Academy of Pediatrics, Healthy Families, Tennessee Perinatal Association and National Perinatal Association (for which he served as president from 2001-2002). He investigated and promoted the testing processes for detecting newborn hearing loss. These infant hearing tests are now part of the universal newborn screening in Tennessee and throughout the United States.
Dr. Gaylord has served as a member of the UTHSC COM Alumni Council since 2005, and he has been given the University Health System Philanthropy Award by the Great Smoky Mountain Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals for his work on behalf of UTHSC.
A passion for pediatrics runs deep in Dr. Gaylord’s family. His wife is a pediatric nurse practitioner and professor in the UTK College of Nursing. Both his daughter and daughter-in-law are also pediatric nurse practitioners. His son is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon.
Outstanding Alumnus: Robert Kaplan (COM ’73)
As a student nearing graduation at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine in 1973, Dr. Robert J. Kaplan was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. This prestigious society makes selections based on a combination of academic standing, leadership, professionalism, and a firm sense of ethics. Only a small number of students are selected each year. Inductees to this prestigious society exhibit a commitment to service in the school and community. Dr. Kaplan has maintained this standard throughout his entire career.
Dr. Kaplan has set a powerful example among his peers to raise their level of participation in support of the University of Tennessee. Since his graduation from the medical school, he has been a prominent spokesperson in support of the university at all its campuses and in all its activities.
Most recently, in January 2017 at the UT President’s Council Awards Dinner, Dr. Kaplan was awarded the top award for the system by UT President Dr. Joe DiPietro, the Jim and Natalie Haslam Presidential Medal. The medal is awarded to individuals who have a record of supporting the university through exemplary giving, volunteer leadership, and service. Recipients also motivate others to support the University of Tennessee and exhibit a personal history of integrity and excellence.
Dr. Kaplan’s transformational philanthropy to the University of Tennessee and the College of Medicine allowed for the creation of the Kaplan Clinical Skills and Assessment Center in 2005. Dr. Kaplan’s support and vision led to the creation of the Kaplan-Amonette Department of Dermatology at UTHSC in 2013, for which the University of Tennessee named him Philanthropist of the Year. In 2014, the position of dean of the UTHSC College of Medicine was named the Robert Kaplan Executive Dean in his honor.
Dr. Kaplan and his close friend, Dr. Rodney Wolf, provided support to establish the Wolf-Kaplan Athletics Recruiting Center inside Neyland Stadium in 2002.
A native of New Jersey, Dr. Kaplan received his undergraduate education at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and returned to the state for his internship at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pennsylvania. Dr. Kaplan completed his dermatology residency at UTHSC in 1977. He practices medicine in Memphis at Kaplan Dermatology, and holds multiple leadership positions at UTHSC, including serving on the UTHSC Foundation’s board of directors and the UTHSC College of Medicine Alumni Council.
Dr. Kaplan has been a longtime member of the Tennessee Medical Association, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Dermatology, and the Memphis Medical Society. He is a native of Englewood, New Jersey, and he and his wife, Becky, reside in Memphis.
Outstanding Alumnus: Dr. Ron H. Kirkland (COM ’77)
At the end of 2015, Dr. Ron Kirkland retired from The Jackson Clinic, a multispecialty group practice comprising 135 physicians, where he practiced Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery for 31 years and served on the Board of Directors and as Board Chairman. In the community, he has been president of the Jackson Rotary Club and the University of Tennessee National Alumni Association. He is also on the boards of Aspell Recovery Center and A Step Ahead Foundation of West Tennessee, and serves as the Legislative Chairman of the Tennessee Medical Association. Dr. Kirkland is a member of the American Medical Association, the Tennessee Medical Association, and the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.
Dr. Kirkland served as a U.S. Army counterintelligence agent in Vietnam from 1970 until 1971, and later received his medical degree in 1977 from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, where he received the Distinguished Service Award. In 1982 he completed his residency in Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis. He is certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology. Dr. Kirkland subsequently earned an MBA from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2010.
Dr. Kirkland has been honored by the University of Tennessee at Martin with its Chancellor’s Award for University Service, and by the Tennessee AAU Girls Basketball with its Bill and Ann Tipps “Volunteer of the Year” Award. He has served as chairman of the UTM Development Committee and has served on the UT Athletic Board, the UT Development Council, and the UTHSC Medical Alumni Council. Currently, he serves on the UTM Chancellor’s Round Table, the UT President’s Council, and is on the board of the Tennessee Higher Education PAC.
Dr. Kirkland was chair of the American Medical Group Association (AMGA), and subsequently was chair of the AMGA Foundation. He served as the AMGA delegate to the American Medical Association where he served on the Governing Council of the Integrated Physician Practice Section. Last year, he was honored with a Legacy Award from AMGA. Ron was on the founding board of the Council of Accountable Physician Practices for ten years and served as treasurer for four years.
Dr. Kirkland and his wife, Carol, have four children and seven grandchildren. Among them, there are 10 University of Tennessee degrees.
Outstanding Alumnus: Dr. Mitchell L. Mutter (COM ’72)
Dr. Mitchell Mutter is described by friends and colleagues as an outstanding professional, mentor, teacher, leader, and humanitarian. He attended the University of Tennessee, Knoxville on a football scholarship, graduating in 1968. He moved on to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis to pursue a degree in medicine.
Following his 1972 UTHSC graduation, Dr. Mutter served until 1976 as a general medical officer in the U.S. Army at Walter Reed Army Medical Center Andrew Rader Clinic. He went on to complete his internship, internal medicine residency, and cardiology fellowship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center (online it is called Walter Reed National Military Medical Center) in Washington, D.C. He is board certified in internal medicine and cardiology.
After his service at Walter Reed, he was chief of Cardiology at the Eisenhower Army Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia. He left active military service with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He returned to Knoxville in 1982 to begin a private cardiology practice. He also served on the faculty for UTHSC as associate professor of medicine. In 1992, he began practicing cardiology in Chattanooga. He was chief of staff at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga from 2004 to 2007. Since 2012, Dr. Mutter has served as medical director of Special Projects for the Tennessee Department of Health, where he spearheads the state’s pain management task force.
Dr. Mutter is the founder of the Children’s Nutrition Program of Haiti, which has employees in Chattanooga and Haiti. The grassroots nutrition program is designed to empower and enable a generation of healthy Haitian children. In 2007, he was named a Citizen Diplomat by Sister Cities International for his work in Haiti.
Dr. Mutter has been president of the Tennessee Heart Association, president of the Hamilton County Medical Society, and president of the Hamilton County Medical Foundation. Until recently he was president of the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners, the regulatory and disciplinary board for physicians in Tennessee. Over his distinguished career, Dr. Mutter has served on research teams as either a principal, co-investigator, or sub-investigator for more than 25 research studies in the area of cardiology.
Dr. Mutter was named the 2007 Outstanding Physician by the Tennessee Medical Association. He also received the Medical Staff Meritorious Service Award from the Tennessee Hospital Association in 2007. In 2010, he received an “Angel for Children” award from Bethany Christian Services. Recently he received the 2012 Distinguished Physicians Award from Erlanger Baroness Foundation.
Dr. Mutter is married to Carol Mutter, an attorney, and current mayor of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee. They have three grown sons and six grandchildren.
Outstanding Alumnus: Dr. Rodney Y. Wolf (COM ’57)
Dr. Rodney Wolf has maintained strong ties to UTHSC throughout his illustrious career in Memphis. He has remained connected to students and faculty through his appointment as an assistant professor of surgery at the College of Medicine and has students rotate through his private practice. Dr. Wolf is semi-retired, and remains in practice with his eldest son, Brad. Both specialize in cardiovascular surgery.
Dr. Wolf attended UT Knoxville for his freshman year, until a friend suggested he join him at the University of Georgia. Dr. Wolf figured it was time he tried living somewhere else. He graduated from Georgia, but never lost his love for the University of Tennessee.
Dr. Wolf came to UTHSC as a student in 1957. He remembers those with a positive impact and attributes this to his strong feelings for the campus. “When people you respect take you under their wing, educate you, and show you the way, you have a close feeling for those people and the institution they represent.” He recalls finding mentors who were very good and taught him a lot. “Those whom I consider my mentors set an example for how to practice medicine and how to live my life. I would very much like to help students in the same way.”
The first scholarship from the Rodney Y. Wolf, MD & Brenda C. Wolf Endowed Scholarship Fund at the UTHSC College of Medicine will be awarded during the fall 2017 semester.