After a national search and several on-campus interviews and presentations, Raaj Kurapati, AIFA, a seasoned executive with more than three decades of experience in public higher education and private industry, has been named the new executive vice chancellor and chief operating officer for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC).
Kurapati comes to UTHSC after having served since 2018 as the executive vice president and chief operating and financial officer for the University of Memphis (UofM). In this role, Kurapati was responsible for all administrative and financial units of the University of Memphis, with prominence in civic, legislative, philanthropic, and community outreach activities, as well as overseeing all financial and operational activities.
Kurapati now fills the position formerly held by Kennard Brown, JD, MPH, PHD, FACHE, who retired last month after 25 years of dedicated and highly impactful service to the university. As executive vice chancellor and COO, Kurapati will be responsible for coordinating the day-to-day administrative operations and management of the campus’s central administration, as well as other duties in line with his extensive experience.
“I am humbled and honored to have been selected to be the next executive vice chancellor and chief operating officer at UTHSC,” Kurapati said. “I believe the unique set of skills I have acquired and refined over the course of my career, having worked both in private industry and public higher education, will allow me to positively contribute to the phenomenal team at UTHSC and assure continued excellence in all the great work underway throughout the state of Tennessee.”
UTHSC is the largest educator of health care professionals across the state. Additionally, UTHSC’s clinical faculty and more than 1,400 residents and fellows staff major hospitals in Memphis and across the state providing outstanding care to Tennesseans. With six colleges – Dentistry, Health Professions, Graduate Health Sciences, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy – UTHSC has more than 3,100 students, who are Tennessee’s future health care workforce and more than 380 researchers working on cures for diseases that most-affect Tennesseans today.
Last week, the UT Board of Trustees approved UTHSC’s 2023-2028 Strategic Plan, outlining the university’s plans for the future. The plan defined UTHSC’s inspirational new vision for the future in four words: Healthy Tennesseans. Thriving Communities. It centers on five strategic pillars: Engaging Communities, Educational Excellence, Expanding Research, Advancing Health, and Developing Talent. The pillars rest on a new, streamlined mission statement and encompass values that reflect the UT System’s Be One UT values with added focus on the health sciences.
“We are delighted to have Raaj join the UTHSC team as our executive vice chancellor and chief operating officer effective September 1,” said UTHSC Chancellor Peter Buckley, MD. “The wealth of experience he brings, along with his deep understanding of our community and the state, will complement our stellar leadership team and will be instrumental to moving the vision set forth in our new strategic plan.”
Before joining the UofM in 2018, Kurapati served in several executive roles in public higher education, including as the vice president and chief financial officer for Texas A&M University in Kingsville, associate vice chancellor and executive officer at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and chief financial and administrative officer for Northern Marianas College in the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
Prior to transitioning to public higher education in 2003, Kurapati held leadership roles in business and private industry for approximately 12 years, serving as an assurance and consulting senior professional at Deloitte and as a vice president and chief financial and compliance officer for a community bank.
Kurapati maintains a high profile as a servant leader with leadership roles on the boards of several local, national, and international nonprofit boards as a volunteer. These include the Asia Pacific Association for Fiduciary Studies, the American Heart Association, the Memphis Economic Club, the Memphis Minority Business Consortium, the Alaska Microgrid Group, and others. “Engaging and supporting the local and national not-for-profit entities that serve our communities is an awesome responsibility,” he said. “I am honored and humbled to be called upon to serve and will continue to do so going forward.”
Kurapati thanked all who participated in this search process, led by Vice Chancellor for Academic, Faculty, and Student Affairs Cindy Russell, PhD; College of Health Professions Dean Stephen Alway, PhD; and the entire search committee, for their professionalism and engagement.
“I have some very big shoes to fill in this role, but have been extremely impressed with the team I have the pleasure of joining,” Kurapati said. “I am confident that together we will accomplish great things in advancing our statewide presence and UTHSC’s powerful vision of Healthy Tennesseans. Thriving Communities.”