After a national search, Paul J. Wesolowski, MBA, an accomplished health care leader, has been named the first-ever Vice Chancellor for Strategic Partnerships at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. The new position reflects UTHSC’s commitment to strengthening and expanding the clinical, educational, and all strategic partnerships across the state that are vital to its mission to improve the health of all Tennesseans.
Wesolowski, who joins UTHSC on May 1, has more than 35 years of experience in hospital and health care leadership, administration, and management. He served as the senior vice president and chief operating officer for the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health System in Richmond from 2017 to 2022, where he was responsible for $1.7 billion in managed services and 8,500 full-time employees. Prior to that, he was the vice president for professional services at the Medical College of Virginia Hospitals of the VCU Health System from 2012-2017. In addition to overseeing operations at VCU Health, a Level 1 hospital with 26,000 surgeries and almost 100,000 emergency visits annually and multiple national recognitions for quality care, Wesolowski also played a pivotal role in VCU Health’s community support and outreach during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am really excited for the opportunity to come to Memphis and work in this great community and also all across the state for UT Health Science Center,” Wesolowski said. “I think it is a unique opportunity to really build and improve health care for all Tennesseans. There is huge strategic potential in UT Health Science Center’s having partnerships with multiple hospitals, because we can cover a broader geographic region and offer our trainees so many excellent opportunities.”
As the largest educator of health care professionals across the state, with six colleges – Dentistry, Graduate Health Sciences, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing, and Pharmacy – UTHSC’s faculty and more than 1,400 residents and fellows staff major hospitals in Memphis and across Tennessee.
UTHSC’s main campus is in Memphis, where it has longtime clinical and educational partnerships with hospitals enabling a comprehensive health-care ecosystem that includes Regional One Health, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, Memphis Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Baptist Memorial Healthcare, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, and St. Francis Hospital, as well as multiple specialty clinics, physician practice groups, community, and public health programs. Just last week, UTHSC was honored by Collierville’s Chamber of Commerce for its powerful regional impact, and UTHSC is advancing its community engagement and impact in Memphis and beyond – a strategic imperative that the new Vice Chancellor for Strategic Partnerships will lead.
The university also has campuses in Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga, with clinical and educational partnerships at major hospitals, including Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital in Nashville, Erlanger Health System in Chattanooga, the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, and West Tennessee Healthcare – Jackson Madison County Hospital in Jackson, as well as more than 880 clinical-educational training sites in communities across Tennessee, all supported through strategic partnerships. The Vice Chancellor for Strategic Partnerships will enable these vital relationships to thrive and to broaden UTHSC’s impact in communities all across the great state of Tennessee.
“Partnerships are powerful,” said UTHSC Chancellor Peter Buckley, MD. “We exist in partnerships. Furthermore, we can’t do what we do without our partners, and what we do is vital to Tennessee. As our first-ever Vice Chancellor for Strategic Partnerships, Paul will lead these partnerships in collaboration with our deans and other campus leaders, as we seek to expand our impact on the health of Tennesseans, from the major cities to the rural areas of our state.”
The new vice chancellor position is the result of an international consultant’s recommendation for supporting, unifying, and increasing UTHSC’s partner relationships. The vice chancellor will work with hospitals, physician groups, community health, and health system partners to build and expand clinical programs of excellence; develop community engagement and outreach services; and support alliances that enhance research opportunities. The vice chancellor will also be an engaged partner in civic and community activities, enabling new opportunities for UTHSC to collaborate and serve.
“Paul is a proven health care leader with decades of experience in building relationships essential to improving institutions and forging new affiliations. His outstanding work at VCU and many other health care organizations during his career bodes well for the impact he will have at UTHSC. We are thrilled he is joining us in our noble and essential mission.”Chancellor Buckley
“Collaborations and partnerships are essential for this institution and its continued progress and for strengthening our relationships with civic and business communities across Tennessee,” said Phil Wenk, DDS, CEO of Delta Dental of Tennessee, and chair of the UTHSC Advisory Board. “The new vice chancellor for strategic partnerships is a position that will set UTHSC up for future success, and Paul is the right person to take on this new exciting role.”
Wesolowski graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Management. He holds a Master’s in Business Administration from Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania.
He began his career as the kitchen production manager at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a renowned children’s facility. The food services position introduced him to hospital operations and service management and allowed him to grow skills in both. “One of the hallmarks of my career is I haven’t always been the expert in what I’ve had to do, and so I’ve strived to bring others together to harness talent in addressing complex questions,” he said. “I see myself as a servant leader.”
During his career, Wesolowski has served as a leader in several health care institutions, including as the corporate vice president of ambulatory operations and business development for Health Alliance Hospital in Leominster, Massachusetts, with approximately 1,600 employees and 150 acute-care beds. He also was vice president for operations at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, annually ranked the nation’s No. 1 rehabilitation hospital by U. S. News & World Report since 1991. Also, while at VCU, he forged a highly innovative new partnership with Sheltering Arms Rehabilitation – also involving Richmond’s Veteran’s Affairs Health System – to enable a more comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach to care that involves specialists in all the health sciences collaborating together.
“I’m really passionate about public health and health care in general and pursuing excellence and I do think we do this best collectively as a team. I go back to that team philosophy. In operations, it’s all about the team. I think, as we look to improve health for all individuals, it’s a group effort.”Paul Wesolowski
Reflecting the many stakeholders for this new role, the search committee had very broad representation and was superbly chaired by Wendy Likes, PhD, DNSc, dean of the College of Nursing, and Nicholas Verne, MD, chair of the Department of Medicine in the College of Medicine, with strategic input from many interviewees across all campuses, partners, and communities. “Thank you to Wendy and Nick and to the entire search committee, and of course, also to our many colleagues and friends, who came together to help us select an outstanding leader for this important new position for our institution and for Tennessee,” Chancellor Buckley said.