The University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s Advisory Board met Wednesday, May 11, in Memphis, welcoming new members, hearing a report from Chancellor Peter Buckley, MD, on his first few months in office, receiving updates from the deans of UTHSC’s six colleges, and approving the university’s FY 2023 budget, which raises its minimum wage to $17 an hour.
Held in the beautifully renovated Mooney Building on the Memphis campus, it was the board’s first in-person gathering since the start of the pandemic. The meeting opened with a welcome to new members Randall A. Davis, MD, and Josh J. Wayman, DDS, and a tribute to U. S. District Judge Mark Norris, who is rotating off the board after three years of service. “This has been very meaningful to me over the last three years,” Judge Norris said.
In addressing the board, Chancellor Buckley said, “We have a remarkable story to tell.” He cited major accomplishments by the university, including its recent reaccreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges for 10 years with no adverse findings or recommendations. “That’s quite extraordinary, and sets us up for the future,” he said.
The chancellor also pointed to the university’s growing statewide clinical and academic presence, and the national rankings for several colleges and programs, including the College of Pharmacy at No. 20, the College of Medicine at No. 26 for primary care, the College of Nursing at No. 27 for its Doctor of Nursing Practice programs, and the Department of Audiology at No 26.
As Tennessee’s only public statewide academic health science system, UTHSC is the largest educator of health care professionals in the state, has the largest residency/fellowship programs, and its faculty members are clinicians at major hospital partner institutions across the state, he said.
Chancellor Buckley said he will focus on advancing these strategic clinical partnerships. He said the university will strive to drive innovation, provide complex care with the best health care professionals and equipment, and serve as an intersection of patient care, learning, and discovery.
“We need to be prepared and be the leaders in the brave new world of higher education and health care after COVID-19,” the chancellor said.
Chancellor Buckley lauded Ken Brown, JD, MPA, PhD, FACHE, executive vice chancellor and chief operations officer for UTHSC, and acknowledged the support of the Tennessee Legislature for renovations and new buildings on the Memphis campus that would be the envy of any university in the nation.
The board members heard reports from the deans on the many accomplishments in the various colleges.
- The College of Pharmacy is ranked No. 14 in funding from the National Institutes of Health among 140 U.S Colleges of Pharmacy. The college now has three-year and four-year pathways to PharmD degrees.
- The College of Nursing has been named a National League of Nursing Center of Excellence (2021-2025) for enhancing student learning and professional development. The college is also working to establish a joint Bachelor of Science in Nursing program with UT Southern.
- The College of Medicine is focusing on equity, diversity, and inclusion and on the promotion of women in medicine, said Dean Scott Strome, MD. Research awards have seen significant increases over the past several years, and the college is increasing its community engagement with the Frayser Community Garden and its Health Hub in Uptown.
- The College of Health Profession is working to establish a new Master of Science in Pathologist’s Assistant program and has newly renovated space for its Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology in the UT Conference Center in Knoxville.
- The College of Graduate Health Sciences is focusing on trainee career development with the assistance of its successful alumni across the country.
- The College of Dentistry continues to expand its clinical reach, developing new D4 rotations in Crossville and Knoxville and working with the Tennessee Department of Health through a $53 million, five-year grant to improve dental care across Tennessee. The college is anticipating the completion of its new Delta Dental of Tennessee Building on the Memphis campus in 2023.
Anthony Ferrara, CPA, MAS, senior vice chancellor for finance and chief financial officer for UTHSC, presented the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2023, which begins July 1. The $676 million budget, approved by the board, includes the 4% salary increase for employees approved by the Tennessee Legislature. UTHSC is allocating additional funds to raise its minimum wage to $17 an hour, Ferrara said.
Advisory Board Chairman Phil Wenk, DDS, president and CEO of Delta Dental of Tennessee, thanked the board members for their participation and wisdom. “The UTHSC leadership gave us today a comprehensive overview of UTHSC’s academic mission,” Dr. Wenk said. “We are excited about the future of our great university.”
The advisory board meeting is available to view on the UTHSC Advisory Board webpage.