“We’re concerned about the things that impact this community,” Ken Brown, JD, MPA, PhD, FACHE, executive vice chancellor and chief operations officer for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, today told members of the Executive Program Class of 2020 for Leadership Memphis.
“Our work, every day, beyond education, is the overall health of the people in the community,” he said at the organization’s Higher Education Forum. He cited what he called the university’s “Memphis-centric” population health-focused research built around diseases, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes, that impact the community the most. The university was the Spotlight Sponsor for the Leadership Memphis forum.
Dr. Brown joined leaders from the University of Memphis, Rhodes College, Christian Brothers University, and Southwest Tennessee Community College for a panel on post-secondary education. All agreed that higher education institutions play a significant role in ensuring the city is a good place to live and that its youth are prepared for the workplace of the future.
UTHSC is a major contributor to the state and local economy, adding $4.3 billion to the state’s economy, Dr. Brown said. As such, the university has a strong interest in attracting and training students who will be health care workers who will stay in Memphis and Tennessee. ”You don’t want your best and brightest to go to the Wake Forests and the Dukes,” he said.
The panelists said it is important to build a pipeline of students who are motivated from a young age to aspire to higher education. Dr. Brown said UTHSC has a number of educational pipeline programs, including Determined to be a Doctor Someday, which introduces children as young as pre-school to information about careers in health care and encourages them to think of the health care profession as an option.
Panel members said their institutions are working more closely together to address the poverty in Memphis that impacts everything from educational achievement to workforce readiness.