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Waller Honored with UTHSC Dean


Robert R. Waller, MD, was recently honored with the Dean’s Special Recognition Award during the UTHSC’s College of Medicine Alumni Weekend.

Robert R. Waller, MD, was recently honored with the Dean’s Special Recognition Award during the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Medicine Alumni Weekend.

The award recognizes exemplary volunteer service to the medical profession and the college. An ophthalmologist by trade, Dr. Waller has been a leader in healthcare throughout his highly successful career. Most recently, he was tapped to chair the search committee for a permanent chancellor for the UT Health Science Center.

A UTHSC College of Medicine graduate, Dr. Waller served as president of the Mayo Foundation’s Board of Trustees from 1978 to 1998 and as president and CEO from 1988 to 1998. In January 1999, he was named president emeritus of the foundation, which runs the world-renowned Mayo Clinics in Rochester, Minn.; Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Jacksonville, Fla.

During his time at the foundation, the clinic made great strides, including: launching the Mayo Health System, a regional network of hospitals and clinics that serves more than 30 communities in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin; growing the number of doctors on staff from 838 in 1984 to 2,174 in 1998; increasing outpatient visits from 980,000 in 1984 to 3,680,000 in 1998; and doubling its investment in education and research.

A native Memphian, Dr. Waller returned to his hometown after retiring from the Mayo Foundation. Since then, he has used his considerable experience, contacts and influence to affect major changes in the healthcare landscape of the Mid-South.

Dr. Waller co-chaired the Norfleet Executive Forum on Health, a semi-annual forum on selected healthcare issues. The 2003 forum laid out specific objectives and suggested actions to fight the growing problems of diabetes and obesity in the Mid-South, which contributed to the formation of the Healthy Memphis Common Table.

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Dr. Waller served as the initial chairman of the University Medical Center Alliance and continues in an advisory role. The alliance is a coalition of medical center hospitals, the UT Health Science Center and the Memphis Business Group on Health that works toward improving the quality, safety and cost of healthcare in Memphis. He is also an advisor to the Memphis Quality Initiative, which brings all types of healthcare providers, including hospital administrators, pharmacists, nurses and physicians, together to discuss ways of improving healthcare quality in the Memphis area.

Dr. Waller was named a Distinguished Alumnus of the College of Medicine in 1987. He received the Medical Executive Award from the American College of Medical Group Administrators and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Jacksonville. Also, he is a past recipient of the Yater Award from the American Group Practice Association and was named an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. In 2003, he was inducted into Modern Healthcare magazine’s Healthcare Hall of Fame.