After a nationwide search, Brigitte Grant, a seasoned advancement leader in public academic health science, higher education and non-profit organizations, has been named vice chancellor for advancement at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.
Grant joins a stellar UT Foundation team of vice chancellors supporting all University of Tennessee campuses on May 1. Her appointment comes at a particularly strategic point, as the UTHSC advancement team has been on an impressive trajectory with recent successes in raising UTHSC’s philanthropic profile and amplifying its reach and impact across Tennessee.
“Brigitte brings a comprehensive understanding of the life-changing impact of private support for an academic health science center, and I’m confident she will strengthen the partnership between the Foundation, UT Health Science Center and the community,” said UT Foundation President Kerry Witcher.
Grant acknowledged UTHSC’s philanthropic momentum when she interviewed for the vice chancellor position. “The UTHSC advancement team’s recent success is compelling – you are rocking it,” she said.
Since December 2022, the UTHSC advancement team has increased UTHSC’s fundraising by more than 331%, already surpassing the year-end fundraising target, and is lining the year up to be one of the top fundraising years in history. In February, UTHSC conducted its inaugural Family Campaign, a monthlong effort to encourage donations by faculty, staff and administrators, as a reflection of their pride in the accomplishments of their institution. This first-ever Family Campaign surpassed its goal by 124 percent with 620 donors.
The momentum has continued to build with internal and external training in philanthropy for the UTHSC advancement team and Health Science Center deans, as well as a pronounced increase in communications highlighting UTHSC’s impact and statewide presence and illustrating the theme “Memphis is our home …Tennessee is our campus.” Collectively, these efforts, along with the value of an academic health science center as evidence during the COVID-19 pandemic, provide a favorable environment for furthering health sciences philanthropy.
“Philanthropy is now a top priority at UTHSC,” said Chancellor Peter Buckley, MD. “UTHSC is on our way, and Brigitte has the skills, leadership and passion for our noble mission to lead the charge alongside her dedicated team.” In building on UTHSC’s momentum, Grant, in her inspirational remarks, encouraged the university community to “be bold” and to magnify its success, growing partnerships and collaborations and building a philanthropic culture based on relationships and innovative ideas.
“The generosity and support of our alumni and community donors can be transformative,” Chancellor Buckley added. “Giving opens doors and creates remarkable opportunities for our great students, faculty and communities, and I am thrilled to have Brigitte join our team to advance these relationships.”
As Tennessee’s only statewide, public academic health care institution, UTHSC is vital to Tennessee and 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 Tennessee. 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 plague Tennesseans today.
The legacy and statewide impact of UTHSC is compelling, and as the chief advancement officer at UTHSC, Grant will build on this legacy providing the leadership and coordination of the development and alumni programs with the six college deans and in collaboration with the UTHSC senior leadership team, as well as health care and community partners. Also, the University of Tennessee Foundation provides excellent leadership and support in working closely with the UT System president and the chancellor for each campus to identify strategic private support priorities, create fundraising strategies and tactics and implement development programs.
“Dr. Peter Buckley is setting a bold vision for UTHSC, and I am thrilled with the opportunity to engage with constituents and leverage partnerships across the state to bring that vision to life,” Grant said.
Most recently, Grant was instrumental in the completion of a $500 million campaign at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, including the establishment of over 100 new endowments and a transformational gift of $25 million.
Grant received a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from Illinois State University and an MBA from Bradley University. She has held development positions at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and University of Illinois at Chicago, as well as over 20 years with the Children’s Home Association of Illinois.
With UTHSC Strategic Planning process nearing completion and several recent academic successes and impressive recognitions, philanthropic giving is playing a major role now in transforming UTHSC and improving health care across the state. Building upon the momentum from a $53 million Tennessee Department of Health grant for the “Healthy Smiles Initiative” to increase the dental workforce in Tennessee, UTHSC next month will formally open the $45 million Delta Dental of Tennessee Building. Under the leadership of Delta Dental CEO Phil Wenk, DDS, chair of the UTHSC Advisory Board, immediate past chair of the UT Foundation Board of Directors and an alumnus of the UTHSC College of Dentistry, Delta Dental of Tennessee provided $6.3 million for construction costs and $1.4 million for equipment.
“This very generous support, coupled with the tremendous giving by our College of Dentistry alumni all across Tennessee and the outstanding support of the Tennessee Department of Health and the Tennessee Legislature, allows us to have more space and to have state-of-the-art equipment to train the dental workforce for Tennessee and Arkansas,” Chancellor Buckley said. It also sets a compelling example of return on investment for other organizations and individuals to follow in considering philanthropic giving to UTHSC.
“Philanthropic support and public-private partnerships to expand our facilities and grow our training is a win-win for the university, and ultimately, the people we serve,” Dr. Wenk said. “And Brigitte is joining a committed team at UTHSC.”
It is also noteworthy that UTHSC’s recent momentum in advancement had been galvanized by Charles “Charley” Deal, PhD, who has served as the interim vice chancellor for advancement at UTHSC, while also retaining his position at UT Martin as the vice chancellor for university advancement.
“We are grateful that Charley shared his expertise and collegial spirit with UTHSC over the last few months,” UT Foundation President Witcher said. “Remarkably, and with great enthusiasm, Charley has done two jobs expertly and has made a major impact through raising our philanthropic profile.”
Dr. Deal’s leadership was embraced by the UTHSC advancement team and contributed to their highly impressive upward trajectory in fundraising. “Charley’s service has been invaluable during this transition,” Chancellor Buckley added.
“It has been an honor to serve as interim vice chancellor, fulfilling President Randy Boyd’s vision of the Be One UT motto,” Dr. Deal said. “Brigitte will not only be a wonderful colleague, trusted partner and champion for the UTHSC advancement team, but someone who inspires, and she and her team will elevate the philanthropic profile of UTHSC.”
The University of Tennessee Foundation’s mission is to raise financial, public, and political support for the University of Tennessee. A nonprofit corporation, the Foundation helps meet the needs of the University by augmenting state and institutional funds, and enriching the lives of students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends. For more information about the UT Foundation, visit www.utfi.org.
As Tennessee’s only public, statewide, academic health system, the mission of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center is to improve the health and well-being of Tennesseans and the global community by fostering integrated, collaborative, and inclusive education, research, scientific discovery, clinical care and public service. For more information, visit www.uthsc.edu.