The University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine, Knoxville

Celebrating a Legacy: Dean Neutens Retires

educationJames Neutens, PhD, Dean of the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine since 2007, is retiring after a 34-year career with UT. He served as the third dean since the formalization of the UT Graduate School of Medicine in 1991.

Following an appointment at UT Knoxville that began in 1984, he joined faculty at UT Graduate School of Medicine (UTGSM) in 1990 as an Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and was promoted to Professor in 1995. He joined the administration team in 1997 as Associate Dean for Education and Faculty Affairs, was promoted to Executive Dean in 2004 and Interim Dean in 2005. He also served as the Chief Academic Officer for The University of Tennessee Medical Center. Dr. Neutens will continue his role as a Professor, working with faculty in the Obstetrics and Gynecology department.

As Dean, Dr. Neutens oversaw incredible growth for the UT Graduate School of Medicine while supporting the mission of healing, education and discovery. His leadership in managing partnerships with physicians, UT institutions and local organizations leaves a legacy that will continue to be prominent for UTGSM.


William Metheny, PhD, Assistant Dean of Graduate Medical and Dental Education said, "Dr. Neutens made medical education the first priority in his leadership to sustain, improve and expand our residency and fellowship programs."

Dean Neutens's track record proves it. Since 2007, several residency programs have grown in size including Anesthesiology, Internal Medicine, General Surgery, and Urology.

During his tenure, UTGSM added several fellowships including Cardiovascular Disease, Interventional Cardiology, Pulmonary and Critical Care Disease, Oral/Head and Neck Oncologic Surgery, Forensic Dentistry, Dental Operating Room and Advanced GI MIS/Bariatric.

In 2008, the UT Center for Advanced Medical Simulation opened in a 400-square-foot facility and then in 2012 moved to its new 6,500 square-foot facility, allowing physicians, medical students, and other members of the healthcare team to learn, practice, and improve skills in a safe, controlled environment.

In 2013, the addition of clerkships in neurology, pediatrics and psychiatry allowed GSM to offer a full third- and fourth-year medical school curriculum in Knoxville to UTHSC medical students.

Dean Neutens also re-instated an educational research-based program, the I. Reid Collmann, M.D. Medical Student Educational Endowment, for medical students to begin learning about bench research and how it ultimately effects patient care.

Eric Carlson, DMD, MD, EdM, said Dr. Neutens has been very supportive of faculty development for his academic chairs as well. "He has accomplished essential growth in his chairs through intentful listening and coaching rather than dogmatic direction. The end result has been very favorable professional development through adaptive leadership on the part of Dr. Neutens. We are all very lucky to have benefited by his presence and encouragement."


Discovery embodies many important aspects to both medical education and healing, and having a Dean who understood its importance was critical. Mitchell Goldman, MD, Assistant Dean for Research, said, "He was the right man for the right time."

As Dean, Dr. Neutens influenced significant growth in scholarly activity, encouraging faculty and residents to participate in national and international presentations as well as publish original research in peer-reviewed journals.

During a time when laboratory-based research received less national focus, Dr. Neutens helped establish and grow bench research related to molecular imaging, vascular research, anesthesiology, and amyloidosis and cancer. This research has led to several discoveries and changes in healthcare including:

Under his leadership, UTGSM has increased research collaborations with other UT institutions as well as area organizations such as Siemens and ORNL/UT-Battelle. He supported several seed grant opportunities for UTGSM faculty members who collaborated with UT Knoxville and the UT Institute of Agriculture, and supported the initiation of several communities of scholars to further grow our collaborations.


As an educational institution for physicians, healing patients is the ultimate goal. The GSM clinical partner, University Health Systems Inc., spearheads most of these endeavors, however, Dean Neutens has been instrumental in several key areas of growth.

During his tenure, Dentistry, formerly a division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, formed its own department. Also, Urology, formerly a division of General Surgery, formed its own department. This benefits patients through the ability to recruit prominent physicians up-to-date on the most advanced and latest techniques in healthcare.

W. Bedford Waters, MD, Chairman, Department of Urology, said, "One of Dean Neutens's priorities was for Urology to become a separate department before his retirement. He was very instrumental in making it become a reality, and, I am forever grateful to him for this. He has truly been a leader and a friend."

Family Medicine also expanded its clinic, University Family Physicians, adding more patient rooms and creating a more holistic approach to its healthcare.

Preston Medical Library expanded its facilities and its services in educating the medical center community as well as the public in health literacy and health information.

Overall, Dean Neutens's strength was in seeing a big picture. Amy Paganelli, Assistant Dean for Finance and Administration said, "Dr. Neutens was thorough in researching facts before making a decision."

In 2009, he enlisted assistance through the formation of the Board of Visitors, a diverse group of community leaders to advise and assist him in strategic planning, development, community outreach, and implementation of short-term and long-term goals.

Rajiv Dhand, MD, Chair of Medicine and Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs, said, "Dean Neutens is a dedicated educator, an effective leader with a great sense of humor and he has unique story-telling skills. Over the years, he has guided the GSM to a position of strength as an academic institution."

O. Lee Wilson, DMD, Chairman of Dentistry added, "Dr. Neutens has been a fantastic leader for the GSM. His guidance and support of all of the departments has led to great success in all the important areas of our mission. He was able to stay the course in times of instability making the necessary adjustments with focused leadership. He has set the stage for the new Dean to have a successful transition."

It is through these successes that Dr. Neutens will be remembered as a dean who promoted collaborations, multidisciplinary care, novel research, and compassion in education and healing, always reaching to break through barriers on the path to excellence.

Paul J. Hauptman, MD, has accepted the positions of Dean of the Graduate School of Medicine and Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer of The University of Tennessee Medical Center. Dr. Hauptman is slated to begin October 1.

Distinguished Physicians Recognized as Inductees to John W. "Jack" Lacey, III, MD Wall of Distinction

healingThe John W. "Jack" Lacey, III, MD, Wall of Distinction recognizes physicians, administrators and team members who contributed to the mission and vision of The University of Tennessee Medical Center and UT Graduate School of Medicine and help it achieve prominence in healthcare. The wall was named in honor of Dr. Lacey, who retired from the medical center in March 2016 following four decades of service. The 2018 honorees are

Joseph Acker, MD
Years of Service: 1956-1983

As one of the founding members of the first cardiology group in the region, University Cardiology/Knoxville CV Group, Dr. Acker was a pioneer in instituting changes in the care of cardiac patients and developing Knoxville's first Cardiac Rehabilitation Programs. Additionally, Dr. Acker served as Chief of Staff in 1961.

Edward Buonocore, MD
Years of Service: 1966-1979; 1984-2000

Dr. Buonocore was a visionary whose leadership led to the modernization and implementation of advanced technology in the Department of Radiology including developing the medical center's heart catheterization lab, installing MRI, and establishing a pioneer clinical facility for PET imaging and PET/CT.

William R. (Bill) Rice
Executive Vice Chancellor
Years of Service 1963-1993

As Executive Vice Chancellor from 1984-1993, Mr. Rice provided leadership to the medical center and was instrumental in the formalization of the UT Graduate School of Medicine in 1991. He continued his leadership as Chancellor of the UT Health Science Center from 1993-2002.

Jeanne Alley, RN
Nursing Director
Years of Service: 1964-1998

As a dedicated nursing leader with a drive for excellence, Ms. Alley held many pioneering roles. She participated in the development of the medical center's first heart catheterization laboratory and assisted with the first heart catheterization performed. She later helped develop the endoscopy laboratory which she directed for several years.

Marg Dietz
Years of Service: 1969-2016

Beginning in 1969, Ms. Dietz volunteered at the medical center for 48 years, totaling 7,756 hours of service. She spent most of her years of service working at the Information Desk where she was the calm and reassuring voice that was often a visitor's first impression. She is among the longest-serving members of the Auxiliary, serving twice as the president.