University of Tennessee

Brotherly Love: Lee Brothers Graduate Together from Two UT Executive-Level MBA Programs

December 22, 2013

Buddy and Richard Lee walked across the stage last December to receive their well-earned diplomas; Buddy first and then Richard. They both added MBA to the end of their names: Buddy (Lloyd Dewey Lee Jr.) earned his MBA from the UT Executive MBA for Strategic Leadership program and Richard Lee, MD, from the UT Physician Executive MBA program.

Richard is a senior medical oncologist/hematologist at Tennessee Cancer Specialists in Knoxville and former chief of staff and board member of Baptist Hospital of East Tennessee. He enrolled in the UT Physician Executive MBA program after years of contemplation, simultaneously learning that his brother, Buddy, was also thinking of enrolling into another UT College of Business Administration MBA program for the 2013 academic year.

“Physicians typically undergo no formal business education in the course of their training,” says Richard, “but understanding the business of healthcare is becoming more critical in today’s healthcare environment.” His administrative experiences within the Baptist Hospital system steeled his resolve to learn as much as possible about healthcare management. “I chose the UT program because it is considered the premier physician MBA program in the country. I found the intensive curriculum to be incredibly relevant and was able to incorporate what I learned into my practice in real-time.”

While enrolled in the one-year program, Richard maintained his 60-hour workweek as an oncologist/hematologist in the Morristown and Harrogate (TN) communities and continued to teach medical students as an adjunct faculty member at the DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine at Harrogate’s Lincoln Memorial University.

“Participation in the program was the single best professional event of my life, every bit as important to me as medical school, residency, and fellowship training. My only regret is that I did not pursue the course of study many years ago,” continues Richard.

Buddy’s MBA path was longer; he originally enrolled in the UT MBA program in 1987, 25 years prior to entering the executive-level MBA program. “1987 was years before the use of the Internet, so there were no distance-learning classes available. My 70-percent-travel sales position did not mix well with required Wednesday evening classes, so I had to withdraw from the program second semester,” says Buddy. “However, I did not know that my not-so-stellar grades would reside on my transcript forever. I had to appeal for acceptance into the UT executive MBA program and had to keep my grades up to remain in the program. So, this time around, I was intensely focused on academic achievement.”

“The theme for the Executive MBA for Strategic Leadership program was transformational change, which is about personal and professional improvement,” says Buddy. “I can truly say that my interaction with the faculty and other students forced me to think and perform at a level that I never would have achieved on my own.”

The Lee Brothers grew up in South Knoxville and graduated from South-Young High School, Buddy in 1978 and Richard in 1980.  Buddy earned two undergraduate degrees, one in music from Carson-Newman and a second in electrical engineering from UT.  Richard received his undergraduate degree in microbiology and biochemistry from UT, a medical degree from UT Memphis, and was trained in internal medicine at the University of Alabama-Birmingham and in hematology/medical oncology at the University of Florida.

Buddy is a senior account manager with Industrial Information Resources in Sugarland, Texas, and co-founder of the Greater East Tennessee chapter of the Society of Maintenance and Reliability Professionals. His company sponsored a large part of Buddy’s program-long Organizational Action Project in which he designed and will continue to execute a program that correlates industrial reliability programs with increased safety levels in large manufacturing plants.

Richard will continue his practice and teaching schedule and pursue additional graduate studies at the University of Florida in pharmaceutical policy, regulation, and public health and at the University of South Florida in healthcare informatics.