“Doctor in Latin means ‘to teach.’ I believe we have an obligation to teach those who are coming up behind us the knowledge and lessons that we have learned—it enriches the future.”
Physician Executive MBA - Alumni
Physician Executive MBA - Alumni
Benito Alvarez’s story one could say started when his parents fled the Castro regime in Cuba. Born and raised in Mt. Vernon, New York, Alvarez witnessed the values of hard work and self-discipline through watching his parents work multiple jobs. While difficult, they never gave up hope and saw great success from their determination.
Inspired by their dedication, Benito Alvarez obtained a medical degree, law degree, and MBA, along with earning a Certified Physician Executive designation. He is also a Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and this year will be a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.
Alvarez graduated from the Physician Executive MBA during the program’s infancy in 2001. He was attracted to it because it had rapidly gained distinction in the industry. Doctors respected its ability to provide insights on the more practical aspects of the business of medicine.
“Little did I envision where PEMBA would take me,” Alvarez says. “After completing this program, the opportunities find you—you don't have to go looking. PEMBA taught me to think differently and gave me the tools necessary to navigate the business of medicine, as well as my personal life.”
One of these opportunities occurred when a PEMBA cohort classmate, Dr. Tim Stover, called Alvarez to come work at the Akron General Health System to serve in multiple executive roles. At Akron General, now part of the Cleveland Clinic Health System, Alvarez is President of the employed physician group and Senior VP of Physician Alignment; he is also responsible for recruitment and practice acquisitions. These opportunities, he states, would not have been possible without PEMBA.
Alvarez also enjoyed the student-centered focus exhibited by the faculty, staff and program content while he attended the University of Tennessee.
“The camaraderie is what I recall the most,” Alvarez says. “Good people, both students and faculty, looking to learn from each other. Our didactics were also very practical and grounded in reality.”
Some of the biggest lessons that Alvarez learned at UT were from the community-based approach that took place in the classroom.
“I recall Dr. Mike Stahl telling the story in class about a custodian sweeping the floor at a NASA facility in the early 60s who was asked, ‘What are you doing?’ to which he replied, ‘Helping put a man on the moon.’ Although sometimes difficult to make the connection, I ultimately help patients get the care they need. I work for them,” Alvarez says.
Inspired by experiences in his career, including time at the University of Tennessee, Alvarez wrote “Tomahawk Leadership, Physician Alignment Manual.”
“Doctor in Latin means ‘to teach.’ I believe we have an obligation to teach those who are coming up behind us the knowledge and lessons that we have learned—it enriches the future,” he says.
Mike & Pam Koban
Mike and Pam have supported education through their generosity to the Haslam College of Business.
“I feel a responsibility and a duty to ensure that our students are competitive for the best jobs on the market.”