January 14, 2000

Wagers named chief financial officer of VUMC

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Rick Wagers has been named chief financial officer of VUMC. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Wagers named chief financial officer of VUMC

Vanderbilt University Medical Center's vast and complex financial operations have been turned over to a new, yet very familiar leader.

J. Richard Wagers Jr., M.B.A., a 22-year veteran of VUMC's balance sheets and checkbooks, has been named senior vice president and chief financial officer of the medical center.

Wagers, formerly vice president of Finance, succeeds George C. Forsyth, who retired last summer after 23 years.

Wagers' appointment is the latest element of a broad reorganization of VUMC's financial operations. Also last year, the Department of Financial Management was renamed the Department of Finance; and, following an extensive analysis, certain financial functions currently embedded in other operational areas of VUMC were transferred to Finance.

In his role as chief financial officer, Wagers will oversee all aspects of the medical center's fiscal integrity, including financial oversight of Vanderbilt University Hospital, Vanderbilt Medical Group and Clinic, the academic and research enterprise of the schools of Medicine and Nursing and the Vanderbilt Healthcare subsidiaries.

"Rick knows this medical center extremely well," said Dr. Harry R. Jacobson, vice chancellor for Health Affairs. "He has been involved in taking care of VUMC's finances for more than 20 years. His experience, leadership and insight will be invaluable as the institution works to meet the challenges of the future."

Creating a strong, yet flexible financial foundation is the key to facing those challenges, Wagers said. And doing that involves much more than just tallying the institution's debits and credits.

"It's hard to do just about anything around here that doesn't involve money," Wagers said. "That, in turn, means in some way the Department of Finance is involved in many facets of the entire business of the medical center. We wear a lot of different hats — from recorder to interpreter to executor."

Interpretation is critical. Money flows into and out of the medical center through an immense and complex system of revenue and expense streams. Monitoring and managing these streams generates mountains of data that, to be of any strategic use, must be analyzed.

"Data is data. Determining what it means is something else," Wagers said. "Keeping track of things, keeping the scorecard so to speak, is a big task, but there are a lot of systems in place to do it. More important is taking that basic data and converting it into information which can be used to support sound decision making.

"The university and the medical center have the goal to be among the top 10 institutions in the country, and to do that takes financial strength and the financial underpinnings to create a platform to support the growth necessary to achieve that goal.

"That is our goal for Finance and the reason we undertook the reorganization of the department over the past year — to put us on a new trajectory to support the medical center enterprise," Wagers said.

Wagers received his B.S. in accounting from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., in 1973 and his M.B.A. in finance from Middle Tennessee State University in 1984.

He came to Vanderbilt from Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie, Ind., in 1977 as assistant director of Financial Management.