Wayne Riley

Clinical Professor of Internal Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Adjunct Professor of Healthcare Management, Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University

Wayne Joseph Riley served from January 1, 2007 to June 30, 2013 as the 10th President and Chief Executive Officer of historic Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee the nation’s largest, private, independent, historically black academic health center dedicated to educating health professionals.  Founded in 1876, Meharry Medical College is nationally ranked as #2 in the “social mission” of American medical education as is comprised of Schools of Medicine, Dentistry and Graduate Studies and Research with 980 students, 350 faculty, 1,000 employees and an annual budget of approximately $150 million. Previously, he served as Vice-President and Vice Dean for Health Affairs and Governmental Relations and Associate Professor of Internal Medicine at the renowned -- and highly ranked by U.S. News and World Report -- Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) in Houston, Texas.  He joined the prestigious faculty there after completing residency training at Baylor’s highly regarded internal medicine residency training program.

Meharry Medical College Progress

Under Dr. Riley’s transformational leadership during his tenure, Meharry Medical College made significant strides in securing philanthropic support, receiving increased National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding, enhanced clinical and academic programs, increased national reputation and broadened community and civic engagement. Notable achievements include: reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the American Dental Education Association; the first ever accreditation for the Master’s degree program in Public Health by the Council for Education for Public Health (CEPH); receipt of an $18 million gift from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (including a one-time, $9 million gift to the endowment making it the largest endowment gift in the College’s history) to establish the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at Meharry, the establishment of three U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs outpatient clinics, including the first-ever VA Primary Care Clinic on the campus of a historically black academic health science center, a specialized Women Veterans Health Clinic, a partnership with Vanderbilt University Medical Center to secure and participate in NIH’s premier Clinical Translational Research Center (CTSA) grant award; a $21 million NIH award to establish the Meharry Translational Research Center (MeTRC); completion of a $4.2 million dollar renovation of the Meharry Biomedical Sciences Library; and multiple other capital improvements to enhance the teaching and learning environment.  He has also recruited new deans of the schools of medicine and dentistry as well as other senior executives to aid his transformation efforts at this “national treasure”.  He is also initiated an aggressive $70 million dollar campus infrastructure enhancement program which includes the first new construction on the Meharry campus since 1977. New facilities completed include: a 100,000 square foot campus center, restoration of the historic Hulda Lyttle Hall as the college's new administration building, 200 units of new campus housing and new study, laboratory,  student life and study amenities that will serve the Meharry and Nashville communities in the years to come.  During his tenure, Meharry's endowment grew from $73 million to in excess of $140 million.  Also, an impressive $72 million in private gifts/donations was raised from donors, foundations and alumni. Meharry's fundraising and development effectiveness during his presidency was recognized by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Higher Education (CASE) with a 2013 Circle of Excellence Award.


Dr. Riley earned the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in anthropology (concentration in Medical Anthropology) from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut; the Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) degree in health systems management from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans; and the Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree from the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. While at Morehouse, he was active in numerous student organizations and served several student leadership positions including Class President, President of the Student Government Association and President of his graduating class. For his exemplary service and leadership, Dr. Riley was awarded the Louis W. Sullivan, M.D. Leadership Award named in honor of his mentor who served as President of Morehouse School of Medicine during his time as a student and our nation as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

In May 2002, he earned the Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degree from Rice University’s Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business MBA for Executives program.   

Certification & Licensure

Dr. Riley is a Diplomate of both the American Board of Internal Medicine and the National Board of Medical Examiners and is licensed to practice medicine in the states of Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana and Georgia.

Academic Medicine, Health Care Management & Policy

Dr. Riley’s broad range of experience encompasses academic medicine, primary care, public health, health care management and policy, academic health science center administration and government.  At Baylor College of Medicine, he served as Assistant Dean for Education (2000-2004); co-chaired BCM’s 2003 Education Mission Strategic Planning Task Force; was Oversight Director of the BCM pre-clinical curriculum; held memberships on Baylor College of Medicine Admissions, Internal Medicine Intern Selection, Primary Care Internal Medicine and Medical Student Core Clerkship committees; and chaired the Teaching of Anatomy Task Force. Dr. Riley also was Assistant Director of the Baylor Internal Medicine Consultants (BIMC) General Internal Medicine Teaching Service at the Houston Methodist Hospital and Director of the Baylor Travel Medicine Service. For his achievements and excellence in teaching, he was received the BCM Fulbright & Jaworski for Award for Teaching Excellence and was inducted into the BCM Academy of Distinguished Educators.

At the 500-bed Ben Taub General Hospital – Houston and Harris County’s public safety net facility serving the indigent and uninsured and Baylor’s primary public hospital teaching affiliate -- he served as Assistant Chief of Medicine and was a practicing academic general internist where he engaged in the clinical practice of general internal medicine and taught and handled ward-attending responsibilities for BCM’s internal medicine house staff and medical students. He assisted the Chief of Medicine in coordinating clinical affairs, faculty productivity and professional fee billing program as well as the general management oversight of the 150-bed Medicine Service. In May 2004 he received the Ben Taub General Hospital “Physician of the Year” Award “in recognition of his outstanding professional achievements and dedication to employee-physician relationships through the delivery of patient-centered care.”  He also was selected by his peers to serve as Vice-Chair and then Chair of the Harris County Hospital District Medical Board, the medical executive committee, representing over 350 attending and staff physicians for the Hospital district’s two acute care hospitals and network of 10 community based ambulatory care centers.

Dr. Riley was a member of the medical staff, an attending physician and member of the “Dean’s Committee” at the Michael E. DeBakey Veteran Affairs Medical Center and held medical staff appointments at Houston Methodist Hospital and St. Luke’s’ Episcopal Hospital. In addition to his ambulatory general internal medicine practice at the Ben Taub General Hospital Internal Medicine Clinic he practiced at the Baylor Clinic, BCM’s 80,000 square foot adult ambulatory care center.

In May 2004, the Baylor College of Medicine Board of Trustees confirmed Dr. Riley’s appointment to the newly-created position of Vice President and Vice Dean for Health Affairs and Governmental Relations, becoming one of three physicians on BCM’s seven-member senior management team. As leader of the Office of Health Affairs and Governmental Relations (staff of eight; budget of $1.5 million), Dr. Riley oversaw external affairs; multiple hospital, academic, university and community affiliations; coordinated the college’s local, state and federal governmental relations and initiatives; handled international affairs; spearheaded the development of BCM’s M.D. /J.D. joint degree program with the University of Houston Law Center and established a new Office of Diversity. He was the first African-American corporate officer in the college’s 100 plus year history and reported directly to the president and chief executive officer.

In addition to his academic and leadership appointments at Baylor, Dr. Riley previously served as an Adjunct Professor of Management and Executive Education at the Jesse H. Jones School of Business, Rice University where he was the founding program Director and then Co-Director of the Baylor College of Medicine/Jones School of Business Certificate Program in Health Care Management. His teaching responsibilities at Rice included: The Physician as Leader and Manager, Leadership in Healthcare, Change Management and Introductory modules in the history and organization of the U.S. Health Care System for emerging physician executives and others with increasing management and policy responsibilities in healthcare organizations.

Professional Memberships and Associations

In April 2009, Dr. Riley became a member of the Board of Regents and was awarded Mastership in the American College of Physicians—the nations’ largest medical specialty organization representing the field of internal medicine and its various subspecialties. Election to Mastership is among the highest honors a physician can receive which recognizes outstanding and extraordinary career accomplishments. Masters must have made notable contributions to American medicine.  Of the ACP’s 135,000 plus members worldwide, there are only approximately 700 members who have achieved the designation of Master, and of that number no more than 50 African American physicians have ever been elected to Mastership since the award’s inception in 1924.  As an active member of the ACP since joining the organization during internal medicine residency training, Dr. Riley was elected in 1996 to the ACP National Council of Associates and served as the first Vice Chair of this national committee focused on representing Internal Medicine Residents in training.  In 2004, Dr. Riley was elected President of the Texas Academy of Internal Medicine for the Texas chapter of the ACP after successfully serving three terms as Secretary/treasurer. In 2005, Dr. Riley was elected the Governor of the Texas Southern Region of the ACP.  As such, Dr. Riley became only the fourth African American Governor of the ACP from a non-federal jurisdiction in the history of the organization.  In October of 2013, Dr. Riley was nominated to serve as President-Elect of the ACP and will assume the presidency in April of 2015 during the 100th anniversary of the College’s founding.

In the fall of 2010, Dr. Riley was elected to membership in the prestigious Society of Medical Administrators.  Formed in 1909 as the Medical Superintendents Club, a small group who met annually in New York City to discuss hospital administration – membership was originally limited to 25 individuals, but today has only 50 physician members who hold the senior most management and leadership responsibilities at major health related institutions, corporations, organizations and academic health science centers.  In April of 2010, Dr. Riley was elected to serve as Chairman of the Board of the Association of Minority Health Professions Schools – a consortium of twelve of the nation’s historically black medical, dental, pharmacy, veterinary medicine and academic health science centers. He was also elected to membership in the prestigious American Clinical and Climatological Association (ACCA) an organization founded in the 1890's composed of the nation's premier physicians and researchers. He is also a member of the American Medical Association, the National Medical Association, the Nashville Academy of Medicine and the American College of Physician Executives.

Honorary Degrees and Commencement Addresses

Dr. Riley has been awarded two honorary degrees: in August 2013 he was awarded the Doctor of Science (D.Sc.), Honoris Causa from Tuskegee University and served as the summer commencement speaker. In May of 2008 Dr. Riley delivered the Commencement Address and was awarded the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters (D.H.L.) from the State University of New York (SUNY) Brooklyn Downstate Medical Center in recognition of is exemplary career in academic medicine, healthcare management and leadership in American medicine. He has also delivered commencement addresses at the Michael E. DeBakey High School for the Health Professions, Houston, Texas, Southern University at New Orleans and Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Honorary Societies, Awards, Speaking Engagements, Congressional Testimony, Advocacy, Government Service and Leadership Activities

Dr. Riley is a frequent invited speaker on leadership and management in healthcare, medical education, academic medicine, biomedical research, health disparities and access to medical and primary care has been appointed to visiting professorships and to lectured at numerous prominent institutions including: Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Temple University School of Medicine, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Tulane University School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine, University of Vermont School of Medicine and Yale University. He has delivered the keynote addresses at the opening session of the American College of Physicians, the Gordon Petersen Lecture at the Society of General Internal Medicine, the Helen & Payne Whitney Lecture at Long Island Jewish Medical Center and the Levi Watkins, M.D. Lecture at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. In August 2009, he served as the keynote speaker at the Founding Convocation and first ever White Coat Ceremony at the University of Botswana, School of Medicine, Gaborone, Botswana.

He is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, Delta Omega Public Health Honor Society and was inducted into the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Medical Humanism Society in recognition of demonstrated excellence in clinical care, leadership and dedication to service.

A passionate advocate for access to higher education and the health professions, he was appointed in 1998 by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to serve on the National Advisory Council on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) which he chaired from 2010-2012. In 2012, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins appointed Dr. Riley to serve on the “Blue Ribbon Panel on Diversity in the biomedical science workforce to guide the nation’s and NIH’s work on issues of health inequity in biomedical research and health services. He has also met with and advised the Obama-Biden Transition Team on health care reform. In October 2009, Dr. Riley was one of only 150 physicians invited to the White House for a Health Care Reform event hosted by President Barack H. Obama. In addition, he has met with numerous congressional staffs including those of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, Senate Health Education and Pension Chairman Tom Harkin and U.S. House of Representatives members Henry Waxman and Charles Rangel, then Chairs respectively of the Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees on health reform. In May 2010, Dr. Riley testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Health, Education, Labor and related agencies and called for increased federal biomedical research funding and on programs to address minority health, the health professions schools and health disparity research.

In 2011, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki appointed him to the 12 member first ever National VA Academic Affiliations Council to advise the VA on its important mission of health professions education in order to provide the best possible medical, nursing, mental health and other care to those cherished Americans who have served our country. In the fall of 2009, Dr. Riley was appointed to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s Labor, Education and Healthcare Advisory Council and served as a Branch Bank Director of the Nashville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in the early part of 2013.

His most recent honor in 2012, election to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences is among the most prestigious honors that can be attained in the fields of medicine and science which recognizes professional achievement and demonstrated interest, concern and involvement with problems and critical issues that affect the health of the public.

Other notable awards and recognitions include the Ailanthous Award for Outstanding Public Health Leadership from the SUNY Brooklyn Downstate Medical Center, the Nashville Business Journal’s “Most Admired CEOs” Award, the Nashville Business Journal “Healthcare Hero Award” and the Tennessee Tribune’s “Tennessean of the Year” Award.

Current Professional Activities

In addition to serving as President Elect of the American College of Physicians, he holds faculty appointments as a Clinical Professor of Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and Adjunct Professor of Healthcare Management at the Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management where he is fulfilling the role of healthcare “Executive-In-Residence”. He teaches, mentors and advises students pursuing degrees in the Master in Medical Management (MMM), healthcare MBA and the M.D. /MBA degree programs and serves as an advisor to early and mid-career healthcare executives. His work at the Institute of Medicine (IOM) includes serving as a member of the Membership Committee, Vice Chair, Section on the Administration of Health Services, Education and Research, Member, Subject Area Emphasis Development Task Force and Chair, Drug Delivery and Discovery Membership Subcommittee.

Personal Background and Civic Engagement

Dr. Riley is a proud native of New Orleans, Louisiana and prior to pursuing a career in Medicine, Dr. Riley served for five years (1981-1986) in three significant management and policy capacities as a mayoral appointee and close aide and confidant to New Orleans’ late legendary Mayor Ernest N. “Dutch” Morial, rising at the age of 26 to be Executive Assistant to the Mayor for Intergovernmental Relations, the youngest in the city’s history. His areas of responsibility included oversight of the city’s legislative and congressional relations, public affairs, international and university relations, interactions with the National League of Cities, U.S. Conference of Mayors, Democratic National Committee, Democratic Leadership Council, NAACP, Privatization Council and numerous municipal governmental and public policy organizations.  In the final days of Mayor Morial’s term of office, he coordinated transition activities as Director of Mayoral transition.

Since arriving in Nashville, Dr. Riley has become actively involved in several community service organizations.  He has served as a Director of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, Nashville Symphony, American Cancer Society, Center for Non Profit Management, United Way of Metropolitan Nashville, Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum Board of Trust; the Executive Board of Directors of the Middle Tennessee Council Boy Scouts of America and the Tennessee Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.  In addition, Dr. Riley is a member of the Rotary Club of Nashville and the Action on Nashville Steering Committee. 

Dr. Riley is married to Charlene M. Dewey, M.D., M.Ed., FACP, Assistant Dean for Educator Development, Office of Health Sciences Education, Associate Professor of Medical Education and Internal Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and  Co-Director, Center for Professional Health, Vanderbilt University Medical Center. They are the proud parents of two daughters: 16-year-old Erin Elizabeth Riley and 12-year-old Alexis Camille Riley. Since arriving in Nashville, Dr. Riley has become actively involved in several community service organizations. He is a former Director of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, Nashville Symphony Association, Tennessee Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, American Cancer Society, Center for Non Profit Management, United Way of Metropolitan Nashville, Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum Board of Trust; the Executive Board of Directors of the Middle Tennessee Council Boy Scouts of America. Dr.Riley is a member of the Rotary Club of Nashville and the Action on Nashville Steering Committee, a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and a member of Chi Chapter of the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity.

Dr. Riley spends his leisure time listening to jazz (Duke Ellington, Ahmad Jamal, Count Basie, John Coltrane, Wynton and Branford Marsalis); playing golf; watching spectator sports; reading non-fiction literature, particularly biographies and leadership monographs; engaging in community service and mentoring and spending time with his family. The Riley’s reside in the Nashville community of Forest Hills.

American College of Physicians

Clinical Professor of Internal Medicine
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

Adjunct Professor of Healthcare Management
Owen Graduate School of Management
Vanderbilt University

Former 10th President & Chief Executive Officer
Professor of Internal Medicine
Senior Health Policy Associate
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy
Meharry Medical College

Member, Institute of Medicine (IOM)
 of the
National Academy of Sciences

Vice Chair, Administration of Health Services, Education & Research Section
Institute of Medicine (IOM)
Society of Medical Administrators

Member, Board of Regents
American College of Physicians

Former Member, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
National Academic Affiliations Council

Immediate Past Chair, National Advisory Council on Minority Health & Health Disparities
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Immediate Past Chair, Board of Directors
Association of Minority Health Professions Schools

Director, HCA Holdings, Inc.

Director, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc.