BHSU President Betty Sue McGarvey to Retire After Decades of Service

Baptist Health Sciences University President Betty Sue McGarvey, PhD, RN, recently announced her plans to retire in the summer of 2023. She has led the university since 2005, overseeing the expansion of degree programs, the transition to Baptist Health Sciences University in 2020 and the awarding of candidacy status for the university’s proposed College of Osteopathic Medicine. She was also a part of the planning committee that worked on the earlier transition to Baptist College of Health Sciences in 1994. Dr. McGarvey’s 48-year relationship with Baptist began when she was a student at the then Baptist Memorial School of Nursing.

She received her nursing diploma in 1978 and went on to serve Baptist Memorial Health Care as a trauma nurse coordinator, a nurse in the Emergency Department and in the Coronary Care Unit. In 1985, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Memphis State University (now University of Memphis).

Dr. McGarvey earned additional degrees during her tenure at Baptist, including a Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Tennessee, Center for Health Sciences in 1990 and a Doctorate in Philosophy of Nursing from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2002. In 1993, Dr. McGarvey moved to full-time teaching at the Baptist Memorial School of Nursing.

“It has been an honor to work alongside Dr. McGarvey,” said Zach Chandler, executive vice president and chief strategy officer of Baptist Memorial Health Care. “Her visionary leadership is demonstrated in the university’s transition in 2020, offering graduate- and doctorate-level degrees, not to mention the proposed College of Osteopathic Medicine that we hope to open in 2024. We’ve relied on BHSU to educate health care providers of our communities for more than a century, almost a quarter of that under the presidential leadership of Dr. McGarvey.”

Baptist Memorial Health Care has had five leaders in its 110-year history, and Dr. McGarvey has worked or studied under four of them — Dr. Frank Groner, who served as president and CEO from 1946–1980; Joseph Powell, who led the system from 1980–1994; Stephen C. Reynolds, who served as president and CEO from 1994–2014; and Jason Little, who has led Baptist Memorial Health Care since 2014. The university expanded its footprint in both student recruitment and clinical education opportunities as Baptist Memorial Health Care grew to include 22 hospitals across Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas.

Dr. McGarvey is thankful for the leaders who have supported her over the years. “I am forever grateful for their ability to lead while never losing sight of the Baptist mission of healing, preaching and teaching,” she said. “Baptist has been a wonderful place to work and grow.”

She has served on numerous community or professional boards, including Leadership Memphis, the Memphis Medical District Collaborative, Tennessee Baccalaureate Education System Trust (BEST), Tennessee Independent Colleges & Universities Association, Memphis Downtown Rotary Club, Rotary International, Tennessee Center for Health Workforce Development and Memphis Medical Center/U3 Development.

Now, Dr. McGarvey plans to enjoy her retirement, traveling and spending time with her husband and family.

“The years have flown by; I look back and think ‘how did that happen?’” she said. “But I will be a Baptist Blue Healer for life!”