The Magazine Mogul

William S. Rukeyser  You could argue that journalism is in Bill Rukeyser’s blood. For many years, Bill’s father Merryle wrote seven newspaper columns per week for International News Service. Growing up with the sounds of his father’s constant clacking on the typewriter, it wasn’t long before he caught the bug. “I learned to type before I learned to write cursive,” he says. Growing up, Bill succeeded both of his brothers as a high school sports correspondent for a local newspaper in Rochelle, New York.

Upon his college graduation, he eagerly took a job as a foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, working out of the paper’s London office. For a young writer, the post was a dream, living abroad writing about the commodity market. However, an opportunity in New York would soon return him to the states.

Lured by the prospect of good money and his own office, Bill took a position as associate editor at Fortune magazine. From there, he moved to Money magazine for a time before returning to Fortune as managing editor. After launching the French version of Fortune, a new prospect presented itself in the form of Whittle Communications.

Hundreds of miles away from Bill’s office in Rockefeller Center, Chris Whittle was carving out a name for himself in the publishing world in Knoxville. After a lucrative offer, Bill left his metropolitan lifestyle for a position as editor-in-chief. Making the move in 1988, he quickly settled in to life down South. 

Now, mostly removed from the publishing world apart from editing books, Bill has moved on to a different post as chairman of the board of University Health Systems, the nonprofit organization that operates the UT Medical Center. During his tenure as chairman, he has been able to see the medical center grow by leaps and bounds to provide cutting edge care.

Bill credits much of this success with their focus on maintaining positive relationships with the doctors on staff. “We have an unusually collaborative relationship between administrators and physicians,” he says. “Nurturing and preserving that collaborative atmosphere is the basis of our work. It’s taken a lot of time to get to the level of cooperation we have and, like reputation, it can be lost quickly.”

As for the future, Bill is focused on remaining current in medical technology and continuing to recruit the best staff. By maintaining such high standards, UT Medical Center can continue to operate as one of the premier hospitals in the region for years to come.

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