Business buzzwords in the past few years often include the phrase “sense of purpose” and “purpose-driven” as a way to explain the millennial workforce.
Bruce Hartmann, vice president of community and government relations at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, isn’t a millennial. Matter of fact, he has millennial children, and he’s a grandfather. He is driven by that sense of purpose, however, not only in his career, but also in his commitment to the Knoxville community.
Hartmann took over the role as UT Medical Center VP in May 2017 following more than 25 years in the media business. Coming to Knoxville in 1990 as advertising director of the News Sentinel, he worked his way up to general manager and then, in 1998, publisher. As the Scripps media landscape began to change, Hartmann took on the role of group publisher, responsible for several Scripps papers in the Southeastern region. In 2011, Hartmann took an even larger jump in corporate leadership when he was named vice president and chief revenue officer for all sales and marketing activities across 13 Scripps markets.
He retired from Scripps in 2014 and spent his last two-and-a-half years in media as president of the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Calling his new responsibilities at UT Medical Center a “second career,” Hartmann admits he has seen a changing landscape in his “first career” in the media world.
“Media, and especially print media, has been through changes that have altered the industry landscape,” says Hartmann. “The healthcare industry is also in a time of change, and I am honored to be part of a strong team at UT that is focused on managing that change in a way that will be good for the hospital and the community. There is important work to be done. I am just a small blip on that radar, but I am here to help.”
The purpose-driven dual goals of what is good for business and good for the community are never far from Hartmann’s mind. In business, he was at the Sentinel’s helm when Scripps invested $50 million to build a new building and state-of-the-art press in Knoxville. He oversaw the transition into that new building and, later, the consolidation of Scripps management teams. He got behind and helped grow News Sentinel community activities, such as the Empty Stocking Fund and the Knoxville Open.
He also took on community leadership roles outside the News Sentinel. He served on numerous civic and cultural boards, was president of the Knoxville Chamber board and campaign chair for United Way of Greater Knoxville.
One of his first introductions to the inner workings of UT Medical Center was as a volunteer, says Hartmann, when he was part of the fundraising efforts to build a new cancer center. In this new position, Hartmann also has the mandate to cultivate relationships and community partnerships to benefit the community and the medical center.
“I always knew I wanted to come back to Knoxville and hoped to retire here,” says Hartmann. “I was ready to come back – it’s all about the grandchildren, you know! – but wasn’t ready to stop working. UT has given me the opportunity to come back to a community that I have a lot of passion for and that I care a lot about and still work for something that has a purpose. I am grateful and excited.”
Two of Hartmann’s largest community endeavors involved entities that inspire a lot of passion for a lot of people. He served as president of the Historic Tennessee Theatre Foundation board and led the $23.5 million campaign to restore the Tennessee Theatre.
“It was a great day when the theatre reopened in 2005,” says Hartmann. “And we were able to lay the foundation needed to keep the theatre moving forward by making sure the debt was all paid off in 10 years and hiring Ashley Capps and AC Entertainment to run the theatre. I learned during the days of the campaign that success wasn’t just about restoring the theatre to its glory, but about ‘cheeks in the seats’ to keep it solvent.”
Recently, Hartmann co-chaired the $25 million cathedral campaign at Sacred Heart Cathedral, the first “ground-up” cathedral built by the Knoxville diocese.
“Both of those projects evoke a lot of emotion in the community,” says Hartmann. “People love their church, and they have such passion and such memories of the Tennessee Theatre. Hearing those stories of first dates, family outings and weddings kept the intensity going during the campaigns.”
Even with such big projects under his belt, Hartmann insists that he has only done what “50 others in this community have also done.”
“If I am a leader, it’s because we have a culture of leadership here where people lead by example,” says Hartmann. “I can’t start naming people because I will leave out too many, but I have many, many mentors who have always made me realize how fortunate I am to live here in this community. Mr. (Jim) Haslam always says, ‘You live here, you gotta pay the rent.’ He does that, and he leads by example. I just try to do that, too, as best I can.”
Hartmann is married to Tami Hartmann, and they have three grown children and three grandchildren.