Gene E. Burleson '64, '72
1997 Outstanding Alumnus
Gene Burleson has taken his education along with his experiences in
health care across the globe to reach the heights of the industry. Over a
period of more than 20 years, he has built one of the most impressive
credentials in health care management possible. Today, Gene has a dual
role with two corporations; one he created, and the other in which he
engineered a merger. Gene Burleson is chief executive officer of
Vitalink Pharmacy Services, Inc. Through its 54 pharmacy locations in 29
states, Vitalink provides pharmacy services to nursing facilities.
Vitalink serves 166,000 beds, or approximately 10 percent of total
skilled nursing facility beds in the United States. His other "job" is
as chairman of the board of directors of GranCare, Inc. Both
corporations are headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.Over the past five
years, Mr. Burleson has executed an aggressive growth plan that has
moved GranCare to the position of sixth largest publicly traded
long-term health care provider in the nation with revenues approaching
$1 billion. GranCare was created through a merger with American Medical
Services and HostMasters, Inc., both providers of health care services.
Mr. Burleson served as president and director of GranCare from October
1989 through December 1990, when he was named chief executive officer.
He assumed the additional post of chairman of the board in January 1994.
In addition, he is currently serving on the Boards of Vitalink, Inc.,
Alternative Living Services, Inc., Deckers Outdoor Corporation, Walnut
Financial Services, Inc., and EquiMed, Inc.
Before joining GranCare, Mr. Burleson served in
progressively responsible positions within the domestic and
international operations of American Medical International (A.M.I.).
Beginning in 1974, his domestic responsibilities included management of
A.M.I.'s acute care hospitals, psychiatric facilities, H.M.O.s
day-surgery centers, free-standing diagnosis centers and retail pharmacy
centers. In 1981 Gene was named Director of A.M.I.'s operations in the
United Kingdom and became the Chief Executive Officer for the European
region in 1983. During his tenure, facilities expanded rapidly and
revenues increased from $5 million to $185 million, positioning A.M.I.
as the dominant provider of health care in the United Kingdom and
leading to a successful public offering of the company.
When he returned to the U.S. in 1986, he continued his
role as Chief Operating Officer and was elected president of American
Medical International's worldwide operations. His primary
responsibilities included field operations, marketing, legal, finance,
systems development and human resources. His areas of responsibility
were acute care hospitals, psychiatric facilities and related health
services in Great Britain, Spain, Switzerland, Greece and Singapore.
Mr. Burleson graduated from ETSU with a bachelor of
science degree in accounting in 1964 and earned an M.B.A. in 1972. Gene
continued his relationship with ETSU as a benefactor through the
President's Trust, the Committee of 1000, and Challenge 2000. He also
has served as an ETSU Foundation member and has volunteered with
projects like the Buc Connection career development network and
represented ETSU as an Alumni Ambassador.
Originally from North Carolina, Mr. Burleson now resides
in Atlanta with his wife, Jan, and their children, Ashley and Alan. His
son Jeff graduated from ETSU in 1994 with a bachelor of science in
finance and in 1996 with a masters in business administration. Jeff
lives in Atlanta and is employed at GranCare. His daughter, Lisa,
graduated from Samford University in 1989 with a bachelor of science in
psychology, and in 1992 with a masters in elementary education. Lisa
lives in Birmingham, Alabama, and teaches at North Birmingham