In his first job, nine-year-old Spence Taylor delivered 60 newspapers every afternoon, earning $5 a month. Later, his family moved to Lexington, South Carolina, where, at 15, he worked at his father’s corrugated-box company. Now, he’s president of Greenville Health System.
Roll back to 1979, when Taylor graduated from Clemson. He later went on to the Medical University of South Carolina and the U.S. Air Force, which he left as a major after four years. In 1992, the Greenville native arrived at GHS. Six years later, he managed the hospital’s surgeons.
Natty in a navy bow tie and a monogrammed white dress shirt, Taylor is at once animated and humble, occasionally referring to himself in the second person— with a robust and charming smile. Today, he’s atop a $2.3 billion healthcare system with 14,000 employees and 1,100 physicians and providers. His list of accomplishments in the medical field is long, and includes titles like the founding Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Diversity for the USC School of Medicine Greenville. Still, he appears unhurried in his downtown office. He even makes time for surgery, to treat patients.
“DR. SPENCE TAYLOR HAS COMMIT TED MUCH OF HIS PROFESSIONAL CAREER TO DEVELOPING THE FUTURE HEALTHCARE WORKFORCE. HIS WORK TO CREATE THE UNIVERSIT Y OF SOUTH CAROLINA SCHOOL OF MEDICINE GREENVILLE HAS BENEFIT TED THE UPSTATE ECONOMICALLY AND ALLOWS OUR COMMUNITIES TO HAVE ACCESS TO INNOVATIVE CARE FOR GENERATIONS TO COME.”
—Mike Riordan, CEO for the Strategic Coordinating Organization for GHS
Taylor is the father of four with his wife of 37 years, Marie. He says he appreciates the Healthcare Transformation Award, as much for the personal acknowledgment as for the attention it brings to Greenville.
“This is a great honor,” he says. “You always love to be recognized for things you’ve done, but we didn’t do the medical school to get recognized. Marie and I don’t give financially to the health center to get recognized, but it’s fun to acknowledge that we contributed back to the community.”
He explains of the USC School of Medicine Greenville: “You’re contributing back to Greenville’s economic health. Academic centers usually, on average, contribute $2 billion to $3 billion in economic impact.”
That’s thanks in part to the influx of 400 medical and 200 nursing students, and, he says, “This thing is just starting.”
For Marguerite Wyche, member of GHS’s Board of Trustees, Taylor’s drive and focus make him a “homegrown hero.” “Leaders are agents of change, and they have the vision not only to see the need for the change but to coalesce support for it and implement support for it,” says Wyche, a realtor who has known Taylor for decades. “Spence’s vision, passion, knowledge, and leadership have really brought transformational healthcare to the Upstate.”
And Dr. Jerry Youkey, the award recipient in 2015, adds to the accolades: “Spence Taylor is well-known for frequently reminding the rest of us to think bigger.”
THE HEALTHCARE TRANSFORMATION AWARD HONORS OUTSTANDING INDIVIDUALS OR AN ORGANIZATION THAT ACTIVELY AND COMPASSIONATELY WORKS TO TRANSFORM THE HEALTH OF OUR COMMUNITY THROUGH CONTRIBUTIONS OF TIME, TALENT, AND TREASURE.