Did You Know? James Cuthbertson, Second President and CEO of THI

In 1989, James Cuthbertson succeeded Texas Heart Institute’s first President and CEO, Gerald Maley. Cuthbertson was born in Scotland but spent many years in Ohio, first at Kent State University and then at Case Western Reserve University, where he earned his bachelor’s and MBA degrees. During his college years, Cuthbertson also served in the US Army as an infantry company commander in Vietnam, earning several honors, including the Silver Star, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and Purple Heart. He then spent 13 years with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and became Chief Operating Officer of Cleveland Clinic Florida, spearheading the expansion to the new Florida site in 1988.

As President and CEO of THI, Cuthbertson was responsible for many important decisions and negotiations. He was involved in development activities and met with various celebrities and international dignitaries. However, Cuthbertson’s chief focus was THI’s employees, because he recognized the importance of good employees to an organization. For several years, he wrote “President’s Corner,” a regular feature of the Heart Talk newsletter for Professional Staff and employees. He wrote in one President’s Corner, “Surrounded as we are by such incredible advances in medicine – heart transplants, artificial assist devices, new genetically-engineered therapies – it is often easy to lose sight of the engine that makes it all go: the community of people who make up the Texas Heart institute…There is no achievement of the Texas Heart Institute that would be possible without this contribution of human energy.” Cuthbertson also initiated a biannual President’s Service Award to recognize employee excellence. The first President’s Service Award went to Reinaldo Mendez, preclinical research laboratory manager, in February 1991.

Cuthbertson oversaw the initial planning stages and negotiations for the location of a free-standing home for the Institute. The building, which was only architectural drawings during the early 1990s, was completed in 2002, and THI still occupies that space today. Although Cuthbertson’s energy was required in many areas, staff remained central to his thoughts. He wrote at the time, “The creation of this wonderful home for the Institute will be rendered moot if we do not provide the programs and services necessary to sustain this facility. And as we consider these programs and services, we must be mindful of the ever-changing dynamics of the health care environment and position the Institute for flexibility and growth.”

After leaving THI and Houston in late 1995, Cuthbertson remained in health care and education, assuming roles at American Cardiac Care, Inc, and Aegis Health Partners, LLC, and later serving as a member of the Virginia Community College State Board. He is currently active with the Military Order of the Purple Heart and as a board member of the Joint Leadership Council of Veteran Services Organizations.

Featured photo, above: James Cuthbertson, Dr. James T. Willerson, and Dr. Denton A. Cooley share a moment at a 1993 Board Meeting.

Photo below: James Cuthbertson honors Rebecca Teaff with the President’s Service Award in 1992 (also pictured, Debra Keuhler [far left] and Marianne Mallia [center left]).