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Our Next Vice Chancellor for Communications

I am pleased to announce that Ryan Robinson will be the university’s next vice chancellor for communications.

The vice chancellor for communications is the university’s chief communications and marketing officer and advises the chancellor and senior leaders on communication-related matters. As vice chancellor, Ryan will oversee the Office of Communications and Marketing and WUOT-FM 91.9, the university’s public radio station.

Ryan has more than 20 years of public relations experience. He currently serves as the senior associate athletic director for communications in the Athletics Department and leads the media relations, internet communications, creative services, and broadcasting teams.

Prior to working in UT Athletics, Ryan served as director of public relations for the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, executive director of the PeyBack Foundation, and assistant director of public relations for the Indianapolis Colts.

Ryan is from Ashland, Kentucky. He earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kentucky.

I’d like to thank members of the search committee for conducting a national search and advising me throughout this process.

Please join me in welcoming Ryan to this important role.

2017 Memorial Service

Please join us for a special memorial service to remember the students, faculty, and staff we have lost in the last year.

The service will be held at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 5, in the UT Gardens on the Institute of Agriculture campus.

Every member of our Volunteer family is special to us. Many members of the campus community are affected when someone from the Volunteer family passes away.

This tradition provides us the opportunity to join family and friends to memorialize those we have lost. The outdoor event will feature a program and a reading of the names.

We hope that you will make plans to attend and encourage others to join you.

2017 Chancellor’s Honors Banquet

I recently had the pleasure of hosting my first Chancellor’s Honors Banquet. This annual tradition celebrates the hard work and accomplishments of our students, faculty, and staff.
We honored students who are leaders in—and outside—the classroom. We saluted faculty and staff who make a difference through their teaching, research, and service.
Students Natalie Bennett, Savannah Clay, Joshua Dobbs, Carson Hollingsworth, Elisabeth Logan, Monil Mehta, and Louis Varriano were named Torchbearers, our highest student honor.
Our top faculty award, the Macebearer, went to Michael Handelsman. A Distinguished Professor of Humanities, he teaches Spanish in the Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures. He is also director of the College of Arts and Sciences Global Studies program and faculty director of our Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships.
We honored Benjamin Blalock, the Blalock-Kennedy-Pierce Professor of Analog Electronics in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, with the Alexander Prize.
Michelle Brown, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology, received the Jefferson Prize for her prolific and groundbreaking research in the criminal justice field.
We presented Christopher Craig, a professor whose career in the Department of Classics spans nearly four decades, with the L. R. Hesler Award for exceptional teaching and service.
These are just a few of our honorees. I invite you to read about all of the award recipients in today’s Daily Beacon or on the Chancellor’s Honors Banquet website.
Thank you to everyone who submitted nominations, served on an awards committee, or helped to make this year’s banquet a memorable evening.
I am proud to be a part of this university and am so impressed by the people who make it such a special place to be.

Search for the Next Vice Chancellor for Development and Alumni Affairs Underway

The national search for the next vice chancellor for development and alumni affairs is under way. The Aspen Leadership Group, a search firm, is recruiting for the position with the intent of bringing candidates to campus in June.
The vice chancellor for development and alumni affairs is the university’s chief development and alumni officer for the Knoxville campus. View the position description. Chip Bryant has been serving as interim vice chancellor since August 2016 and will continue to serve until the position is filled.
Wayne Davis, dean of the Tickle College of Engineering, and Sharon Pryse, a UT trustee and UT Foundation board member, are co-chairing the search. The committee members are Dorothy Bryson, executive director of development in the Tickle College of Engineering; Chris Cimino, senior vice chancellor for finance and administration; Greg Hulen, associate athletics director for development; Victoria Niederhauser, dean of the College of Nursing; Bonnie Ownley, Faculty Senate president and professor and graduate director for the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology; Jeffrey Pappas, director of the School of Music; Lee Patouillet, associate vice chancellor of alumni affairs; Andrew Sheehy, executive director of development for the College of Arts and Sciences; and Lisa Taylor, chief financial officer for the UT Foundation.
To apply, visit the Aspen Leadership Group website. Nominations and expressions of interest may be sent to Angelique Grant at or Greg Duyck at

An Update on the Facilities Management Initiative

You may have seen an email earlier this afternoon from University of Tennessee System President Joe DiPietro regarding the state’s Facilities Management Initiative. The State of Tennessee’s Central Procurement Office released documents identifying the vendor(s) selected to identify potential cost savings for facilities management.

I have been engaged in conversations about this initiative since my on-campus interview in November, and I have been assured numerous times since then that my leadership team and I will be able to choose whether or not to opt in to the state contract based on what is best for our campus. System President DiPietro reiterated these assurances today.

The documents released today by the state procurement office include projected cost savings for our campus. These projected numbers are based on an initial review of our campus operations during the bidding process. Over the next few months, we will have an opportunity to work closely with representatives from the state’s vendor(s) in order to identify and verify their cost-savings analysis.

Once all the information is available and the data have been analyzed, which will likely be this summer, I will be conferring with my senior leadership team to make an informed decision about whether or not to opt in. My decision will be based solely on what is in the best interest of our campus and our employees.

Every single person who works here is central to our core mission. Our facilities and maintenance workers are essential to creating an environment in which we can successfully recruit, retain, and graduate students who thrive on our campus.

I want to thank our facilities workers—dedicated members of our campus community—who work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to make this a better place.

I will be sure to update you on this process as more information becomes available.

Search for the Next Vice Chancellor for Communications Underway

The national search for the next Vice Chancellor for Communications for our campus is now underway. UT Human Resources has started recruiting for the position with the intent of bringing candidates to campus in the coming weeks.

The Vice Chancellor for Communications is the university’s chief communications and marketing officer and advises the chancellor and senior leaders on communications-related matters. The position oversees the Office of Communications and Marketing and WUOT-FM 91.9, the university’s public radio station. View the entire position description.

Jacob Rudolph has been serving as interim vice chancellor since July and will continue to serve until the position is filled.

Chris Cimino, senior vice chancellor for finance and administration, is chairing the search. The committee members are: Kari Alldredge, vice provost for enrollment management; Frank Cuevas, assistant vice chancellor for Student Life; Joshua Cunningham, a graduate teaching assistant in the College of Communication and Information; Haylee Marshall, senior director of alumni affairs; Emily James, senior project manager in the Office of the Chancellor; Jacob Rudolph, interim vice chancellor for communications; and Candace White, professor of advertising and public relations.

To apply online, please visit the Human Resources website. Nominations and expressions of interest may also be sent to: Ashlie Czyz, Director of HR Programs and Executive Recruiter, 1331 Circle Park Drive, 105 Student Services Building, Knoxville, TN 37996,

See You on February 15

In less than a month, I will have the great honor of moving to Rocky Top to serve as your chancellor.

Leading Tennessee’s flagship university is an opportunity like no other, and I am counting the days until I am an official member of the Volunteer family.

Thank you to the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of the university who have reached out to offer congratulations and best wishes. I also appreciate Chancellor Cheek, President DiPietro, and the many people working to ensure a smooth and successful transition.

I came to campus earlier this week to make plans for my move. The few days I spent here were filled with interactions and inspirational moments that affirmed why the University of Tennessee is such a remarkable place. I met so many people full of pride for UT and excitement about its future. At every turn, I found history, tradition, optimism, and a warm smile welcoming me to the university and the Knoxville community.

Seeing a hard-fought Lady Vols victory over Notre Dame Monday was a highlight I will not soon forget. I was moved by our student-athletes’ tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. and by UT’s own historical milestones in realizing his dream.

I was honored to join the Volunteers who were recognized as firsts in their respective accomplishments, and I was humbled to stand at center court to pay tribute to the legendary Coach Pat Summitt. To be in the house where she led so many championship teams to victory is hard to put into words. What a welcome to Vol Nation!

My visit also provided an opportunity to get a closer look at new and soon-to-be-completed campus facilities. The Stokely Family Residence Hall makes a beautiful addition to campus and is an impressive living and learning space for students. It was also nice to see progress on the Student Union, Strong Hall, and the Mossman Building.

Seeing these large-scale projects drove home how much momentum there is for transforming the campus and enhancing all facets of the student experience. I look forward to exploring campus and all of its buildings and landmarks.

We have a lot to accomplish together, and I can’t wait to get started. I look forward to learning from you and working as a team on our shared goals in pursuit of excellence. Seeing the campus in action helped me understand ever more clearly the meaning of Big Orange. Big Ideas.

I will be back for good on February 15.

Until then, go Vols!

Beverly Davenport

Executive Order on Immigration

To the campus community:

The recent executive order on immigration has caused confusion and anxiety among many members of our Volunteer family.

As the state’s flagship research university, we have a responsibility to enhance our education and research mission. We are committed to protecting the rights and opportunities extended to all members of our academic community, and we will continue to recruit, retain, and support faculty, staff, and students from around the world.

I want to reassure everyone, especially our international students and scholars, that the university’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and civility remains as strong as ever.

Since Friday afternoon, the Center for International Education has been working diligently to understand the implications of the executive order. Over the weekend, CIE staff communicated directly with students, faculty, and staff who hold visas from the seven countries named in the executive order to offer guidance and support.

The university remains actively engaged in understanding the details of what is still a very fluid set of circumstances and will continue to support all members of our campus community.

If you have concerns about your individual travel plans or family members outside the country, international student and scholar advisors are available at the CIE offices, 1620 Melrose Avenue. There will be additional staff available there today for those with urgent concerns.

Students who need additional support may also reach out to the Office of the Dean of Students at 865-974-3179.

As members of the Volunteer family, we are guided by our campus’s principles of civility and community. I ask you to take this opportunity to reach out to your fellow Volunteers, especially those who may be feeling uncertain or fearful, and help ensure that our campus is a welcoming community for everyone.


Jimmy G. Cheek

A Time for Civility

Last night marked the end of a long presidential election process.

As is the case across the country, members of our campus community represent a variety of viewpoints and opinions. Whatever opinions we hold, we are all Volunteers.

I want to take this moment to share advice from the late UT alumnus Senator Howard Baker, who said, “Be civil, and encourage others to do likewise.”

We have a unique opportunity in the coming days, weeks, and months to embody the Volunteer spirit. I encourage each of us to lead by example and to engage our peers and colleagues, even those we disagree with, in respectful and constructive dialogue.

Continued Aggression Toward Our LGBTQ+ Community

This semester, the Bias Education and Response Team has received reports of four separate incidents at the Pride Center, including acts of vandalism and harassment. Additionally, other incidents of intimidation and violence have recently been directed at members of the LGBTQ+ community on our campus and in the local community.

These continued acts of aggression are unacceptable, and I am deeply troubled by the fact that any member of our community feels unsafe here. Our campus should be safe and welcoming for all of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors.

UTPD is actively investigating the two most recent vandalism incidents at the Pride Center. Many of you have expressed concern and frustration that those cases remain unsolved. I understand your frustration, and I expect these matters to be resolved.

Police investigators are confident that there are members of our campus community who know and can identify the two individuals involved. We need your help. If you have any information about either of these incidents, please contact UTPD at 865-974-3114 or Any information you provide will remain confidential.

We have made and will continue to make surveillance improvements around the Pride Center and elsewhere on campus to increase safety and security.

These improvements, however, will not solve hate and prejudice. We must work together as a community to create an environment where acts of bias are not tolerated.

As such, I invite you to submit ideas and propose solutions for how to improve and promote civility on our campus. All submissions will be provided to the Vol Vision 2020 Diversity and Inclusion Working Group to help guide their recommendations for how the university should address issues related to campus climate.

Our values and principles of civility are inclusive of everyone, regardless of family background, race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity and expression.

We’re all members of the Volunteer family. Let’s celebrate what makes each of us unique and help each other reach our greatest potential.

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