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Examining Our Academic Structures

Dear colleagues,

In April, we presented to the UT Knoxville Campus Advisory Board a bold new strategic vision that will guide us into the future as our state’s flagship land-grant institution. This draft of the new vision is the work of dozens of campus leaders, who sought extensive input from across the university.

The next step in the visioning process is to examine the current organization of our academic colleges to ensure that we have the best structure in place to support the goals in our draft strategic vision and carry us into the future.

Among the questions we want to ask are these: Do we have the right number of colleges, and if not, what is missing? Are we organized for innovation, agility, and collaboration across disciplines?

We have asked a working group to take a high-level look at our academic organization and consider how best to do the following in each of our colleges:

  1. Create a strong, coherent sense of identity, community, and focus through disciplinary alignment within the college that enhances a sense of belonging for students, faculty, and staff
  2. Foster intedisciplinary collaboration
  3. Allow for agility and effective self-governance in curriculum revision and program creation
  4. Enable greater college control over resource generation and allocation
  5. Empower the college to innovate in order to accomplish the five goals in the strategic vision

This working group, led by Interim College of Law Dean Doug Blaze and composed of 19 academic leaders from across campus, will be asked to provide a report by September 30. The report will examine whether our current structure best positions us for advancing our strategic goals in a rapidly changing educational landscape, provide possible alternatives that might better advance the goals of our strategic vision, and outline the strengths and weaknesses of those alternatives. The report will also offer recommendations for a campus engagement plan in the fall that includes a process for soliciting campus feedback.

We have asked this group to apply a critical eye to the infrastructure that already exists and a creative mindset to what possibilities could exist. This initiative is not being undertaken for budgetary reasons. The university has not had a comprehensive review of its academic organization in modern times, and it is our hope that this process will be embraced as an opportunity to reimagine how we serve our disciplines and our students.

Donde Plowman

John Zomchick
Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor