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Reception Honoring John Zomchick

Please join me for a reception honoring John Zomchick’s service as interim provost and senior vice chancellor and recognizing the achievements of our academic community.

Monday, June 11
4–6 p.m.
Hodges Library Galleria First Floor


We Are Resilient

This is an important week on our campus as we gather to honor our students and their accomplishments. I know that for many of you, this is also a difficult time. A change in leadership is never easy. I want you to know how committed I am to supporting you and providing stability to our university through this transition. I also want to thank Dr. Davenport for her service to the University of Tennessee.

UT Knoxville is a dynamic and innovative institution. Our research is growing, our campus is expanding, and our students are being nationally recognized. We have made great strides in recent years, and I look forward to building on this momentum as we continue to propel our university forward.

Many of you know I first arrived on this campus more than four decades ago as a student myself. Now, 47 years later, I am humbled and honored to serve an institution that means so much to me. If I can be of service to you in any way, please do not hesitate to reach out.

We are resilient and together we will continue to advance the University of Tennessee.

Go Vols,

Wayne Davis
Interim Chancellor

Campus Update: Our Future Is Bright

Every time I speak to groups about what is happening on our campus, I take along a 3D-printed prosthetic hand with an orange Power T on the back. I take it to meetings with donors, alumni, and community leaders. It sits on my desk and is often in the backseat of my car. If you watch the video below, then you’ll know why it has come to represent all that is so good about the University of Tennessee. You can’t help being impressed with Riley Toll, a first-year engineering student who worked with two upperclassmen to design and create her own prosthetic.

When I visited the Tickle College of Engineering at the beginning of the semester, I met Riley and her classmates in the Maker’s Club, where they showed off their work and gifted me an early prototype. It has become the ideal visual aid when I tell stories of our students’ ingenuity, talent, and persistence.

The UT Makers Club is creating prosthetics through 3D printing

Makers club president Chase Cumbelich, Riley Toll, Chad Duty and Alex Weber show some of the 3D printed limbs that the club has made

It’s the perfect example of what we do here at UT. We create. We innovate. We solve problems. Faculty, students, and staff use their skills, talents, education, and research to make things better—to help make their communities better, the state better, and the world better.

Record-Setting Year

By now you may know that we have had a record 18 students offered Fulbright Scholar awards, doubling last year’s record of nine recipients. Our students will take Rocky Top with them as they study wastewater purification in Argentina, insulin release in the Czech Republic, and ancient and contemporary architecture in Indonesia. These awards speak to our investment and commitment to education—to excellence and student success.

It’s no surprise that we are making history with the number of students receiving these prestigious awards because more and more of them are participating in research right here in Knoxville. Our total number of undergraduates participating in research grew by 50 percent last year, for a total of 2,205. Earlier this month, we had 850 students participate in EURēCA, our undergraduate research symposium—up by more than a third from last year.

Student explaining research at EUReCA during Undergraduate Research Week

Our faculty have also been busy at work receiving worldwide recognition for their research. Dr. Richard Jantz has received global acclaim for cracking one of history’s most captivating mysteries: the fate of Amelia Earhart. We also announced that UT will be a partner on a $9.8 million hypersonics development project with the US Air Force Research Laboratory and two other universities to help develop vehicles that travel at speeds greater than five times the speed of sound. One of our Governor’s Chairs, Suresh Babu, was chosen by the US Navy to lead a team that includes Virginia Tech, Ohio State, Iowa State, Colorado School of Mines, and the University of California, Santa Barbara, to conduct research in advanced manufacturing.

For the first time ever, our total research expenditures exceeded $200 million on the Knoxville campus. This total represents an 11 percent growth over last year, compared to a 4.8 percent average national growth. These are dollars that faculty have competitively won to support their research and the work of their student research partners.

Growing Campus

These accomplishments and milestones speak to the progress we’re making as a university. We are not complacent. We are continuing to invest in our students, our faculty, and our campus. This fall, we are preparing to open a new academic building, the Ken and Blaire Mossman Building, and we will break ground on a new $129 million engineering building later in the year. This year the stunning Strong Hall came to life again, and students have been busy in the state-of-the-art laboratories which boast views of the Great Smoky Mountains out of the windows on every side. And with fingers very crossed, we are looking forward to the long-awaited opening of the spectacular new $180 million Student Union. Drive along Volunteer Boulevard and you will see the landscaping being put into place right now. As our campus grows, so, too, will our faculty and our student body.

Rendering of the north side of new engineering building

I have commissioned, and we have begun implementing, an ambitious five-year plan to grow undergraduate enrollment by 15 percent. We hit our first-year goal last August when we welcomed an historic new class of more than 4,897 students. We’re on track to make history again as we expect, for the first time ever, to welcome more than 5,200 new students to Rocky Top this fall. Not only will you see more traditional first-year students, you’ll also see more transfer students. We expanded our Bridge Program with Pellissippi State by 19 percent last year and plan to have another record cohort this fall. We not only want to make a world-class education available to more students, but we want to make sure they succeed once they get here. We’ve been investing in advisors and support programs for students, and it’s paying off. This year, more students returned from fall to spring semester than ever before—a record-setting 95.6 percent! This persistence rate is a reflection on the entire campus community because we share this responsibility. All of our students, faculty, and staff must feel welcomed, included, supported, and able to thrive.

Group of students holding UT Confirmation Day flag

Scholarships play a central role in our ambitious goals to grow our student body by 15 percent—double the 7 percent growth we have experienced in the last 10 years. We are competing with some of the country’s best schools for the top students, and we need to do more for both merit and need-based awards. This year, we expect to award some $50 million in institutional scholarships in addition to the $30 million in HOPE scholarships awarded by the state. We’ve invested an additional $2.5 million in two scholarship programs aimed at helping our most vulnerable high school students, for a total of $16.3 million for the Tennessee Pride and Tennessee Project high schools. Our alumni chapters across the country awarded another $54,900 in scholarships in 2017, more than three times the amount they awarded just two years ago. We also have opened our new Veterans Resource Center and eliminated out-of-state tuition for our veterans, whom we hope to welcome more of in the fall.

Students talk in Humanities Plaza

We are extremely grateful to have such generous donors at our university, and during the 2017 calendar year, we raised $165 million. It was the third-largest fundraising year on record and a $20 million increase over 2016. As part of this effort, I created the Chancellor’s Transformational Fund, and with the $1.2 million given to date, I have been able to support microgrants for students who fall behind and are at-risk for leaving school, provide scholarships to bridge the gap for high-ability students, and give funding to Smokey’s Closet, which offers professional clothes to students who can’t afford interview attire.

This fund has also supported the Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships to provide grants to students to study or conduct research abroad. We’ve already seen the fruits of investing in these grants with this year’s Fulbright class. I have also invested in funds to support unpaid internships and co-ops through our Center for Career Development, and we’re working to expand Smokey’s Pantry for those students who might need a little extra to eat as they plug through the semester. We’re very grateful that so many students have donated meal card swipes for others who run out of funds or need a helping hand. I am so very proud that Vols help Vols!

A group of students with orange hands participating in the Slap the Rock event

Truly, it has been an incredible year. We all know there have been challenges, such as an unwelcomed racial separatist group and our discussions about the First Amendment and the role of our iconic Rock, where we left our handprints for justice.

Leading the Way

We are beyond proud of Coach Rick Barnes and our men’s basketball team for capturing a share of the SEC season championship. Tennis, softball, rowing, diving, and so many more sports are competing for national records. We are so pleased to welcome a new football and volleyball coach, and we’re exceedingly proud of how hard all of our student–athletes compete and win inside and outside of the classroom.

Rick Barnes with UT Mens Basketball players

We are very grateful to the General Assembly for the supportive budget that helps build our beautiful buildings and facilities, and ensures that our workers have a living wage and our productive faculty are competitively compensated.

We honored nine new unbelievably talented Torchbearers and handed out 66 awards and 289 academic citations to deserving graduating seniors, talented graduate students, and dedicated faculty. We inducted over a hundred students into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honorary society. Our engineers, nurses, social workers, musicians, global business scholars, entrepreneurs, budding lawyers, nutritionists, hospitality and tourism professionals, educators, inventors, artists, and more come through these streets and avenues, buildings and hallways, and their triumphs trump all of the challenges we have met. They are smart, they are prepared, they are ready to change the world, and as I always say, they will lead us to a better, more prosperous, just, and kind tomorrow.

Outstanding students are recognized as Torchbearers during the Chancellor's Honor Banquet

So along with the 3D-printed hand, I take these stories of Tennessee everywhere I go. It has become my mission to make sure that across this state and this country, people know of the great minds and talents and research and exploration we have here at Rocky Top. I hope you’ll take these next few days of spring semester to soak in the companionship you have found here and the common bonds of learning and discovery that draw us together.

As always, I hope you all know how proud I am of the work you are doing and how proud I am to work alongside you to make this place of learning something special you will take with you for the rest of your life.

Onward and upward!

David Manderscheid Named Provost, Senior Vice Chancellor

David Manderscheid

David Manderscheid

I’m very pleased to tell you that I’ve named David Manderscheid, currently executive dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and vice provost for arts and sciences at the Ohio State University, our new provost and senior vice chancellor.

He will start July 1.

Coming from Ohio State, where he provided leadership for its largest college, David understands our land-grant mission and the breadth and scope of a large nationally ranked public institution. During his career, he’s built a reputation for success in forging interdisciplinary partnerships. As the lead dean in OSU’s initiative on translational data analytics, he’ll provide great leadership in our initial cluster hiring with Oak Ridge National Laboratory in this area. His success in advancing e-learning, education abroad, and service-learning fits perfectly with our growth goals and Volunteer traditions at UT.

David is an internationally recognized mathematician and will hold the rank of professor in our Department of Mathematics. He received his PhD in mathematics from Yale University and his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Michigan State University. He has held appointments at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton; the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, California; and the University of Paris.

His work in representation theory with applications to number theory has been widely published. He has received support from the National Science Foundation, the National Security Agency, and the US Department of Education in addition to numerous teaching awards.

David is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and an inaugural fellow of the American Mathematical Society. He serves as past president of the Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences—the largest group of arts and sciences deans in the country—and chairs the Big Ten Academic Alliance Liberal Arts and Sciences Deans’ Group.

Before joining Ohio State, David was dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln from 2007 to 2013. He served for 20 years on the faculty of the University of Iowa, where he rose through the ranks to become chair of the Department of Mathematics.

David’s wife, Susan Lawrence, will be joining our Department of History as a professor. She is an expert in the history of medicine, with specific research interests in privacy and research ethics as well as the history of human dissection in medical education.

As we move toward this transition, I want to offer my heartfelt thanks to John Zomchick, who has been our interim provost and senior vice chancellor since August 2016 and will continue serving in the post until David arrives. He’s been an invaluable part of my leadership team since I arrived here, and he’ll continue to have a senior advisory role moving forward.

I also want to thank Victoria Niederhauser, dean of the College of Nursing, who chaired the search committee, along with her committee members, for a job well done.

Picnic on the Plaza

Picnic on the Plaza to Celebrate Faculty, Staff, Retirees

Knoxville-area faculty, staff, and retirees are invited to this year’s Picnic on the Plaza from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, April 10, on the Humanities Plaza.

Picnic on the Plaza is an opportunity for me to celebrate and thank you for your service to the university. This event also is supported by President Joe DiPietro, UT Institute of Agriculture Chancellor Tim Cross, and Vice President for Public Service Herb Byrd.

Please join me for a picnic with music, games, and giveaways. RecSports will have games such as giant checkers, Connect Four, horseshoes, and cornhole set up for guests to enjoy along with footballs and hula hoops.

Volunteer Dining will serve grilled chicken, hamburgers, pinto beans, loaded potato salad, kettle chips, garden salad, cookies, mini cupcakes, and beverages. Vegetarian choices include tofu sloppy joes and veggie burgers.

Invitations will be sent by email, but you do not need to RSVP.

In the event of rain, the picnic will be held in Thompson-Boling Arena.

For transportation to the picnic from campus locations not within walking distance, the T’s Hill route and Neyland Express will be running every five to seven minutes. The Hill route serves locations on Circle Drive, Cumberland Avenue, Andy Holt Avenue, and Volunteer Boulevard, while the Neyland Express serves River Drive, Service Drive, Chapman Drive, Neyland Drive, and the bus plaza at Neyland Stadium Gate 21. For more info on T bus routes, visit the Ride the T website and access live bus locations online.

KAT’s Knoxville Trolley Vol Line serves locations near the UT Conference Center and 11th Street Garage along with the UT Police Department, Cumberland Avenue, and Volunteer Boulevard. Trolley service will run every 10 minutes.


Two Final Provost Candidate Public Forums Announced

Over the next few weeks, two final candidates for the position of provost and senior vice chancellor will visit campus and hold public forums:

  • Kimberly Andrews Espy, the senior vice president for research at the University of Arizona, will visit campus Tuesday and Wednesday, March 20 and 21, and will hold a public forum from 3 to 4 p.m. March 20 in in the Lindsay Young Auditorium of Hodges Library.
  • David C. Manderscheid, the executive dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and vice provost for arts and sciences at the Ohio State University, will visit campus Wednesday and Thursday, March 28 and 29, and will hold a public forum from 3 to 4 p.m. March 29 in the Lindsay Young Auditorium of Hodges Library.

The search website provides biographical information on each candidate, their CV, and a feedback form to share your thoughts.

The provost is the chief academic officer of the university and a key member of my senior leadership team. The provost provides oversight of all academic divisions, colleges, departments, and programs, and the services that support them.

Victoria Niederhauser, dean of the College of Nursing, is chairing the search.

Please check the search website frequently to learn more about each candidate. Thank you for participating in this important search for our campus.

Provost Candidate Interviews

I am pleased to announce that we are beginning interviews for the position of provost and senior vice chancellor.

The first candidate is John Zomchick, the current interim provost and senior vice chancellor. As part of his interview process on Monday and Tuesday, March 5 and 6, a public forum will be held from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Lindsay Young Auditorium in Hodges Library.

Additional candidates will be visiting campus soon.

We’ve created a search website that will provide biographical information on each candidate, their CV, the time and location for their public forum, and a feedback form to share your thoughts. The website will be updated as each candidate is confirmed.

The provost is the chief academic officer of the university and a key member of my senior leadership team. The provost provides oversight of all academic divisions, colleges, departments, and programs, and the services that support them.

Victoria Niederhauser, dean of the College of Nursing, is chairing the search.

Please check the website frequently to learn more about each candidate as their visits are scheduled. I hope you will participate in this important search for our campus.

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