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Chancellor’s Honors Banquet Nominations Open

The annual Chancellor’s Honors Banquet is a long-standing tradition of celebrating excellence at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. It is a time to honor the academic and service achievements that represent the best of our university. I ask you to nominate students, faculty, staff, and organizations that embody the highest level of scholastic and service accomplishments for awards to be presented at the banquet.

You can learn more about the awards and make nominations online at the Chancellor’s Honors Banquet website. Please direct any questions to the selection committee chairs listed under each award.

Thank you for helping recognize excellence on our campus.

Victor McCrary Named Vice Chancellor for Research

I’m pleased to tell you that Victor McCrary has accepted our offer to become Tennessee’s next vice chancellor for research. He will begin March 5.

Victor is coming to us from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, where he is the vice president for research and economic development.

Victor McCrary

Victor McCrary

Victor has a distinguished record as a researcher and university administrator. At Morgan State they call him an agent of change for developing a comprehensive research strategy for the university and fostering cross-disciplinary work. We welcome his expertise in advancing our research enterprise and guiding the implementation of our cluster hire and grand challenge initiatives.

Prior to joining Morgan State, McCrary held research administrative positions at Johns Hopkins University, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and AT&T Bell Laboratories.

As our chief research officer, Victor will promote research, economic development, humanistic inquiry, and creative design. He will be especially instrumental in facilitating our collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory through UT-Battelle and other research and development institutions in the region and state.

Victor says he’s excited about joining our team: “What attracted me to UT is its great history, rich research tradition, and the partnership with a forward-looking national laboratory, but what really made the difference is its energetic leadership team and its innovative faculty, staff, and students.”

Victor has a doctorate in physical chemistry from Howard University, an executive master’s degree in engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the Catholic University of America. He is a fellow of the American Chemical Society and a member of the National Science Board.

Victor and his wife, Mercedes, have two children, Francesca and Maximilian.

Onward and Upward

As we head into graduation and the end of another academic term, I look back in awe of our accomplishments and forward with anticipation of what’s next.

The moments I’ve enjoyed the most, the ones that energize me and remind me why we do this work, are those I have spent with all of you. My first full semester here began with the once-in-a-lifetime viewing of a solar eclipse from the lawn of Ayres Hall. I watched on move-in day when new students arrived with smiles on their faces and their parents left with tears in their eyes. I attended my first MicNite and, yes, my very first football game in Neyland Stadium. And just last weekend, I watched the undefeated Lady Vols beat second-ranked Texas and saw Coach Barnes lead the men’s basketball team to a passionate win that put them into the top 20.

With my family in Neyland Stadium on game day

With my family in Neyland Stadium on game day

I have been all over this campus since August visiting new laboratories, learning environments, and living facilities. I’ve toured the Fab Lab and the Health Innovation Technology and Simulation Laboratory. I enjoyed lunch at the Anderson Center Business Accelerator, spoke at the UT Medical Center at a pinning ceremony for students graduating from our Medical Laboratory Sciences program, celebrated the opening of the newly renovated Strong Hall, and directed (sort of) the Pride of the Southland Band in their final practice of the year.

We welcomed UT’s largest and best-prepared freshman class in at least three decades. Our students have found their classrooms all over the world—including two students who were named Schwarzman Scholars, three who were recently honored by the “junior Nobel Prize” awards, and 10 who have received Fulbright awards.

We have announced the offices of a new high-tech medical device company at the Cherokee Farm Innovation Campus and opened a new Veterans Resource Center that will serve our students who have served this country in uniform.

We launched a $1.1 billion fundraising campaign that will help us continue to push the boundaries of learning, discovery, and innovation. We are preparing to hire a new vice chancellor for research, celebrating a new football coach, and gearing up to recruit a new provost. This campus has indeed been busy!

Students watching the solar eclipse on Ayres lawn

Students watching the solar eclipse on Ayres lawn

These highs have not come without tough decisions in recent months, including my decisions to opt out of the state’s outsourcing plan and to change leadership in the athletics department. These decisions have not been easy, and at times they brought regrettable negative attention to this campus which detracted from the great work you all are doing. But these challenges have also shown me what a resilient place this is, and that strength and resilience are in no small part a demonstration of the love and loyalty to this place we call Rocky Top. Your commitment to this university is why we will continue to excel as a place of learning, of innovation, of inclusion, and of exploration.

You remind me every day why this is such a special place. We have engineering students and faculty who are taking mobile science labs to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital to demonstrate 3D printing. Business school students, for seven years now, have hosted a 5K and community festival to benefit Samaritan Place. And other student leaders are participating in community action projects focused on the LGBTQ+ community, Smokey’s Pantry, and Ijams Nature Center.

At the opening of the Veterans Resource Center

At the opening of the Veterans Resource Center

Your compassion for others, your drive for excellence, and your commitment to doing great work on this campus and in this community are inspiring. You are all torchbearers, and you certainly shine a light on all my work.

So enjoy this break. Spend time with your families and your friends this holiday season. Take a moment to be grateful, to renew your commitment to others and to yourself, and to be mindful, hopeful, and kind. I hope you’ll return in the new year energized and ready to continue fulfilling the mission of this university.

Onward and upward!

Changes in Athletic Department Leadership

I want to let you know about a change in my senior leadership team made earlier today.

Athletic Director John Currie has been placed on leave with pay, and Phillip Fulmer will begin serving as athletic director effective immediately.

I have taken these steps in the best interest of the university.

I am confident that Phillip understands the need to support our student-athletes and our commitment to excellence in all athletic programs. I appreciate his willingness to serve during this critical time.

No one better understands the storied history of Vol athletics and its deep connection to alumni and fans, and I believe he will be a unifying presence for all of us committed to the university’s success.

Beverly J. Davenport

Statement from Chancellor Davenport

Statement from University of Tennessee, Knoxville Chancellor Beverly Davenport

“I deeply regret the events of yesterday for everyone involved. The university remains steadfast in its commitment to excellence, and I look forward to John Currie continuing the search to bring the next head football coach to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.”

Annual FERPA Training

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is dedicated to following the guidelines set forth by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), also known as the Buckley Amendment. FERPA is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. Students have specific protected rights regarding the release of education records, and the law requires that institutions—especially institutions that receive federal funding—adhere to the guidelines.

Staff and faculty who have access to student information are charged with the responsibility of handling that information in a protective manner that complies with all FERPA regulations. It is, therefore, imperative that all university personnel with access to student information maintain a working knowledge of FERPA requirements before they consider releasing any type of student education record, including grades and grade rolls, class rolls, Degree Audit Reports (DARs), academic history reports, class schedules, etc.

In order to ensure that faculty and staff understand FERPA policies, the Office of the University Registrar has implemented a FERPA training program.

This semester, all Knoxville campus faculty and staff are required to thoroughly review the online presentation that details FERPA policies and procedures. View the FERPA training presentation. You must enter your NetID and password to view the presentation. The registrar will track participation in the program, and we expect to have 100 percent participation by December 8, 2017.

We hope the information is useful to you in your everyday interactions with students and student information. If you have questions, please visit the university’s FERPA website, contact the Office of the University Registrar at 865-974-1501, or email

Join Me at the Veterans Resource Center Dedication This Friday

I’m so proud that our campus is known as a welcoming place for veterans, and our new Veterans Resource Center will make it even more welcoming. Though the center opened this summer, I hope you will join me to officially dedicate it this week.

Friday, November 17
10 a.m.
Hodges Library First Floor Galleria

The new Veterans Resource Center offers assistance and guidance to active duty service members, veterans, reservists, guardsmen, and family members using VA educational benefits.

Contact the Veterans Resource Center at 865-974-5420 with any questions.

Candidates for Vice Chancellor for Research to Visit Campus

I am pleased to announce that four candidates for the position of vice chancellor for research will visit campus over the next few weeks.
As part of their visits, each candidate will lead a public forum for the campus community and respond to questions following their presentations. The campus community is invited to provide feedback on each candidate.
Stacey Patterson, interim vice president for research, outreach, and economic development for the UT System, is chairing the search.
The candidates are as follows:
Lynne E. Parker
Open Forum: 2-3 p.m. Wednesday, November 8, in Plant Biotechnology Building Room 156/157
Parker is the associate dean for faculty affairs and engagement in UT’s Tickle College of Engineering. Parker provides leadership and direction for the college’s tenure and promotion processes, the hiring, orientation, and annual reviews of college faculty, and the college’s engagement programs. She also is an adjunct distinguished research and development staff member at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Previously she was the director of the information and intelligent systems division of the National Science Foundation’s computer and information science and engineering directorate. Parker has a doctorate in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Mark A. Johnson
Open Forum: 2-3 p.m. Thursday, November 9, in Lindsay Young Auditorium, Hodges Library
Johnson is a research professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at North Carolina State University. Until recently, he also was the director of the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office in Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. In that role, Johnson oversaw the office’s research, development, and deployment activities. Previously he was a program director in the energy section of the DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency. Johnson has a doctorate in materials science and engineering from North Carolina State University.
Grace M. Bochenek
Open Forum: 2-3 p.m. Thursday, November 16, in Plant Biotechnology Building Room 156/157
Bochenek is the laboratory director of the US Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In that role, Bochenek oversees energy and environmental research and development programs at the laboratory’s campuses and strategic business offices. She was appointed acting secretary of the US Department of Energy by President Barack Obama during the transition of administrations in January 2017 and served until March 2017. She has a doctorate in industrial and systems engineering from the University of Central Florida.
Victor R. McCrary Jr.
Open Forum: 2-3 p.m. Tuesday, November 28, in Plant Biotechnology Building Room 156/157
McCrary is the vice president for research and economic development at Morgan State University. McCrary is charged with developing a university-wide research ecosystem, augmenting the university’s intellectual property portfolio, and overseeing externally funded contracts, grants, and technology transfer. Previously he was the emerging technology and innovation manager at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. McCrary has a doctorate in physical chemistry from Howard University.
View each candidate’s curriculum vitae on the position search website.
I hope you will make plans to attend the forums and share your feedback.

Outsourcing Update

I write to inform you that I have decided to opt out of the proposed plan to outsource facilities management. This decision was reached after considerable analysis of proposed savings and a close examination of our current and future operations.

I am deeply indebted to our staff, led by Senior Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Chris Cimino, who has worked diligently since 2015 to evaluate outsourcing on the Knoxville campus.

The goal of the proposed outsourcing plan was to improve efficiencies and determine what is in the best interest of our campus. We thank the state and the UT System administration for challenging us to engage in extensive cost analyses and an evaluation of our practices, which have led to cost-saving operational changes in keeping with the outsourcing goals.

My decision to opt out was based on the extensive analyses of the financial considerations, the complexity of the work done on our research-intensive campus, and our commitment to the East Tennessee economy and our workforce. It is for these reasons that I have decided outsourcing facilities management is not the best option for our campus.

Since the approval of the 2011 campus master plan, we have invested heavily in our facilities and infrastructure. In fact, we have increased the space we enhance and the buildings we maintain by more than 100 acres and one and a half million square feet.

During this historic period of growth, we have reduced operating expenses, become more efficient, avoided costs and subsequently reallocated savings to the academic mission. In fact, we rank among the lowest in the SEC in administrative and maintenance costs per square foot. Five-year projections indicate an additional $3.3 million in savings.

I want to thank the numerous people who have spent countless hours evaluating the outsourcing option. I have had dozens of meetings, received volumes of mail, and had detailed conversations with a wide range of constituents. I value all of this input and appreciate the opportunity to make a decision based on the best interests of our campus.

Most sincerely,

Beverly J. Davenport

Thank You!

Last Friday I had the honor and pleasure of being invested as the eighth chancellor of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. I cannot express how meaningful and memorable the ceremony was on so many different levels. Thank you to each and every person who attended, including our faculty, staff, and students; special guests; and colleagues from colleges and universities across the region and around the country. I am especially grateful to all the faculty who participated in the academic processional.

If you were at the event, you heard from University of Tennessee System President Joe DiPietro, Interim Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor John Zomchick, Professor of English Marilyn Kallet, and my son, Ford Sypher. I so appreciated their words of support, encouragement, and inspiration.

In my remarks, I outlined a vision for the university, a call for us to be our better selves, a call to want more, be more, and do more. I talked about the Tennessee and Volunteer difference and focused on the journey that moves more programs into the Top 25, joining nuclear engineering, supply chain management, accounting, art, and architecture, just to name a few.

I also was proud to share my vision of our campus:

  • We will be a campus of civility and respect. We will stand up for each other and against bigotry and racism.
  • We will value and welcome honest and informed intellectual debate.
  • As a point along the corridor that’s been identified as the Maker Belt, we stand ready to promote innovation and entrepreneurship with job-ready graduates.
  • We will be outward facing and known by our partnerships with the city, state, other educational institutions, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. And we will put the city of Knoxville at the forefront, because great universities need great cities and great cities need great universities.
  • We will demonstrate our commitment to student success and access by enrollment growth, increased scholarships, advising, and partnerships with other institutions.
  • We will be a torchbearer for inclusiveness, which at its core means respect for others and their contributions.

These are the things that differentiate Volunteers from others. We are servants, leaders, torchbearers, competitors, and winners—and we are the first and the only Volunteers!

Choral performers from the UT Singers and UT Chamber Singers closed out the afternoon with a powerful rendition of one of my favorite songs, Andra Day’s “Rise Up.” To say it was moving is an understatement. What beauty and power our students brought to the stage.

Thank you for entrusting and supporting me with the leadership of this 223 year old institution. As Rosabeth Moss Kanter said, “A vision is not just a picture of what could be; it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more.”

Thank you for rising up with me to be the best version of our Volunteer selves.



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