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Meet Interim Chancellor Davis

“As an alum, a faculty member, and an administrator, I have been committed to this great university and its journey toward excellence for more than 45 years. I am deeply honored to be asked to serve in this role.”

Wayne T. Davis became interim chancellor of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, on May 7, 2018. In assuming leadership of the state’s flagship university, Davis is responsible for guiding a campus with an annual budget of $1.2 billion and an endowment of $581 million; an enrollment of 28,000 students and a workforce of nearly 12,000 faculty, staff, and students; and a base of more than 250,000 alumni. UT has a Carnegie classification of doctoral university (highest research activity) and is a top 30 public research university with an annual economic impact of over $4.3 billion systemwide. UT Knoxville alone has an economic impact on the state of $1.7 billion and is responsible for generating 33,000 jobs.

Davis first came to UT as a graduate student in 1971 along with his wife, Sylvia. He earned his master’s degree in environmental engineering and doctorate in civil engineering from the university in 1973 and 1975, respectively, and has held faculty and administrative roles at UT since. He served as assistant dean of the Graduate School from 1985 through 1988 and as its associate dean from 1988 through 1991.

He became interim dean of what is now the Tickle College of Engineering in 2008 before assuming the role permanently the following year. His time as dean saw massive growth in the college, including a near doubling of its student body and doctoral enrollment; the addition of 42 new faculty positions, more than doubling the number of endowed positions, and the hiring of 12 UT–Oak Ridge National Laboratory Governor’s Chairs; construction of the Min H. Kao Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Building and the John D. Tickle Engineering Building, with a new $129 million engineering complex in the construction phase; and an improvement in student quality, with incoming freshmen in the college now averaging a GPA of 4.05 and an ACT math score of 30.5.

Davis was named Macebearer, UT Knoxville’s highest faculty honor, in 2003.

The US Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, and Department of Transportation; the National Science Foundation; ORNL; and the American Society for Engineering Education have all recognized Davis for his service and accomplishments. He is a member of the Air and Waste Management Association, a fellow of the American Society of Engineering Education, and a board-certified member of the American Academy of Environmental Engineering and Science.

He and his wife, Sylvia, have been married nearly 50 years. They have two children and three grandchildren.