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Fall 2015 Faculty Pub

Because the third floor of the Boathouse is no longer available as an event venue, we will do an abbreviated schedule this fall.  The dates will be October 29th and November 19th from 4-7PM at the Tyson Alumni House, next to Hodges Library.  We look forward to seeing you at the pub and welcome any feedback on the new venue or suggestions for other venues at

Introducing Our Experience Learning Initiative

Dear colleagues,

Experience Learning logoThis fall, we will launch Experience Learning. This new initiative will transform the educational experience for undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Tennessee by giving them more opportunities to be involved in civic engagement, to solve complex real-world problems, and to contribute to the welfare of their communities as part of their regular course work.

Grounded in the pedagogical concept of experiential learning, this new initiative will enrich the academic experience in every discipline. It will help our students develop lifelong skills in learning and problem solving and prepare them for the ever-changing global environment.

A team of faculty, staff, and students spent the past two years developing Experience Learning as part of our Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges reaccreditation process. Throughout the process, the team solicited feedback from the campus community and found great enthusiasm for the idea.

Many of you already incorporate Experience Learning concepts in your courses. In fact, our ongoing Smart Communities Initiative will be a major component of Experience Learning. The Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center will assist faculty who want to incorporate experiential learning into their course work.

Matthew Theriot, associate provost for teaching and learning innovation, is leading the implementation of Experience Learning and oversees the Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center. We recently began searching for an Experience Learning director to work closely with Matthew in support of this new initiative.

We will promote Experience Learning to the campus community via a series of informational ads in the Daily Beacon, videos and stories in Tennessee Today and Vol Update, and our new Experience Learning website.

I invite you to get involved and see how you and your students will Experience Learning.


Susan D. Martin
Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor

Matthew Theriot Named Associate Provost for Teaching and Learning Innovation

Matthew TheriotI’m pleased to announce that Associate Professor of Social Work Matthew Theriot, who successfully led the effort to develop our new Experience Learning initiative, has been named associate provost for teaching and learning innovation.

The new post is a three-year appointment that will involve 50 percent of his time.

One of Matthew’s primary responsibilities will be overseeing the implementation of Experience Learning, which begins this fall. Matthew also will oversee the Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center.

Matthew chaired the interdisciplinary team that spent nearly two years designing Experience Learning, which is our new Quality Enhancement Plan, a required component of UT’s reaccreditation process with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

He did a superb job of leading a large team of faculty, staff, and students to develop Experience Learning. The plan drew many compliments from SACSCOC evaluators, and Matthew’s leadership received high praise from team members.

He is a natural fit for this new role and he will be an asset to our team as we work to reach our goals for improving teaching and learning on our campus.

Matthew received his doctorate in social welfare from the University of California, Berkeley. He received his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in social work from the University of Texas at Austin. He joined our faculty in 2003 and served as director of the College of Social Work’s undergraduate program from 2006 to 2013. Since 2013 he’s been director of the college’s PhD program.

Please join me in congratulating Matthew and welcoming him into this new role.


Susan D. Martin
Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor

2015 New Faculty Orientation

The orientation for the new instructional faculty of the 2015-16 academic year will be held on Tuesday, August 11th, in the Auditorium of Hodges Library. This allows us to formally welcome our new faculty and lay the ground-work for them to have successful careers as educators and researchers.  For more information about this event, please visit click here.

R. J. Hinde Appointed Vice Provost for Academic Affairs

R.J. Hinde portrait photoR. J. Hinde, who has been an associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences for more than seven years, has been appointed the new vice provost for academic affairs. He will begin his new role on August 1.

Hinde came to UT in 1994 as an assistant professor of chemistry. He became an associate and then full professor before starting his term as associate dean for teaching and diversity in the College of Arts and Sciences in 2008. In 2011, he became the college’s associate dean for academic programs.

Hinde’s leadership role with the College of Arts and Sciences aligns closely with many of the responsibilities he’ll have as vice provost. He helped restructure the college’s curricula and has worked closely with course scheduling, enrollment management, and student learning outcome assessment. He also has served on a long list of university-wide committees and task forces.

“R.J. has a commitment to academic excellence as well as a broad and deep understanding of our academic programs and curricula,” Provost Susan D. Martin said. “He will be a valuable part of the provost’s team and help us advance our Top 25/Vol Vision goals.”

Hinde said he’s excited to join the provost’s office at a time when there are so many positive initiatives under way at the university.

“The campus-wide emphasis, during the past five years, on data-driven decision making and resource allocation, on the establishment of policies and programs that support undergraduate students’ success, and on the assessment of program-level student learning outcomes transformed many aspects of the undergraduate experience at UT,” he said. “The next five years have the potential to be equally transformative.”

Hinde has a PhD from the University of Chicago and did postdoctoral work at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. In 2007, he was a visiting researcher at the University of Helsinki in Finland.

Hinde replaces Sally McMillan, who is returning to the faculty in UT’s College of Communication and Information after five years as vice provost for academic affairs.

Eight-Semester Plans Help Community College Students Transfer

8-semester-planWe are making some changes to help community college students transfer more easily to UT.

We want to increase our enrollment of well-prepared transfer students, and we want students who transfer to UT to use their time at community colleges wisely so that all their courses will count toward their intended four-year degree.

This past fall, we admitted 1,200 transfer students, but only 260 had associate’s degrees. We’d like to see that number rise—and we expect that it will, as students take advantage of the new Tennessee Promise Scholarship program that guarantees two free years of community college to the state’s graduating high school seniors.

Last fall, the Board of Trustees approved a new memorandum of understanding that outlines the requirements Tennessee community college students must meet to be guaranteed admission to UT. Those who have completed their associate’s degrees within two years of applying to UT are guaranteed admission if they have 60 transferable credit hours—45 of which were earned at the community college—and a 3.0 grade point average.

We’re now in the process of designing transfer transition guides, eight-semester plans that provide details about transferable academic credit and academic preparation based on the major that student plans to pursue. In some cases, these plans outline specific courses to take. They also advise students on how to best choose electives.

We’ve already rolled out eight-semester plans for Pellissippi State Community College. We will soon introduce plans for Roane State Community College and Walters State Community College.

Starting this summer, transfer students also will have the benefit of using uTrack. This system provides a road map for each major so students can see which academic courses they must complete and when they must complete them to graduate on time. The system alerts students if they get off track with their coursework or grades so they can develop a plan to catch up or, if necessary, change to a more achievable major.

To encourage this effort, we’ve created a transfer team in our undergraduate admissions office. Associate Director Connie Harmon chairs the team, which includes Larry Long, assistant director of transfer recruitment, and will also include three regional recruiters. A Middle Tennessee recruiter has been hired, a West Tennessee recruiter search is underway, and an East Tennessee recruiter will be hired later this spring.

Smart Communities Initiative Making Impact

smart-communitiesMidway through its first year, our Smart Communities Initiative has already made a major impact—both on the students and faculty involved in the projects and on our first-year partner, the city of Cleveland, Tennessee.

This year, faculty and students in twenty courses are working on thirteen projects as part of the initiative. One of the projects is developing a marketing and branding plan for Cleveland.

Just before the winter break, Cleveland city officials came to campus for a two-hour presentation by Associate Professor Deb Shmerler’s senior graphic design class, which spent last semester doing research to lay the groundwork for the branding campaign.

Through interviews, discussions, and an online survey, Shmerler’s students learned that Cleveland residents want to retain their community’s history and balance its southern charm while embracing industry. Cleveland residents are also determined to counter urban sprawl with small-town ingenuity, capitalize on the beauty of the surrounding area, and promote a healthful, balanced lifestyle.

A small group of Shmerler’s students have traveled to Cleveland this month to present their findings to the Cleveland City Council. They’ll spend the rest of the semester developing visual ideas for the city’s brand and preparing a final report.

Meanwhile, we are preparing to name our city partner for next year. Proposals from interested cities are due in the coming weeks, and we will announce our 2015–16 partner next month.

As we move forward, SCI will be a key component of Experience Learning—our new Quality Enhancement Plan, part of our reaccreditation process for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Read more about our Smart Communities Initiative here.

2015 Life of the Mind Book Chosen

life-of-the-mindLooking for a great book to read this spring? Pick up our 2015 Life of the Mind selection, The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez.

It’s a fictional tale about two immigrant families—one from Mexico and one from Panama—who come to America in search of better lives. The title comes from a statement made by one of the characters: “We’re the unknown Americans … the ones no one even wants to know, because they’ve been told they’re supposed to be scared of us and because maybe if they did take the time to get to know us, they might realize that we’re not that bad, maybe even that we’re a lot like them.”

The Book of Unknown Americans is the third book by Henríquez, of Chicago, whose father immigrated to the United States from Panama in the 1970s. It was included in the New York Times list of “100 Notable Books of 2014” and listed among Amazon’s top ten books of 2014 and O magazine’s fifteen must-read books of 2014.

LOM author photo

Now in its thirteenth year, Life of the Mind is part of First Year Studies 100, a zero-credit pass-fail class that gives students their first taste of college studies and requires them to complete online lessons on topics including alcohol awareness, financial literacy, plagiarism, technology, civility, and succeeding at UT.

Freshmen are asked to read the book and complete a written response before arriving on campus. During Welcome Week, they will participate in small-group discussion sessions and attend an event where we hope to have the author speak.

The book was chosen by a committee of faculty, students, and staff led by Ruth Darling, assistant provost for student success, and Jason Mastrogiovanni, director of first-year studies. They chose The Book of Unknown Americans because it aligns nicely with our civility and global initiatives.

I hope you’ll take time to read the book and consider leading one of the discussion sessions during Welcome Week next fall. Look for more information in the coming months in Tennessee Today.

To learn more about the book, please read these reviews from the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Faculty Appreciation Week is February 16–20

Faculty Appreciation WeekWe’ve received outstanding national attention this year for the progress we’ve made in our journey to become a Top 25 public research university.

In honor of our increasing retention and graduation rates, the university received the “Most Visible Progress” Trailblazer Award from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. We also received 2015 Carnegie Community Engagement Classification for our mutually beneficial community partnerships.

We couldn’t have garnered these accolades without the dedication and hard work of our employees. To recognize and thank you, we’re using “trailblazers” as the theme of our 2015 Faculty Appreciation Week, to be held February 16–20.

The week will begin with a free lunch seminar sponsored by the Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center. The Chancellor will also host a reception for his Cabinet members, deans, department heads, distinguished professors, governor’s chairs, chancellor’s professors, chairs of excellence, endowed professorship holders, and others who have received significant awards over the past year.

Faculty and staff also will be able to enjoy specially priced tickets for that week’s men’s and women’s basketball games, as well as added discounts at the VolShop and campus dining establishments.

Be watching for more information about these and other events, as well as special Faculty Appreciation Week stories about selected faculty members, in Tennessee Today.

It’s Time to Update Vol Vision

steve-smith-2012Guided by our Top 25/Vol Vision strategic plan, we’ve seen tremendous progress over the past five years. We’ve improved our recruitment efforts, seen gains in retention and graduation rates, increased our diversity numbers, and seen a rise in faculty and staff salaries. Our campus is also undergoing a remarkable makeover, with a record amount of construction and renovation underway.

But, much has changed since we introduced Vol Vision in 2010. It’s time that we review our efforts and identify areas where more progress is needed.

I’ve asked Steve Smith, dean of University Libraries, to lead a milestone review committee. This group will engage the campus community in setting goals for the next five years and updating our strategic plan.

From now until May, the committee will focus on assessing our current progress, studying external factors that may impact our work, evaluating our progress compared to that of our peers, and pinpointing gaps.

The committee will then spend a few months seeking input from stakeholders, including students, faculty, parents, community members, legislative representatives, and others who have an interest in higher education and our university. The committee’s recommendations—due in mid-December 2015—will serve as the groundwork for our Vol Vision update.

Members of the Milestone Review Committee are Annette Ranft, senior associate dean, Haslam College of Business; Chris Cox, associate head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; David Golden, professor of food science and technology; Larry McKay, professor of earth and planetary science; Mark Dean, engineering professor; Tina Shepardson, associate professor of religious studies; Catherine Luther, associate dean of the College of Communication and Information; Susan Benner, associate dean and director in the College of Education, Health, and Human Science; Beth Schussler, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology; Frank Cuevas, assistant vice chancellor and executive director of University Housing; Lee Patouillet, associate vice chancellor, Alumni Affairs; Erik Bledsoe, director of Creative Communications; Janet Nelson, associate vice chancellor for research development; Jonee Lindstrom, associate vice chancellor of finance and administration; Jon Gilbert, senior associate athletic director; Mary Lucal, human resources director; Serena Matsunaga, a consultant to the provost; Denise Gardner, assistant provost and director of the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment; and a yet-to-be-named undergraduate and graduate student.

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