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Theriot Named Interim Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs

I’m pleased to announce that Matthew Theriot will become interim vice provost for faculty affairs on August 1. He also will continue to serve as associate provost for teaching and learning innovation.

Matthew Theriot

Matthew Theriot

This appointment completes a series of administrative changes prompted by my return to the Department of Classics faculty. John Zomchick, who has been vice provost for faculty affairs, will become interim provost and senior vice chancellor.

As interim vice provost for faculty affairs, Matthew will oversee and facilitate processes related to faculty recruitment, retention, evaluation, promotion, and professional development. He will also lead campus efforts on faculty-related aspects of the Vol Vision 2020 strategic plan.

A year ago, Matthew took on a three-year half-time appointment as associate provost for teaching and learning innovation. In this role, he’s been leading the implementation of Experience Learning. The Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center and UT Service-Learning also report to him.

In his role as associate provost and leader of the Quality Enhancement Plan team for our reaccreditation process by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Matthew has been an effective liaison between administration and faculty. We’re confident he’ll use his skills to keep us on the journey outlined in Vol Vision 2020 during this time of transition.

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 came to UT in 2003. He served as director of the College of Social Work’s undergraduate program from 2006 to 2013 and then served for three years as director of the college’s PhD program.

Please join me in thanking and congratulating Matthew for taking on this additional set of responsibilities.


Susan D. Martin
Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor

John Zomchick Named Interim Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor

John ZomchickChancellor Jimmy G. Cheek announced today that John Zomchick, vice provost for faculty affairs, will serve as interim provost and senior vice chancellor beginning August 1, when Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Susan Martin will return to the classics faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Zomchick has been serving as vice provost for more than four years. Prior to joining the provost’s staff, he was executive associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences. He came to UT in 1985 as an assistant professor of English and earned the rank of professor in 2000. He has held a number of administrative appointments including associate dean for academic personnel, interim associate dean for academic programs, and department head.

He is an award-winning teacher and a gifted scholar of eighteenth-century English literature. He has a Bachelor of Arts from Pennsylvania State University and a master’s and a doctorate in English literature from Columbia University.

Provost Susan Martin Announces Her Return to the Faculty

Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Susan Martin has announced that she will return to her faculty position in the Department of Classics on August 1.

Susan MartinMartin has worked for UT for more than thirty-five years and has served as UT Knoxville’s chief academic officer since 2009.

“I am sad and we will miss her greatly on my team, but I know that UT is in a much better place because of her superb leadership,” said Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek. “I credit her leadership and her vision for so many of the transformational changes we’ve been able to make in recruiting, supporting, retaining, and graduating our students.”

A national search to fill the position will begin soon.

Cheek said Martin helped to hire nearly all of UT’s current college deans and has recruited many world-renowned scholars to the UT faculty. Her leadership has helped UT make more strategic data-driven decisions that have led to better service for students and greater support for faculty and academic programs.

Martin oversaw the development of the Vol Vision strategic plan as well as UT’s reaccreditation and subsequent development of the new Experience Learning initiative. She also led large-scale improvements to student advising and academic support services and the creation of the One Stop Student Services Center, the Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center, and UT Service-Learning.

Martin said, “I will be forever grateful to Chancellor Cheek for the opportunities he has afforded me to move the university forward. Our strong partnership has resulted in many successes as we have worked to strengthen academics at UT.”

In 2014, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities honored UT with its Trailblazer award for the university’s big steps to improve graduation and retention rates. The association noted UT’s innovative approaches that can be modeled and replicated by other universities.

Martin said she is grateful to have worked with many talented professionals who helped improve the undergraduate and graduate student experience.

“I look forward to returning to my starting point at UT, the Department of Classics, to re-establish the connection with teaching and research that I have really missed,” she said.

Born and raised in Berkeley, California, Martin joined the faculty in 1981. A scholar of Roman law of the classical period, she has two bachelor’s degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s and doctorate from the University of Michigan.

Mic/Nite 2016

Join Us for Mic/Nite on March 10

An evening for faculty and staff.

Join us for Mic/Nite—a social gathering featuring 11 short, engaging presentations given by faculty colleagues.

Thursday, March 10

Social hour: 5:30 p.m.
Program: 6:30–8:30 p.m.

The Relix Variety Theatre
1208 North Central Street


  • Free admission
  • Cash bar
  • Free pizza
  • Door prizes

Parking is available behind Relix on Anderson Avenue.

Dixie Thompson Named Vice Provost, Dean of Graduate School

Dear colleagues,

Dixie Thompson

Dixie Thompson

I’m pleased to tell you that Dixie L. Thompson, associate dean for research and academic affairs in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, has been named vice provost and dean of the Graduate School.

She will take the post on April 1.

As vice provost and dean of the Graduate School, Dixie will oversee all aspects of graduate education here and at the UT Space Institute.

Dixie has a wealth of leadership experience and will offer a fresh perspective on how we recruit diverse and exceptional graduate students and provide a quality experience for them. As we complete the update of our strategic plan, Vol Vision 2020, we will rely on Dixie to help us define measures of excellence in graduate education, improve services for graduate students, and develop strategies to grow our graduate program.

A faculty member at UT since 1994, Dixie is a professor in the Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies and served as the department head from 2008 until 2012.

Dixie has a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a master’s degree in exercise physiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a doctorate in exercise physiology from the University of Virginia. She attended the 2008 HERS Summer Institute at Bryn Mawr College for intensive leadership training in higher education administration and participated in the 2009–2010 Southeastern Conference Academic Leadership Development Program. She is a fellow and board of trustees member of the American College of Sports Medicine and a fellow of the National Academy of Kinesiology.

I want to thank Mary Albrecht, associate provost for accreditation, who served as interim vice provost and dean of the Graduate School after Carolyn Hodges left the post on January 1 to return to the Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures faculty. I also want to thank the search committee, led by Tami Wyatt, professor and assistant dean of graduate programs in the College of Nursing, for its fine work in helping us fill this position in a timely manner.

Please join me in congratulating Dixie and welcoming her to this new challenge.


Susan D. Martin
Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor

Faculty Appreciation Week graphic

Faculty Appreciation Week is February 22–28

During this year’s Faculty Appreciation Week, February 22 to 28, we’ll keep Experience Learning in the forefront as we recognize some of the many ways our faculty are “Going the Extra Mile” in their teaching, research, and outreach.

Here’s a look at the activities planned for the week:

  • Monday, February 22—Experience Learning lunch and poster session, 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Stokely Hospitality Suite (Room 501), Haslam Business Building. Register for this free event, which will feature presentations by two faculty members actively involved in experiential learning projects.
  • Wednesday, February 24—Gallery of Excellence and Reception, 4:30 to 6:00 p.m., Frieson Black Cultural Center. Plan to attend this exposition of diversity-related research, hosted by the Office for Diversity and Inclusion and co-sponsored by the Office of Research and Engagement and the Office of the Provost. Refreshments and door prizes will be provided.
  • Thursday, February 25—Faculty Pub, 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., West Club of Neyland Stadium. All faculty (i.e., tenured, tenure-track, non-tenure-track, and retired) are invited to join us for free appetizers, a cash bar, and networking. Enter the stadium at Gate 19 for easiest access. Limited parking will be available for vehicles with a current UT parking permit in Lot 9 on Phillip Fulmer Way beginning at 5:00 p.m. (after regular business hours). RSVP by Monday, February 22.
  • Friday, February 26—Experience Learning breakfast, 8:00 a.m., Frieson Black Cultural Center. Register for this free roundtable breakfast where you can hear from colleagues and students already involved in Experience Learning projects.

You can also get discounted tickets for the men’s basketball game vs. Arkansas on Saturday, February 27, and the Lady Vols basketball game vs. Georgia on Sunday, February 28. Enter the promo code VOLS4UTK at to get $15 100-level seats and $7 300-level seats.

Watch Tennessee Today for stories about selected faculty members from each college, more information about special events and discounts, and our popular “shout out” feature where the university community is invited to leave kudos for faculty who have gone the extra mile for them.

Faculty pub graphic

Faculty Pub Returns on February 25

Getting to know your fellow faculty members is both enjoyable and a great way to grow professionally. That’s the concept behind Faculty Pub, a casual monthly gathering for tenured, tenure-track, non-tenure-track, and retired faculty.

We’re pleased to open our spring semester Faculty Pub series on Thursday, February 25, during Faculty Appreciation Week. Please join us from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the West Club of Neyland Stadium for free appetizers and a cash bar. For easiest access, enter the stadium at Gate 19. Limited parking will be available for vehicles with a UT parking tag in Lot 9 on Phillip Fulmer Way beginning at 5:00 p.m.

Mark your calendar for the other Faculty Pubs, on March 24 and April 28. They are also scheduled from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the West Club of Neyland Stadium.

Faculty Pub has been around for more than four years, so we distributed a survey last semester to all faculty to re-evaluate our efforts. We wanted to make sure Faculty Pub was something you valued and wanted us to continue.

Your response was overwhelming, with more than 425 of you taking time to give us feedback.

Based on the feedback we received, we have made the following changes to maximize faculty members’ opportunity to participate:

  • We’ll focus on food and networking. Eighty percent of those who have attended a previous pub and 89 percent of those who plan to attend for the first time noted that the opportunity to meet with faculty from across campus was the pub’s most appealing feature. Incorporating entertainment or other forms of programming was of least importance to all groups who responded.
  • Another factor of critical importance was that the pub be held in a convenient location. As a result, this event will now be hosted in the West Club of Neyland Stadium, a beautiful space that is centrally located on the main campus with available parking nearby.
  • The pub will be held from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of the month this semester. While not ideal for everyone, this schedule resulted from 73 percent of responses requesting one meeting per month, 60 percent noting that Thursday was the best day of the week for this event, and 95 percent requesting a time that included the hours of 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. We elected to keep our starting time at 4:00 p.m. to accommodate a significant number of faculty who said they wanted to participate but had family or work obligations after 5:00 p.m.

We look forward to seeing you at the Faculty Pub! To allow us to make appropriate preparations, RSVP by Monday, February 22.

Photo of faculty working in lab

ELEMENTS Helps Track Instructional, Professional Work

Faculty members are already using ELEMENTS to track their scholarly publications and teaching accomplishments.

Soon we’ll be adding more modules to this faculty activity reporting system. Once it’s fully implemented, it will provide you with a comprehensive picture of your professional life. In the near future, ELEMENTS will help you produce your annual activity report, and it will give department heads an efficient way to provide data for academic program reviews and annual planning documents.

At this point, all Knoxville instructional faculty, including faculty at UT Space Institute, have profiles in ELEMENTS that contain their publications and information about the courses they are teaching. Log in to ELEMENTS to check your profile.

The publication data imports from several different commercial databases. When a new publication is imported into your profile, the system sends you an e-mail, asking you to log in to the system and claim or reject the pending publication. You can also enter publications yourself.

Teaching data is imported directly from Banner into your profile. You may wish to confirm the accuracy of the data, but no action is necessary.

This month, we are adding new data fields in the teaching module that will let you record instructional activities not captured in the Banner feed, such as teaching awards, instructional or pedagogical grants, research supervision, and other activities. We’re also adding a professional activities module that will allow you to record institutional, disciplinary, and professional service as well as other activities.

By late summer, OIT will have designed a form that will let you produce an activity report for your annual performance review.

Once the new End-of-Course (EOC) surveys are fully implemented, OIT will work with the Faculty Senate and the Office of the Provost to identify data from the EOC to be imported into your profile.

OIT also will work with the Office of Research and Engagement to import sponsored research information from Cayuse SP.

Look for more announcements about ELEMENTS, including a web page designed to assist you in getting the most out of your profile, in the months ahead.

For more information about elements, contact John Zomchick, vice provost for faculty affairs, at 974-6152 or


Experience Learning: Answering Your Basic Questions

Our Experience Learning initiative is off to a fine start, and we’re hearing plenty of questions from faculty who are interested but not quite sure how to participate.

We aim for Experience Learning to transform academic life on our campus, providing exciting teaching and learning opportunities for students and faculty. We expect to see the benefits reflected in our retention and graduation rates too.

Christopher Lavan

Christopher Lavan

Experience Learning Director Christopher Lavan joined us in January.

He and Matthew Theriot, associate provost for teaching and learning innovation, will work with the staff of our Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center and Office of Service-Learning to guide the initiative and help faculty discover ways to incorporate Experience Learning into the courses they teach.

Here, Christopher and Matthew answer some of the common questions we hear about Experience Learning:

What is Experience Learning?

Experience Learning is based on the educational approach known as experiential learning—allowing students to learn by doing and by solving problems. It was developed as our new Quality Enhancement Plan, a critical part of our reaccreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Much experiential learning is already taking place in classrooms and laboratories across our campus. We want to learn more about the work already taking place, look for ways to support it, and encourage more faculty to incorporate these types of activities into their coursework.

What types of activities are considered experiential learning?

Experiential learning can take many forms and fit into almost any discipline.

Some fields of study lend themselves to apprenticeships, clinical experiences, or field work. Many students can further their knowledge and prepare for the workforce through internships, practicum placements, student teaching, or service-learning. Some instructors use simulations, gaming, or role-playing to reinforce concepts. Undergraduate research, study abroad, and volunteering are also forms of experiential learning.

How do I know if my classroom project fits the definition of Experience Learning?

We’ve defined four broad learning outcomes for Experience Learning:

  • Students are engaged in the learning process and develop a desire to be lifelong learners.
  • Students use their knowledge, values, and skills to solve real-world problems.
  • Students work collaboratively with others.
  • As part of the process, students engage in structured reflection—thinking critically about what they’re doing and how they might do it better.

How does this type of learning benefit students?

Hands-on learning is fun and engaging. It allows classroom lessons to take hold and sink in. It can help us hook students on learning.

Research shows that students who are excited about their course work tend to do better in their classes, have greater self-esteem, stay in school, and graduate. They’re more apt to become critical thinkers and lifelong learners. And, with the real-world experiences they gain, they leave college more prepared for the job market and are more attractive to employers.

What’s in it for me?

As faculty members, we teach because we want to see students learn. Through Experience Learning, we see our students test concepts, grasp understanding, and develop original thoughts, which is extremely rewarding.

Will it mean more work?

There is some added work involved any time you try something new or change the approach to what you’re doing. Often the biggest commitment comes in planning and laying the groundwork for the projects your students will undertake. Once you’ve developed the structure for students, you step into more of a coaching role, advising students as they work and helping them process the lessons they are learning.

How can I learn more about adding Experience Learning into my courses?

Our Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center has offered a variety of workshops and programs about Experience Learning.

Currently, you can sign up for a two-hour workshop, “Collaborating in the Classroom,” which will be offered on March 9 and 10. Other Experience Learning workshops and programming will be announced soon. The TennTLC staff can also schedule consultations and mentoring sessions to help you get started. We will be offering teaching grants, faculty development programs, and many other resources to help you design or redesign a course.

For more details, contact Christopher at or 865-974-3867 or TennTLC Director Taimi Olsen at or 865-974-3933.

Photo of Torchbearer's torch

Feedback Helps Finalize Vol Vision 2020

There are many great colleges and universities in America—so what makes UT special?

That was a key question our Milestone Review Committee asked as it sought feedback for Vol Vision 2020, the refreshed version of our strategic plan.

One year ago, as we marked the five-year point of Vol Vision, I convened a Milestone Review Committee to oversee an update of the plan for the next phase of our Top 25 journey. Led by Steven Smith, dean of UT Libraries, the committee began working in February 2015 by doing an intense review and analysis of the progress we’ve made so far. Around August, they began the second phase, which involved discussions with dozens of stakeholder groups, and let them hear from more than 1,400 people—staff, students, parents, alumni, community members, and others.

This feedback helped us focus on issues we need to improve in our five priority areas and underscored the need for a sixth priority—diversity and inclusion.

“Campus stakeholders also frequently noted the importance of the Volunteer family,” Smith said. “There’s a Volunteer spirit that extends across students, alumni, faculty, staff, and supporters. Reinforcing a strong sense of community and collegiality is essential to the next phase of our journey.

These are attributes that help us attract the best students, faculty, and staff, and they also give us the motivation and energy we need to innovate and improve.

Several themes came up repeatedly:

  • UT is in the unique position of being both a flagship and land-grant university. We value a comprehensive education and believe access and engagement are part of our mission.
  • We offer academic and research excellence. We employ nationally and internationally respected scholars. Our partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in addition to other government, corporate, and nonprofit entities, provides unique opportunities for research and academic collaborations.
  • We are a great educational value. Our students get a quality education with a wide variety of opportunities and experiences at a good price. Our students’ debt load is lower than the national average.
  • Alumni connections are important to our students. We have more than 200,000 Volunteers across the globe, and students understand the value of being part of this network.
  • We should do more to enjoy and promote our locale. The Knoxville region is rich in culture and has a healthy economic base. We’re an “urban wilderness” in the shadows of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Here’s what you said about the work that still needs to be done in our five original priority areas:

  • Undergraduate Education—We need to improve advising and do a better job connecting students to campus early in their college careers. We need to increase the diversity of the student body and offer students more experiential learning and mentoring opportunities. We must remain affordable.
  • Graduate Education—We need to enhance our focus on quality graduate education. We need to find a way to provide financial support packages competitive with peers’, recruit exceptional students, and boost diversity and international enrollment.
  • Faculty and Staff—We need to continue addressing the salary gap, improving professional development, and increasing diversity. We need to focus on staff excellence as well as faculty excellence.
  • Research and Engagement—We need to recognize faculty contributions beyond sponsored research and include accomplishments in scholarly output, creative activity, and engagement.
  • Resources and Infrastructure—We need to continue our campus transformation and emphasize sustainability. Improvements are needed in parking and dining strategies. We also need to continue our work on information systems and access to data.

The Milestone Review Committee is now working closely with vice chancellors and deans to finalize the Vol Vision 2020 report, which will be presented to the Board of Trustees in March. Once approved, Vol Vision 2020 will be rolled out to the campus community.

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