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Academic Structure: Working Group Updates

In May 2021, Chancellor Donde Plowman announced that a working group has been created to examine the current organization of our academic colleges. This move is to ensure that we have the best structure in place to support the goals in UT Knoxvile’s draft strategic vision and carry the university into the future. Click here for information on the group’s charge and membership.

Updates from the working group will be posted on this webpage. The working group is scheduled to deliver its recommendations to the Chancellor on September 30, 2021.


November 2021

The Academic Organization Review Working Group’s report represents the collective efforts by 20 faculty members to reimagine our structures to build on our strengths and advance our shared vision in the strategic plan. The next step will be a period of campus engagement to evaluate and discuss the ideas in the report.

August 2021

We hope everyone has had a great summer!

The Academic Organization Review Working Group has been busy this summer. But first, a quick review: On May 14, 2021, Chancellor Plowman emailed the campus community to share that a working group has been formed to take a high-level look at our academic organization, which is comprised of representatives from each college. We met for the first time on May 17 and have been working together throughout the summer.

Our work continues to be guided by five guiding principles:

  1. Creating a strong, coherent sense of identity, community, and focus through disciplinary alignment that enhances a sense of belonging for students, faculty, and staff
  2. Fostering interdisciplinary collaboration
  3. Allowing for agility and effective self-governance in curriculum revision and program creation
  4. Enabling greater college control over resource generation and allocation; and
  5. Empowering colleges to innovate in order to accomplish the five goals in the strategic vision

Our meetings have been filled with data to review, ideas to be challenged, and possibilities to be carefully considered. We have:

  • reviewed the university’s successes and challenges
  • learned what is projected for the future of higher education
  • explored our current colleges and considered the opportunities and obstacles they must address.
  • considered organizational structures of peer and aspirational universities
  • developed approaches for understanding our structure and the value it brings to the UT community and providing creative ideas to improve what we can achieve as scholars, teachers, and vibrant community members.

Our next step is to consider how our current organizational structure meets the five principles and imagine how we might fine-tune our organization to do an even better job of meeting those principles. When our work is done, it will serve as a starting point for all of you, the university community, to share your ideas as well. We wish everyone a wonderful start to the new semester!

June 2021

The group met with Chancellor Plowman and Provost Zomchick on May 17, 2021 to kick off the initiative.  Since then, the group has met three times.  Bi-weekly meetings are scheduled through September 2021.

Preliminary efforts have focused on the following activities:

  • Confirm the process and approach to guide the review
  • Establish an informed understanding of the current situation
  • Understand future needs and implications of UTK’s strategic direction
  • Identify opportunities for organizational development and improvement
  • Evaluate current roadblocks and challenges to progress

The group will continue to focus on these topics through July.

To promote collaboration and different perspectives at this early stage, faculty and staff are invited to submit ideas for the group via the following link.

A more structured plan for stakeholder engagement will be shared with the community in the future.