Present and Future

UT Board Approves Appointment of Chancellor Steve J. Schwab

Knoxville (June 24, 2010) - Gov. Phil Bredesen, chairman of the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees, charged trustees and the university with hiring a president who will lead UT through a new era of great opportunities as it faces unprecedented budgetary challenges.

Bredesen attended the board's annual meeting in Knoxville today, as trustees continued the search process by appointing a search committee: .

"If there is any responsibility that any board of trustees has, picking the CEO has to be at the top of the list, always," Bredesen said, as he suggested that the next leader's attributes be measured against the ambitious vision for the future of the university.

Bredesen also spoke of his efforts to advance education in the state, noting his pride in Tennessee being one of the first two states to win the Race to the Top federal funding for K-12. He noted this year's special legislative session on education which made changes to improve student retention and the graduation rates of Tennessee's students.

During that January session, Bredesen challenged UT Knoxville to become a Top 25 institution in the next 10 years.

The governor told the board today that it will take a "laser-like" focus to accomplish the goal, noting that trustees must stay engaged so it will advance.

UT Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek provided an update about the challenge by sharing an initial task force report that compares the university to the nation's top-ranked public research universities. See the presentation at

Cheek shared the good news about the quality of UT Knoxville's students, who are competitive with those at many Top 25 institutions. In most other key measures, however, the university faces challenges with improving student retention rates, graduation rates, awarding of doctorate degrees, faculty salaries and annual research expenditures.

"If we can make progress, we can improve the quality of our institution, our service to the state and our service to our students," Cheek said.

"It's an ambitious plan, but one we are committed to achieve, and one that we will pursue with abandon. But the journey that we take is more important than achieving the goal," he said.

UT Knoxville currently ranks 52nd among public research universities, as measured by U.S. News and World Report.

The next steps will involve creating action and financial plans, which Cheek intends to share with the board at its October meeting.

In other business, the board: