By Gabrielle Chevalier, Chattanooga, TN–Recent administrative changes have left several important positions to be filled during the 2012–2013 academic year.
Among those who have accepted positions at other universities are: former Provost Phil Oldham, former Vice Chancellor for University advancement Bob Lyon and former Athletic Director Rick Hart.
Herbert Burhenn, former dean of arts and sciences, also retired from his position after leaders selected his replacement over the summer. He announced his intentions to step down last year.
Perhaps the most notable of the changes is the retirement of Chancellor Roger Brown, which will happen toward the end of next semester after his replacement has been chosen, University spokesman Chuck Cantrell said.
“I think that it is fair to say that the death of his wife obviously would affect anyone very much, and she was just such an intergral part of his job here,” Cantrell said. “They really worked very much as a team, and her loss just changed the complexion of the job for him. And, he’ll just say, as much as he loves it, it just isn’t as much fun.”
Originally, the chancellor had planned to retire after this academic year, even before the passing of his wife, Carolyn Thompson, in March.
Cantrell said Brown has offered to extend his stay if a replacement is not found in time, to ensure a smooth transition.
“In Rick’s case and Bob’s case and Phil’s case, they were just all already in a search and just happened to get the jobs at the same time… They’ve all gotten either promotions or significantly bigger programs,” he said.
All newly vacant positions have an interim person working to keep the office opperating efficiently, Cantrell said.
In addition to the departures, there is also the addition of Jeff Elwell, the new dean of arts and sciences.
Elwell said his focus is on how to best meet the needs of the students while the University continues its growth trajectory.
One way he is considering doing this is with the addition of online courses in departments who express an interest for them. He said this will help alleviate some of the difficulties with registration for lower level classes, which often do not have the space to match the interest of the students.
“As a dean, you are an administrator, which means you are responsible for budgets and curriculums, but you also need to be someone looking at ‘what can we be’ in regards to strengths and opportunities but also weaknesses,” Elwell said.
Overall, Cantrell said, the leadership changes will not drastically influence the direction the University is going. He said the selection committees for each position are most concerned with finding replacements whose visions align with the goals in place.
“I think what it really says is that the leadership team here at UTC has built a really strong campus, a campus that attracks strong faculty and administration,” Cantrell said in regards to administration leaving after being selected for other high level positions. “It is an indication of how good we really are, and there is no reason to think that we are not going to continue on that same trajectory.”