Academic Affairs Sets Priorities (530)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Eight areas of research, scholarship, and creative activity at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville have been identified as priority areas for the next five years, a report released Monday says.

The report, from Academic Vice Chancellor John Peters, members of his staff, and 16 academic deans, also identifies 42 academic programs as being the university’s best and recommends that these should get additional money when resources permit and protected when budgets are cut.

 Chancellor Bill Snyder said Monday at a Faculty Senate meeting that the campus community should study the report carefully and comment on it.

 “This report and a companion document on non-academic programs anticipated in the near future represent a watershed in the UTK planning and budgeting process,” Snyder said.

 “We have demonstrated that this campus has taken seriously the expectation of our trustees, state government, and the citizens of Tennessee to focus, set priorities, and make budget allocations supportive of our priorities.”

 The deans spent nine months reviewing all academic programs before writing their report, “Enhancing Academic Quality at UTK.” They established the following priority areas for research, scholarship, and creative activity:

 — Environment, natural resources, and species preservation.

 — Intellectual and cultural expression.

 — Economic development.

 — Health and biomedical sciences.

 — Children and families.

 — Computational and informational sciences.

 — Materials.

 — Ethics and values in the professions.

 Many of the 42 programs recognized as being outstanding contribute to one or more of the focus area.

“This report represents uncounted hours of work and hard-fought compromises,” Peters said. “The program evaluations the deans have made will be an ongoing process.

 “We have many very solid academic programs, and in identifying these 40 programs in no way diminishes other fine offerings. I expect the list of outstanding programs will be reviewed regularly and that other programs will move onto the list.”

 Dean Lorayne W. Lester of the College of Arts and Sciences said, “I’m enormously proud of this effort by faculty, department heads, deans and administrators. It sends a strong message that UTK has the will and the energy to re-consider, re-structure and even re-invent itself in response to changing conditions.”

 Approval of any changes to curricular programs will come through established university procedures, Peters said.

 “This is the first time we have come together collectively to identify priorities and opportunities across colleges at UTK,” said Dr. Jacky DeJonge, who has served as of the dean of College of Human Ecology for 10 years.

 Law Dean Richard Wirtz said, “Universities rise or sink on whether they undertake this kind of evaluation planning. To me, the deans’ work is an encouraging indication that UTK is going to rise.”

 To improve the university’s quality and national visibility, Peters and the deans say more funding is needed for faculty salaries, staff and infrastructure, graduate student support, undergraduate programs, and faculty development.

 Dean C. Warren Neel of the College of Business sees the report as a call to action.

“The challenge now is to continue to move forward with actions that will implement our ideas,” Neel said.

 Peters and the deans say they will use the document when making decisions for next year’s budget. Fiscal 1999 budget planning is underway.

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 Contact: Dr. Bill Snyder (423-974-3288),  Dr. John Peters (423-974-3265)