KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The annual Tennessee Technology Summit has honored University of Tennessee President Joe Johnson, who is retiring July 31 after more than 38 years with the university.
Calling him a “servant leader,” retired U.S. Sen. Howard Baker praised Johnson for his unique style of personal leadership, which has brought the school increasing prestige in scientific and technical arenas.
“Joe is completing a 38-year journey, and during that time he has come to know the University of Tennessee perhaps as well as, and maybe even better than, anyone has ever known the University of Tennessee,” Baker said.
On behalf of the conference, Baker gave Johnson a sculpture of an iris, the Tennessee state flower.
“Joe has dreamed his dreams and made his plans for 38 years, and those dreams and plans are now part of the tradition of the University of Tennessee and will be for generations to come,” Baker said.
Johnson said he is happy UT has forged closer relationships with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and other science-and-technology-driven activities in the region.
“All of us should encourage and be supportive of a whole range of educational opportunities available to our young people,” Johnson said, citing educational institutions ranging from public schools to the various state universities and technical schools.
Rep. John Duncan Jr. praised Johnson as “an academic who has not sequestered himself in an ivory tower.”
The summit was a first-time blending of two annual conferences: the WATTec conference on technology sponsored for 26 years by East Tennessee scientific and technical groups and the Economic Summit, a conference on economic development founded by U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp of Chattanooga.