UT Trustees Approve Presidential Search Committee

KNOXVILLE — University of Tennessee trustees have voted to accept Gov. Don Sundquist’s recommendation for a special committee to oversee UT’s presidential search.

State Deputy Governor for Policy Justin Wilson told the board that the committee will ensure a proper search under the recent settlement of the state’s Geier desegregation lawsuit.

Sundquist, who also chairs the UT board, will chair the search committee. Other members are trustees Johnnie Amonette of Memphis; John Thornton, Chattanooga; Andrea Loughry, Murfreesboro; Rhynette Hurd, Memphis; Clayton McWhorter, Nashville; James Haslam, Knoxville; and Jerry Jackson, Dyersburg.

Wilson said the committee will appoint an advisory council of students, faculty, staff, alumni and others to assist in the search.

The board also will meet August 1 to consider whether the appointment of UT Acting President Emerson Fly adheres to the Geier agreement, Wilson said.

Fly was appointed June 6 after resignation of former UT President J. Wade Gilley.

“There’s been a lot of talk about how to proceed in the search for a new president of UT, including who should serve as president during that search time,” Wilson said. “As you are aware UT has been involved in litigation known as the Geier lawsuit for more than 30 years. At the heart of this litigation is the allegation the university was not an open institution.

“The governor takes terms of the Geier settlement very seriously. He believes that if this board shows it is proceeding with a certain process that is fair, open and competitive these steps will instill public confidence in the university.”

Wilson said Sundquist hopes to have a permanent president at UT by fall of 2002.

Fly said he is confident that UT will continue to move forward during the search and after the new president is chosen.

“The great thing about a university is that it continues to move along regardless of who is at the helm,” Fly said. “We will continue to teach students, do research and serve the citizens of our state.

“UT is moving ahead. Opportunities for improvement are always there, and we need to look at diversity, instruction and some other areas.
“But UT has been in existence for 207 years, it has continued to improve almost each of those years and we will continue to improve in the future.”

In other business, the board approved:

— A continuation budget for UT, which will maintain revenues at current levels until the General Assembly’s passes a final state budget.

— Use of a discretionary fund to pay former President J. Wade Gilley’s health insurance until he’s eligible for Medicare. Gilley, who is 62 and a diabetic, resigned recently for health and personal reasons.

— $2.6 million for construction of a pedestrian walkway to be known as the Andy Holt Pedestrian Mall as part of the UT campus master plan.