UT Board Welcomes Shumaker, Approves Stadium Gift

CHATTANOOGA — The University of Tennessee’s president designate said Thursday that he is making the transition to his new position.

Dr. John W. Shumaker, speaking before UT’s Board of Trustees, said he has spent recent weeks visiting UT campuses, speaking with government officials and other leaders across the state and studying the UT system.

“I’ve begun looking at some background materials and meeting with individuals around the state, especially in Nashville,” Shumaker said. “I think that study period will go on for couple more weeks and then we will begin to work on more specific options and proposals for the actual transition itself.

“I’ve had a chance to visit with the Tennessee Business Roundtable, meet with Speaker of the House and the governor.

“So in the next few months it’s my expectation as the transition momentum gathers to make more sustained visits to each campus, to have more briefings with chancellors and other key individuals, and continue to examine the various components of the interworkings of this wonderful university system.”

Shumaker comes to UT after serving as University of Louisville president since 1995.

The board on March 5 unanimously approved the recommendation of its 10-member Search Committee to make Shumaker the university’s 21st chief executive officer.

UT’s presidential search timeline calls for the new president to be in office by July 15, but Shumaker has indicated he could begin by mid-June.

In other action, the board approved a resolution to accept a deed from Chattanooga and Hamilton County conveying the Engel Stadium Complex to UTC.

UT Acting President Eli Fly said the stadium tract includes about 13 acres that could be turned into a track, soccer fields, golf practice areas and fitness-related facilities. Other ideas include development of a wellness center and renovation of Engel Stadium, Fly said.

The city and county in February approved selling the stadium, longtime home of Chattanooga minor league baseball, to UTC for $1.

The facility is named for the late Joe Engel, a major league pitcher who became the Chattanooga Lookouts’ general manager in 1929. The team now plays in downtown Chattanooga’s BellSouth Park.

The board also approved a resolution endorsing the Howard H. Baker Center for Public Policy at UT’s Knoxville campus.

Baker, a 1949 UT law graduate, is U.S. Ambassador to Japan. He is a former Senate Majority Leader and served as chief of staff for President Ronald Reagan.

Dr. Loren Crabtree, Provost at UT-s Knoxville campus, said the center would explore the media’s role in politics, the U.S. electoral system and public involvement in government.

Congress last August approved a $6 million grant to help establish the center. UT will seek other funds for the center’s endowment and for renovation of space on campus to house it, Crabtree said.