Time for Optimism, Shumaker Says

KNOXVILLE — UT President John W. Shumaker told faculty recently there is renewed interest in the university across the state and this should be a time for optimism.

In a “state of the university” address to the Faculty Senate, Shumaker said UT “survived the test of the state shutdown” and that the institution is in good shape compared to cuts universities in other states have suffered.

“Now that the budget issues have been resolved, at least for a while, I hope we can move forward with a sense of optimism, with a sense of renewed hope and a sense of real aggressive entrepreneurship,” he said.

“The people of the state have high hopes for the university.”

He said his administration has four themes: putting students and faculty first; openness and sharing information with the university community; being more accountable; and “bureaucracy busting” or improving and simplifying procedures.

While acknowledging that the faculty always puts top priority on students, Shumaker said “in an organization this large, it is good to remind ourselves of the fact that the students are why we are here.”

The president said state legislators have told him they want more information on how UT spends its money.

“They want us to be able and willing to entertain their questions on how we spend our money,” Shumaker said. “There is some suspicion that there is bureaucratic bloat in the system. There is always room to streamline, to simplify the way the university does its business.”

He asked the Faculty Senate for a formal recommendation on reestablishing the position of chancellor at Knoxville. Provost Loren Crabtree has been mentioned as a strong possibility for the job.

Crabtree said in a “state of the campus” address at Monday’s senate meeting that the main campus in Knoxville is strong and “in hot pursuit of excellence.”

During tough budget years and through recent controversy, faculty and staff continued to do their jobs and do them well, Crabtree said.