Statewide Forums Highlight Presidential Qualities

KNOXVILLE — Integrity, understanding and love for the university are among the qualities Tennesseans want in the next president of the University of Tennessee, a search official says.

Members of the UT presidential search committee and the search advisory council recently traveled around the state of Tennessee, holding open forums in Knoxville, Chattanooga, Nashville, Tullahoma, Memphis and Martin.

Dr. Margaret Perry, chancellor-emeritus of UT-Martin and the executive director of the presidential search, said the turnout was good among students, faculty, staff, alumni and the general public.

“People have told me that it’s been good for them to have a chance to speak to the committees and have their voices heard about what’s important to them,” Perry said.

“One of the qualities people say they want in the next president is love for the university.”

Perry said all participants want the next university president to have a high level of personal and professional integrity and to understand the UT system.

“Integrity has been mentioned in every forum,” Perry said. “There’s also been a lot of comment about the president being the president of the system and paying attention to all the different campuses and parts of the university.”

In addition to attending one of the forums in person, viewers could also see most of the meetings on the Internet.

Perry said the forums are part of increasing the openness of the search effort.

“We’re trying to emphasize the openness of the process to get input early and have conversations with people before we get to the end when there’s not much time to do that kind of thing,” Perry said.

“We intend to continue that openness through the interview process. When candidates are interviewed anyone may attend and listen to what’s going on.”

Perry said she welcomes input from the public at http://pr.tennessee.edu/presidentialsearch/, the search process’s official Web site. Visitors can e-mail their comments and read the latest news updates in the search effort.