"Last week, I agreed to serve as interim chancellor of the Knoxville campus because of my deep commitment to this institution and to the people that make this such a great university.
"I seek your support in continuing the positive momentum we’ve built over the last few years. Our institution has made great strides in the quality of our students, our faculty and our staff. I made a commitment to President John Petersen that I would do all I could to keep that positive momentum going; and with your help, I’m confident we can together meet that goal.
"Filling Loren Crabtree’s shoes will not be easy. During his seven-year tenure, Dr. Crabtree’s leadership and his inclusive approach to problem solving set a high standard. He provided leadership through several critical years for UT, and we appreciate his contributions and steadfast commitment.
"Like so many of you, I have spent nearly all of my career here. In those 24 years, I have developed a great pride and a passion for UT.
"As Tennessee’s flagship campus, we have an unprecedented level of support and the opportunity to become one of the top public research universities in the nation.
"With your support, this transitional period will provide the stability needed to continue with progress we’ve been making in key areas of student success and access, diversity, global and intercultural awareness and in enhancing the quality of our programs and the student experience.
"President Petersen anticipates naming a search committee within the next two weeks. The process will be both transparent and inclusive. It’s important that you provide your thoughts throughout the search.
"I appreciate faculty and staff and their level of engagement in the principles of shared governance, and I look forward to the months ahead."
A Distinguished Professor of anthropology and former head of the Anthropology Department, Jan Simek has been at UT since 1984 and was appointed Chancellor Loren Crabtree’s chief of staff in 2005. Simek received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Santa Cruz and a master’s degree and doctorate from the State University of New York in Binghamton. He has carried out archaeological research in France, Italy, Croatia, California and Tennessee and has received research funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Geographic Society and the French Ministry of Culture. He has also held visiting faculty appointments at the University of Washington, the University of Bordeaux and the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain. He lives in Seymour with Mary Ann, his wife of 21 years.