The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, welcomed Jimmy G. Cheek as its seventh chancellor Friday during an investiture ceremony held in his honor.
The event, held to formally acknowledge Cheek’s new role, in which he has been serving since Feb. 1, also provided an opportunity for Cheek to lay out his vision for UT Knoxville to an audience comprising trustees, faculty, staff, students, alumni and representatives of government and other institutions of higher education.
“As educators, it’s our job to help students create their dreams, and give them the tools to reach those dreams,” said Cheek. “We must provide the tools, both socially and intellectually, to help them become productive citizens. I don’t believe there is anything greater that we can do for our students than to help them realize their dreams, equip them to change the world, and motivate them to serve others.”
In his talk, Cheek laid out his priorities for the campus, including enhancing the educational experience of undergraduate, graduate and professional students, enhancing outreach and research, increasing diversity, building collaborative relationships, placing more emphasis on sustainability and globalization and attracting and retaining top faculty.
An investiture is a traditional academic ceremony held to formally recognize the appointment of a new chief executive sometime after he or she has taken office. It serves as an alternative to a multi-day inauguration that would be held when a chancellor or president first assumes the role.
During the ceremony, acting UT President Jan Simek presented Cheek with the Chancellor’s Medallion, which was designed in 1994 for the investiture of Chancellor William “Bill” Snyder during the university’s bicentennial.
Formal greetings were offered at the event from the trustees, alumni, faculty and students of UT Knoxville, as well as from U.S. Sen. Bob Corker and representatives of the University of Florida, where Cheek served as a faculty member and administrator for 33 years.
Cheek has shown a lifelong commitment to learning. Much of his research has focused on education and learning, and he has authored or co-authored nearly 200 publications.
“I am a first generation college graduate,” said Cheek. “My education changed my life and instilled in me a lifelong love of learning and the passion to pass it on, and that’s why I chose to become a professor.”
More information about the investiture ceremony, including the complete text of Chancellor Cheek’s address can be found online at http://chancellor.utk.edu/investiture/.