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The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
College of Arts & Sciences
Photo of Dean Lee

December 2, 2013

Greetings, Faculty and Staff,

We’re almost to the finish line of fall term! Two happy events are ahead of us before winter break: Winter Convocation and Fall Commencement.

Winter Convocation—a Celebration of the Faculty—will be held in the Natalie L. Haslam Music Center on Wednesday, December 4, from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. A reception with heavy hors d’oeuvres and music by the Boling, Brown, and Holloway Jazz Trio will begin at 3:30 p.m., followed by a brief presentation of college awards beginning at 4:15 p.m. I hope to greet many of you there for this special occasion honoring faculty who have won awards this year and those who have earned promotion and tenure.

Some of you will be joining me for the Graduate Hooding Ceremony on Thursday, December 12 and the Commencement Ceremony on Friday, December 13.

As the semester comes to a close, I wish to share with you some good news and announcements.

Good News

School of Art Diversity Committee: Making a Difference for Diversity!

Kudos to the School of Art for establishing a Diversity Committee in support of the campus diversity and inclusion initiative! The committee’s work is already producing positive results. Dottie Habel, director of the School of Art and the school’s first female director, led the way by establishing a departmental diversity committee comprised of faculty and students with a charge to create and implement a variety of diversity initiatives that positively affect faculty, staff, and students. The committee is focusing this year on diversity training programs for faculty, graduate instructors, and staff in order to create and maintain an inclusive and safe community. The Diversity Committee sees this training as a vehicle for increasing diversity during the recruitment of faculty and graduate students, which will ultimately lead to recruitment and retention of a more diverse undergraduate population.

The School's Statement on Diversity says it all: “The School of Art recognizes the immeasurable contribution of diversity to the arts and seeks in its programming and activities to incorporate diverse perspectives from the rich panoply that is the human race. Furthermore, we assume our responsibility to ensure a welcoming and conscientious environment for everyone without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, pregnancy, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, physical or mental disability, or veteran status.”

Graduate Recruitment Pipeline Initiative

We are pleased to announce the “Graduate Recruitment Pipeline” initiative, which is intended to promote enduring partnerships between UT faculty and their counterparts at undergraduate programs likely to be a source of diverse applicants to our graduate programs. The initiative will support travel for UT faculty members to make an annual trip to the same institution to recruit graduate applicants and develop an ongoing collaboration with a local faculty partner. The initiative will also support travel for a UT graduate student from the same unit to assist recruitment efforts. UT partners may provide a guest lecture, meet informally with students, engage in more formal recruitment fairs, or discuss potential research collaboration with their counterparts. The specific activities are up to the partners to arrange. Faculty who are interested in developing a “pipeline partnership” should contact Associate Dean Brent Mallinckrodt, who will be working closely with Graduate School Assistant Dean Ernest Brothers to assist faculty who have not yet identified a potential contact.

The recruitment experiences at many Top 25 institutions suggest that outreach to develop ongoing faculty-to-faculty connections like these requires an investment of time to develop, but the institutions are rewarded with increased numbers of diverse applicants who are well-matched to the strengths of a particular graduate program. These collaborations can also be quite professionally rewarding for both members of a pipeline partnership. I am very pleased that several college units have taken advantage of this initiative within days of the announcement this past month. I encourage any faculty members who are interested to contact Associate Dean Mallinckrodt by e-mail at bmallinc@utk.edu.

UT Continues Upward Trajectory in the Number of NEH Fellowships

The latest data posted on the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) website ranking leading research universities, based on the number of NEH fellowships awarded, places UT in a three-way tie with Cornell and Stanford for tenth place (thirteenth overall).

Congratulations to our faculty in the humanities whose scholarship has contributed to this success. And thanks to Alan Rutenberg (Office of Research Administration) for his expert advice and guidance to faculty as they submit applications. It’s noteworthy that during the time he has supervised NEH fellowship applications (2005–2013), the comparison between UT and the Top 25 private and public research universities would be even more favorable: UT would rank seventh, tied with Vanderbilt and Virginia and behind only six other schools.


Fire Drills

Starting soon and continuing through the spring semester, fire drills are planned for many, if not all, buildings that house Arts and Sciences faculty, staff, or students. The purpose of such drills is to train people in how to respond, so that if a true emergency arises, building occupants will know what to do. The drills will be on Wednesday mornings, and they will be announced ahead of time. The prior warning will allow people who run experiments or other processes that cannot be interrupted to schedule around the drill. Drills scheduled for early December will not take place on exam days.

These drills need to be taken seriously. Those of you who have been on campus for a while are likely to remember the fire that gutted part of Dougherty. A few weeks ago, SERF had to be evacuated due to a chemical accident. You have probably heard of emergencies on other campuses that required evacuation. We all need to practice evacuating our buildings rapidly and we need to learn how to help those with impaired mobility. Everyone must leave a building during a drill; it is not acceptable for people to shut their doors and hope they won't be noticed. Chris Boake, associate dean for research and facilities, will attend some drills to help ensure building occupants take the exercise seriously.

Sophomore Step Up

Next semester the college will host a new program called Sophomore Step Up. This student convocation will become an annual event sponsored by the college and will allow second-year students the opportunity to connect to their majors and meet faculty and staff in their departments, while also providing them a feeling of belonging to the college. It is our hope that this event will instill a sense of tradition and encourage continued academic success for our rising juniors as they transition to their new leadership roles in the university.


I would like to hear from you. Please feel free to write to artscidean@utk.edu to respond to this message, to offer your thoughts about the college, and to suggest topics you would like me or others in my office to address.

Thank you for your continued commitment to our college and for the difference each of you makes every day for our students.

Best wishes for a pleasant finish to the semester and a restful and refreshing winter break.

With best regards,

Theresa M. Lee, PhD
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

Save the dates!

  • Event: Sophomore Step Up
    Date: Wednesday, February 5
    Time: 4:00–5:30 p.m.
    Location: Thompson Boling Arena
  • Event: Arts and Sciences Faculty Open Forum with Chancellor and Provost
    Date: Monday, January 27
    Time: 2:30–3:30 p.m.
    Location: University Center Ballroom (Room 213)

The University of Tennessee
College of Arts & Sciences
Office of the Dean
312 Ayres Hall
1403 Circle Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996-1330
Phone: 865-974-5332 | Fax: 865-974-4352
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