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Fall Updates from the Dean


We are at the half-way point of the semester as fall descends on East Tennessee. The colors are popping from the oak and maples trees across campus and our UT Volunteer football team is enjoying an undefeated season for the first time in more than two decades. It’s great to be a Tennessee Vol y’all!

In this edition of Dialogue, I have a couple of important reminders.


Faculty Engagement Expectations

As we prepare for the end of the semester, I would like to address some ongoing questions and confusion about winter break and when faculty should expect to be available. As questions came in about expectations for faculty engagement during the extended period between the end of the fall semester and the beginning of the spring semester, the Provost’s office drafted the following statement:

Nine-month faculty are expected to work 39 weeks over the academic year. This is equal to 9/12ths of a 52-week calendar year. Appointments begin August 1 and conclude at the end of the spring semester, with a three-week break spanning December and January, inclusive of university closures.

Since there are five full weeks between winter graduation and the first day of the spring term, departments can decide whether faculty will participate in service after the end of the fall semester and/or before the beginning of the spring semester. For example, it is reasonable to expect faculty to be back on campus by January 9, 2023, to work on graduate student decisions, hiring decision, visits by job candidates, etc., if that is when they are needed.

Grant Proposal Deadlines

Next, I want to remind everyone about the importance of the new policy for proposal submission deadlines as outlined here on the ORIED website. The proposal deadline of five business days before the submission has been in place for many years, but expectations of what was due were unclear. The new policy, which goes into effect November 1, makes it clear that staff in the Division of Research Administration expect a complete proposal by the five-day deadline – not just a draft budget and proposal outline. This small shift in time is long overdue, but it is a big help to making sure the grant meets expectations while allowing staff to have a reasonable work/life balance. Additionally, careful data planning and excellent writing is what makes a grant successful. If you wait until the last-minute to submit a grant, the likelihood of it getting funded is very small.

Speaking of proposals, I would like to thank all the faculty who worked on creating cluster proposals across departments and colleges. Of the 10 finalists, eight proposals included departments from our college. Regardless of which ones make it to the final stage, there are some wonderful ideas to pursue. I really appreciate the work many of you put into these proposals.

Campus Chest

A quick reminder about the UT Campus Chest Campaign, which ends Friday, November 4. This campaign gets at the heart of what it means to be a Volunteer and focuses attention on the health and social services needs of East Tennessee communities. Giving opportunities range from independent regional agencies to member agencies of Community Shares and United Way of Greater Knoxville. Learn more about the campaign online at

Change in College Structure

Finally, in case you have not seen the many messages reporting on a change in the college structure, let me summarize. The Chancellor has proposed to create a School (College) of Music that is separate from the College of Arts and Sciences. The music faculty voted to pursue that possibility, which must be approved by the Board of Trustees.

The remainder of the college will remain intact, but organized around three broad divisions:

  • Arts and Humanities
  • Social Sciences
  • Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Each division will be led by a divisional dean who will report to the executive dean. The divisional deans will assist with the management of the college, which, in my opinion, will be very helpful as the workload at the college level – particularly for managing hiring, retentions, promotions, etc., – has become too much work for one associate dean. More information about the entire academic restructuring initiative is available here on the Chancellor’s website.

Last week, Provost Zomchick named RJ Hinde as interim executive dean for the college. Hinde, vice provost for academic affairs and professor of chemistry, will begin his appointment November 1, but focus only on the implementation of the new divisional structure to be launched in July 2023. He will lead discussions within the college on the job descriptions and run the internal search. I will remain dean and run the college as it exists now until I step down June 30, 2023.

Thank you for all you do for your units, our college, and the university.

Theresa M. Lee
Herbert Family Dean
College of Arts and Sciences