I am thrilled to have joined the college on Rocky Top this summer, especially at the start of the university’s 225th anniversary. I love that Tennessee is the Volunteer State, and that UT as an institution fully embraces that.
Being the Tennessee Volunteers is a powerful moniker that carries a humbling responsibility of serving others. The 225th theme of “Lighting the Way” is indicative of what our college already does so well—advance society through engaging service projects and life-changing research.
One of my top priorities as dean is to find new and different ways to collaborate and build on our existing body of work. I want to lay the groundwork for a national network of partnerships with universities, industries, and agencies, while at the same time fostering a stronger connection with the local community.
The ever-strengthening ties we have with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Departments of Energy and Defense, among others, have led to our faculty working on breakthrough research with significant impact, in particular in the areas of additive and advanced manufacturing and high-performance computing.
While it is important to have connections and collaborations for research, it goes far beyond that. Connecting our students with real-world projects helps provide context for what is being learned throughout our curriculum, while at the same time helping solve particular problems for our partners.
Businesses and organizations change and evolve over time, but there will always be opportunities and challenges for our students. The opportunities are immense here, and I’d love to see them grow.
Another key priority for me is to be actively involved in ways to increase diversity with both multicultural and female populations. There’s a good base here, but I want to expand that, especially in partnership with our board and with industries.
I want to see a true welcoming environment and a significant growth in respect to diversity, not just in the student population, but with faculty and staff as well. I hope to work to develop new scholarships and programs to help support our efforts to diversify our campus.
I cannot overstate the importance and need for diversity in the work force and in academia.
Solving problems in engineering frequently requires multiple disciplines with many viewpoints, and diversity can help deliver different ideas in those situations due to different perspectives being brought to the table.
The ability to enable others is my passion. When good ideas resonate, that’s exciting. Whether it’s an idea I’ve had or an idea someone else brings to me doesn’t matter. It’s about creating an enabled, connected, passionate community.
I am excited to be here at UT and look forward to building on the tremendous momentum set by former Dean Wayne T. Davis and Interim Deans Lynne Parker and Mark Dean. I am deeply grateful for their service to the college and the foundation they laid for me as incoming dean.
Warmest regards/Sincerely/All my best,
Dean and Wayne T. Davis Dean's Chair