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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee Board of Trustees approved a seven-member search committee Friday to help choose a successor to retiring UT President Joe Johnson.

As required by law, all members of the search committee were appointed trustees. Ex-officio trustees were not eligible.

Bill Sansom and Jim Haslam, both of Knoxville, will serve as the committee’s chair and vice-chair, respectively.

Other committee members are Johnnie Amonette, Memphis; Roger W. Dickson, Chattanooga; J. Steven Ennis, Tullahoma; R. Clayton McWhorter, Nashville; and Arnold Perl, Memphis.

Johnson announced at the board’s June meeting his plans to retire June 30, 1999, or when a successor takes his place.

Sansom said that among the committee’s first tasks would be deciding on job requirements for the position and selecting an advisory group to help guide the committee.

He also said he planned to ask the committee to consider hiring an outside consulting firm to assist with the search.

Susan Richardson-Williams, a Knoxville trustee, said the advisory group should be selected with the goal of increasing the voice of women and minorities in the selection process.

Sansom said the advisory group would be representative of the university’s female and minority constituencies as well as faculty, staff, students, alumni and other friends of UT.

The search committee has no timetable that it must follow, Sansom said.

”I don’t think we need to act like we are in a track meet,” Sansom said. ”Joe Johnson has given us the opportunity to take our time and do the job right.”

No date for the committee’s first meeting was scheduled.

”So many people are gone this time of year, it’s difficult to schedule a meeting,” said Sansom, indicating he would not attempt to hold a meeting in August.