MARTIN, Tenn. – Dr. Nick Dunagan received unanimous approval by the UT Board of Trustees executive committee today in officially being named the University of Tennessee at Martin’s eighth chancellor. The committee vote came during a 1:30 p.m. telephone conference call in the university’s Watkins Auditorium and followed UT President J. Wade Gilley’s recommendation of Dunagan for the position.
Dunagan, 54, becomes chancellor after serving as interim chancellor since September after Dr. Philip W. Conn was named UT vice president for special programs, working out of Knoxville. Conn had served as chancellor since July 1998.
“I have every confidence that Nick Dunagan is the best person to assume the chancellorship at UT Martin,” said Gilley. “He is extremely qualified.
“Nick has the requisite experience and is very highly regarded on-campus and in the broader community. I believe he will be able to lead the campus in becoming one of the best regional institutions in the South.”
Jerry Jackson, UT Board of Trustee member from Dyersburg, Tenn., chaired the advisory search committee that assisted Gilley with the nationwide search. Jackson said the search committee “made the best choice that’s available anywhere in this country” in recommending Dunagan to Gilley.
“There’s no learning curve here,” Jackson said of Dunagan. “The people know him, and he knows the people. We don’t have to wait six months to have a leader. We have a leader today for this campus.”
Dunagan enjoyed widespread support for the post from the UT Martin campus and the community. In comments following the vote, he expressed appreciation for that support and promised to move the university forward on several fronts.
“The University of Tennessee at Martin is important to the West Tennessee region, and our goals will focus on outcomes that strengthen the citizens of this area,” Dunagan said. “We must be a leader in providing educational access to traditional and non-traditional students, in being a catalyst for economic development and in providing quality of life awareness on issues ranging from the fine arts to environmental stewardship.”
Dunagan began his work at UT Martin in 1973 as director of development. His most recent job assignments included executive vice chancellor, vice chancellor for student affairs, and vice chancellor for development and administration.
He has served as the interim chancellor two other times (1985-86 and 1997-98), and he currently serves as executive director of WestStar, the university’s regional leadership program for West Tennessee. He also is a member of the executive committee of Weakley County’s Education Edge program and is a member of the Martin Economic Development Council.
Dunagan, a native of Caruthersville, Mo., is a 1968 UT Martin graduate, a 1971 graduate of the University of Missouri School of Law, and received a doctorate in higher education administration in 1990 from Vanderbilt University. He is a retired colonel in the Tennessee Army National Guard and is an active member in the Martin First United Methodist Church.
He is married to the former Cathy Porter, a UT Martin graduate from Humboldt, Tenn., and they have four children. The oldest son, Stan, and his wife, Stephanie, are both UT Martin graduates and live in Madisonville, Ky. Stan teaches geology at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, and Stephanie is completing her final year of medical residency in family medicine.
Tracy Dunagan Vander Meeden and her husband, Brett, are also UT Martin graduates who live in Nashville. She works in the special events office at Vanderbilt University, and Brett is a sales representative for Vulcan Materials.
The middle son, Casey, is a senior in industrial engineering at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Miss., and the youngest son, Cody, is a senior at UT Martin majoring in marketing.