NASHVILLE – A year after Dr. John W. Shumaker accepted the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees’ offer to become the institution’s 22nd president, he says UT is helping solve the state’s problems.
Shumaker accepted UT’s top job on March 5, 2002, and despite the state’s fiscal problems, the university is moving forward, he said.
“The fiscal climate is challenging, but the entrepreneurial spirit in our university community is encouraging,” Shumaker said Thursday. “I have become acquainted with university faculty, staff, students, the Board of Regents system, K-12 system, and a new governor and his administration.
“I thank each of them for their support and loyalty to this university and the people of this state. We are making progress and, on occasion, even thinking outside the box.”
Shumaker said he has concentrated on refining UT’s mission and purpose during his first year.
UT’s three campuses and the system as a whole now have strategic goals and scorecards to track progress in achieving them. The scorecards, which may be seen at Shumaker’s Web page, http://scorecard.tennessee.edu, focus on students, staff and faculty, research, service to Tennessee, private support, and strategic goals and objectives. The president, chancellor and vice presidents have performance goals tied to the scorecard, he said.
“We may need to become smaller, but we will maintain our quality. UT’s financial situation is no different from that of most state universities. We must create our own solutions, diversify income sources, and use courageous thinking,” he said.
Shumaker cited a vision for the university, a plan to revitalize the UT Space Institute, and development of a research foundation and the proposed Tennessee College of Public Health as major accomplishments during his first year.
“It is most important that we have a vision and that the university speaks with one voice. We have defined quality measures through the scorecards. We have developed an integrated marketing plan, and we have made the state’s priorities the university’s priorities.
“And, students always come first.”
Work is almost complete on a research foundation that will help UT faculty be more competitive in winning governmental and private contracts.
The UT 2010 scorecard calls for increasing total grants and contracts from $205 million in 2001 to $350 million in 2010. The scorecard goal for direct federal appropriations and earmarks is $50 million, up from $10.6 million in 2001.
Shumaker said the university is working to strengthen the relationship with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and UT Battelle, which manages the laboratory.
The seven-point plan for the Space Institute, which is located near Tullahoma, refocuses its research program into five areas, each emphasizing economic development.
The Tennessee College of Public Health is a joint program with the Board of Regents.
The college, which will have headquarters in Memphis, is designed to improve education and research on the prevention of illness and injury and to support homeland security programs, such as prevention of bio-terrorism, Shumaker said. Cooperation between the health-related units of both higher education systems will make it easier for the state to attract federal funding, he said.
Shumaker said he hopes the lottery will “help keep excellent students (in state) who are now going to out of state institutions.” He served on a committee that made recommendations on the lottery to the legislature.
Building more effective relationships with UT’s many constituents has been a major priority during his first year, he said.
“We have open meetings with faculty, staff and students on a regular basis and with faculty senate chairs and student body presidents.”
A stronger presence in Nashville and Washington D.C. is improving UT’s relationships with state and federal policy makers. In addition to the college of public health, UT is working with the Board of Regents on curriculum issues that will make it easier for students to transfer from one state institution to another without losing credits.
Shumaker said searches for a new chancellor at the Health Science Center in Memphis and for a men’s athletic director in Knoxville are moving forward. Consulting firms are working with UT officials on both searches.