KNOXVILLE — University of Tennessee campuses will chart their futures and the system administration will help them acquire the resources to meet their goals, UT President John Petersen told a statewide audience of faculty, students and staff Tuesday.
In a state of the university address reviewing his first 120 days in office, Petersen said he’s a chemistry professor turned administrator who enjoys “facilitating the success of others.”
He spoke to a campus audience that included members of the UT Board of Trustees. His speech was broadcast across the state by computer Web cast.
The role of the system is to work with each UT campus and institute and provide a framework that assures the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, Petersen said.
“I want to blend the independence and the synergy of the different parts of the university to make things happen for the good of Tennessee.”
Calling UT the chief intellectual driver in the state, Petersen said it must bring forth more marketable ideas and innovations to grow businesses and jobs for Tennessee.
“We have to do this for the good of Tennessee,” he said. “This state cannot be competitive without a more active, engaged University of Tennessee.”
He cited a biotech company founded by a UT Health Science Center professor as an example of how university research can contribute to economic development.
UT’s partnerships with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis also will be good for the university and the state.
The university will work harder on relationships with other higher education institutions in Tennessee to create a better-educated workforce. UT already is talking with the Board of Regents about sharing information technology resources, he said.
A joint college of public health with the State Board of Regents “makes sense,” but he said he opposes a second pharmacy school at East Tennessee State University.
“I will tell you frankly that, in my opinion, a second pharmacy school doesn’t make any sense for the state economy and the people of Tennessee. Expanding and geographically broadening our current program does make sense to the people of this state.”