KNOXVILLE — Anne Mayhew, chief academic officer at the University of Tennessee-s Knoxville campus, will retire in August 2006.
Vice chancellor for academic affairs, dean of graduate studies, and an economics and history professor whose university service spans 37 years, Mayhew will be, by all accounts, a hard act to follow.
Retiring UT chief academic officer Anne Mayhew
“Anne Mayhew’s superior contributions to undergraduate and graduate education have positioned us to take the next giant steps in UT’s academic history,- UT Chancellor Loren Crabtree says.
Largely because of her dedication to high standards, the chancellor says, freshmen admitted for fall 2005 have an average ACT score of 25.6 and a 3.54 grade point average. Almost 30 percent have perfect 4.0 high school averages.
Nancy McGlasson, director of undergraduate admissions, is one of many UT leaders who respects the vice chancellor’s collaborative leadership style. “Anne established the Enrollment Management Committee to set the strategies to propel UT into its current successful enrollment patterns. Campus leaders representing academic departments and class scheduling, financial aid, student affairs, student support services, the faculty senate, orientation, communications, housing, budget and finance, institutional research, the diversity council – all come together to share information and compare trends,” she says.
Susan Martin, associate vice chancellor, has a long working relationship with the vice chancellor, who was associate dean of arts and sciences when Martin was head of the Classics department. “Anne has devoted so much of her career to improving academic quality, both from the professors’ and the students’ perspectives, by strengthening objective standards and processes. Her background and training as an economist make her especially qualified to amass and analyze data as the foundation for making decisions,” Martin says.
McGlasson agrees, yet says, “Anne’s intellect is characterized not only by love of the immutable and provable fact, but tempered with an equal appreciation of the arts. In winning an argument she is as likely to quote from literature as from statistics.
“The university has been fortunate to have among its leaders a person who worked her way up the ladders of tenure, promotion, and administrative appointment. She knows how it feels to teach, to have articles accepted for publication, to edit a journal, to chair a committee, to advise, to debate and to draft curricular policy.
“And, she knows how to sail in waters not calm,” says McGlasson.
Facing budget challenges in the 90s and at the turn of the century, the university looked to Mayhew to focus on intense programmatic streamlining. Chancellor Crabtree appointed her to lead the Review and Redirection Task Force that deliberated which programs to cut or consolidate.
“We had to make some painful decisions,” Mayhew says, “but now we are in a building position, and we have been able to increase the number of faculty positions, particularly in excellent programs.”
It is worth noting, Crabtree says, that since 2001 and including new lines for 2006-07, UT will have added 24 new faculty lines.
In mid-2004 Mayhew took the place of UT’s longtime dean of graduate studies, Dr. Clarence W. Minkel, when he retired.
Building on his foundation, Mayhew established health insurance benefits for grad students, giving UT a more competitive edge in recruiting the best students. Though UT has made progress in increasing graduate stipends, she says she leaves that task incomplete. “We need more and higher paying opportunities for graduate students,” she says.
It was Mayhew’s idea several years ago to set aside the night before commencement for a Hooding Ceremony to specially celebrate bestowing graduate degrees.
“The ceremony allows faculty mentors to hood the degree recipients. It is appropriate that the faculty who supervise graduate study are honored along with their students,” Mayhew says.
She wants more for undergraduates as well. Beyond the basics of a general education — writing, reading, math, sciences, and humanities – she says she wants Tennessee students to have a broadened perspective on the global culture they will graduate into — thus her tireless work for international and intercultural awareness.
“Life of the Mind” was Mayhew’s project, too.
For three years, now, every freshman reads the same LOM book before arriving on campus, then attends discussion sessions with peers and faculty volunteers during fall semester. Mayhew confesses to being terribly worried the program would fall flat first time round, but it-s been well attended. All three books chosen had international and intercultural themes.
“We’ve upgraded the computing system for registration, but it can be more sophisticated. We’ve added wireless Internet access, but we need more first rate learning software. We’ve established the Student Success Center in a renovated house on Melrose, but we need to build a larger place. We have an honors program, but we need to provide a faculty mentoring system,” Mayhew says.
“No other administrator I know has such a varied and enduring record of achievement on behalf of student and faculty success,” says Chancellor Crabtree. “University presidents and chancellors over the years have expressed the highest level of confidence in Dr. Mayhew’s leadership by assigning her the toughest projects at crucial times.”
Mayhew says her interest in economics boils down to an interest in the causes and consequences of current events; that interest qualified her for, perhaps, one of the most visible tasks she was assigned.
In 2000, then UT President Wade Gilley appointed Mayhew as UT’s Faculty Athletics Representative to the National Collegiate Athletics Association. Mayhew says she knew where Neyland Stadium was, but had never been to a UT football game.
“It’s not that I was anti-football. I just had other priorities,” she says.
Nevertheless, she delivered a standout performance, successfully moving responsibility for UT athletes’ academic oversight from the Athletics Departments to the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.
“My vision was to establish a clear, university-wide agreement that academic and athletic excellence can co-exist,” she said.
Todd Diacon, history department head, succeeded her in the role in 2004. “I once said that following Anne Mayhew as Faculty Athletics Representative was a no-win proposition — no way I could do the job as well as she did.
“Dr. Mayhew worked tirelessly to ensure the academic integrity of UT athletics and strove to guarantee the academic success of student-athletes during a difficult time when the UT Athletic Department was under NCAA investigation for charges of academic fraud. In part because of her strong, guiding hand, I am convinced, the university avoided sanctions.
“Shortly after the creation of the Thornton Athletics Student Life Center for UT athletes, other SEC schools made similar changes, based on UT’s example,” Diacon said.
Mayhew, and her late husband, Walter C. Neale, joined the UT economics department faculty together in 1968, when it was unusual for universities to hire couples.
She was told that both would probably not be granted tenure. Neale was. Somewhat later, she also received a letter congratulating her on her promotion to associate professor and award of tenure. “I put it in a safety deposit box,” Mayhew smiles.
Her voice on campus in support of gender equity recently was recognized in a News Sentinel series.
“Women don’t find their mentors easily,” Mayhew says.
But, she’s changed that, says Susan Martin. “Anne has improved conditions for women on campus by being a strong role model and an accessible mentor.”
When one of Mayhew’s high school teacher-mentors suggested she read The Age of Jackson by Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Mayhew says she began to ponder how distribution of income impacts so much of our lives — why some people are well off, some not.
“I have found no completely satisfactory answers yet,” she says.
But she’ll turn again to the question in August. She says she’ll spend time in the UT Libraries completing a book manuscript on the history of economic thought in the United States in the 20th century.
She’ll also spend time at the theatre, at the symphony, in far lands, and in Washington, D.C. with her grandchildren.