Significant progress has been made toward a solution that will allow the UT Knoxville audiology and speech pathology program to continue operations through UT and remain in Knoxville, university officials announced this week.
"The university is committed to keeping the clinic open and in Knoxville," said UT Knoxville Interim Chancellor Jan Simek. "Details are still being worked out, but UT will continue to operate the clinic and the academic program."
A group representing the president, chancellor, the College of Arts and Sciences, the audiology and speech pathology department, the UT Health Science Center and others has sought alternatives that will allow the program to continue to meet the educational and clinical needs of Tennesseans.
"As we move forward, our discussion remains focused on the economic realities facing all our campuses and institutes. A new affiliation and a new business plan for the Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology will provide shared efficiencies and new opportunities for strategic partnerships," said UT President John Petersen.
It is expected that the plan will be announced in early September.
The Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology was one of three programs recommended for phased-closure by the Knoxville campus administration in response to an $11 million budget cut for 2008-2009. At the request of Interim Chancellor Simek, the recommendation was tabled to give more time to study the issue and address concerns.
Under the plan, the department will no longer be affiliated with the UT Knoxville College of Arts and Sciences, thus allowing for the needed savings in the UTK budget. Audiology and speech pathology will operate under a new business plan which currently is being formulated.
Simek said he and others will work closely with the Faculty Senate, the audiology and speech pathology department and other university leaders to ensure that alternatives consider the program’s mission and service, current faculty and staff as well as patients and their families.
Petersen said he hopes to make a recommendation to the board at its next full meeting, set for Oct. 23-24 in Knoxville.