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The University of Tennessee Board of Trustees approved President John Petersen’s recommendation of Jimmy G. Cheek as the new chancellor for the Knoxville campus.

Jimmy CheekCheek is currently the senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources at the University of Florida. The board confirmed his appointment Friday.

“Dr. Cheek is an excellent choice and, we believe, the best fit for the university from among a superb field of candidates. The Knoxville campus is a top public research university with great potential to grow and advance its national profile,” Petersen said. “I recommended Dr. Cheek because he will ensure this momentum continues in a way that positively impacts our students, faculty and staff, and the state.”

Cheek said he looks forward to leading UT Knoxville.

“I am delighted,” Cheek said, “to be chosen as chancellor of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. This is one of the best public institutions in America with many unique assets and a very bright academic future.

“The interview process was open and in-depth and provided very real insight into both the challenges and the opportunities,” Cheek said. “I was very impressed with the faculty, the students and the overall academic priorities.┬áThere is a strong statewide constituency of broad support.┬áThis is an outstanding university with a commitment to be even better.

“My goal will be to develop an aggressive strategic agenda for the campus in concert with the overall strategies of the university. I am confident with the excellent campus team in place, we can do that together.”

Cheek will begin serving on Feb. 1, 2009.

Appointed to his current post in 2005, he manages the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Prior to that, Cheek was dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences for five years and assistant dean for seven years.

Cheek, 62, earned a doctorate in interdisciplinary education from Texas A&M University. A native of Texas, he and his wife, Ileen, have two adult children and one granddaughter.

The search for a new chancellor began in January and was overseen by a 21-member committee of faculty, staff, students and community leaders. Hap McSween, UT Knoxville chancellor’s professor and distinguished professor and head of the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences, chaired the committee.

“This was an outstanding search committee,” Petersen said. “They did an excellent job, and I appreciate Dr. McSween’s leadership and the hard work from its members, as well as participation and input from the campus community throughout this process. I also appreciate Dr. Simek’s service to the university over the past year.” Interim Chancellor Jan Simek will continue to lead the campus until the transition in February.

For more information about Cheek, visit http://chancellor.utk.edu/announcements/chancellorcheek.shtml