Skip to main content

Three new deans have started their jobs at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and one other will begin work on January 1, 2012.

Steven Escar Smith began as dean of UT Libraries on July 1; Scott Poole took over as dean of the College of Architecture and Design on July 15; and Victoria Niederhauser began her role as dean of the College of Nursing on August 1. Theresa M. Lee will begin her new job as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences on January 1, 2012.

UT Libraries: Steven Escar Smith

Steven Escar SmithAs UT Libraries dean, Smith administers the Hodges Main Library and UT branch libraries in music, social work, and agriculture and veterinary medicine.

“This library is beloved by the campus and the community,” Smith said. “That’s what made this an appealing move for me. When I ask people in the community what they love about the library, they tell me that the building is iconic and the collections are great, but what they love most is the people.”

Smith said his to-do list is pretty focused: “To work hard to help UT be a Top 25 institution.”

UT Libraries have more than three million volumes in print and extensive digital collections, more than forty faculty and 100 staff members, and a budget of more than $16.5 million. The UT Libraries is a member of the Digital Library Federation and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), which ranks UT 29th among sixty-seven publicly funded ARL institutions.

Before coming to UT, Smith was the interim executive associate dean at Texas A&M Libraries in College Station, Texas, where he oversaw fundraising initiatives that resulted in more than $19 million in cash and gifts to support the libraries’ mission.

Smith earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English literature, and a master’s degree in librarianship from the University of South Carolina, and a doctorate in English literature from Texas A&M University.

Smith succeeded Barbara Dewey, who left UT to become the dean of university libraries and scholarly communications at Penn State University. Linda Phillips, a UT Libraries professor and head of scholarly communication, served as interim dean during the search process.

Architecture and Design: Scott Poole

Scott PooleUT’s College of Architecture and Design is playing a growing role in green design and building trends.

“The biggest challenge facing our college is continuing to advance high profile initiatives like the Living Light experimental building and the New Norris House,” Poole said.

Living Light is one of twenty projects selected to compete in the US Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon competition in Washington DC this month. The New Norris house, which was planned, designed, and built by UT students and faculty, is a modern, technologically advanced version of the original Norris House, designed by the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1933 as part of the Norris Dam project.

Poole is also overseeing some physical redesign of the college’s facilities.

“Presently we are making changes to the interior offices, review spaces, and seminar rooms of the college, giving those spaces a sense of the high-level design we will be expecting of our graduates,” he said.

Before coming to UT, Poole was the director of the School of Architecture and Design at Virginia Tech, where he oversaw four programs: architecture, industrial design, interior design, and landscape architecture. He helped lead the school to the forefront of architecture and design education in the United States with the architecture undergraduate program ranked No. 1 in America 2008 and the landscape program ranked No. 1 in 2009. In 2009, Design Intelligence recognized the school as one of America’s World-Class Schools of Architecture.

Poole has a bachelor’s degree from Temple University and a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Texas. He was a student Fulbright Scholar.

The College of Architecture and Design houses architecture, interior design, and landscape architecture. The 350-member undergraduate architecture program was ranked a Top 20 program for 2011 by DesignIntelligence, and the college’s landscape architecture master’s program is the only one of its kind in the state.

Poole replaced John McRae, who remains a faculty member in the college.

College of Nursing: Victoria Niederhauser

Victoria Niederhauser“UT’s College of Nursing is a great school with a great foundation,” said Niederhauser, who came to UT from the University of Hawaii, where she had been the associate dean for academic affairs at the School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene.

“The college has outstanding student outcomes: nearly all of our students pass their national licensure examinations at the baccalaureate and master’s levels,” she said. “Faculty members are doing cutting-edge research in the areas of genetics, mental health, aging, health policy, child health, and technology.

“I believe there is a wealth of opportunity for the college to lead the state and nation in the areas of nursing and health research, interdisciplinary education, international outreach, and nursing practice,” she said. “My job, as the dean, is to provide faculty members with the support they need, so they can secure national funding, build interdisciplinary research opportunities, and create innovative solutions for health promotion, disease prevention, and illness management.”

A Fairfield, Connecticut, native, Niederhauser served as director of nurse practitioner programs, graduate chair, department chair, and associate dean during her eleven years at UH. Prior to that, she was a nursing faculty member at George Washington University and George Mason University.

Niederhauser’s own research focuses on child and adolescent health promotion and disease prevention, with an emphasis on immunizations and childhood obesity. She is a board certified pediatric nurse practitioner and in 2006 received the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners State Award for Excellence.

She earned a doctorate in public health from UH, a master’s degree in nursing from Boston College, a bachelor’s in nursing from the University of Massachusetts, and a diploma from Bridgeport Hospital School of Nursing.

A Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellow, Niederhauser replaced Joan Creasia, who retired after nearly sixteen years as dean.

Arts & Sciences: Theresa Lee

Theresa LeeLee will come to UT from the University of Michigan, where she has held a number of administrative positions, most recently chair of the Department of Psychology. She is also a professor in the neuroscience program and a research scientist in the reproductive sciences program.

“I am delighted to take over as dean of UT’s College of Arts and Sciences, which provides a strong liberal arts background for the entire campus, as well as advanced degrees in arts, humanities, and sciences,” she said. “I have a strong belief that a foundational liberal arts education provides the basis for life-long learning, appreciation of the broader world, and an ability to adapt to an every changing world.”

The University of Michigan Department of Psychology seats more than 8,000 students per year in departmental courses and has more than seventy full-time faculty. The department is the second largest research unit in the university’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.

Lee has a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Indiana University and a doctorate in biopsychology from the University of Chicago.

UT Knoxville’s College of Arts and Sciences spans twenty-three academic departments and schools as well as seventeen centers and institutes. The 9,000-student college offers more than sixty undergraduate majors and pre-professional programs and fifty graduate programs. The college provides general education courses to every undergraduate student on the Knoxville campus.

Lee replaces Bruce Bursten, who stepped down in December 2010 after more than five years as dean to return to the faculty. Hap McSween, Distinguished Professor of Science and a Chancellor’s Professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, is serving as interim dean until Lee’s arrival.