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University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Interim Chancellor Wayne T. Davis today announced the appointment of Tisha Benton as vice chancellor for communications.

image of Tisha Benton
Tisha Benton has been named UT’s vice chancellor for communications and will start December 17.

Benton’s first day as the university’s chief communications and marketing officer will be December 17. She will serve on the chancellor’s cabinet as a key advisor and member of the university’s senior leadership team.

Benton will oversee the Office of Communications and Marketing and WUOT-FM 91.9, the university’s public radio station.

“Tisha is a thoughtful, well-respected, and trusted leader in the state,” said Davis. “She has extensive experience with large, complex organizations and brings a unique perspective to this position. I look forward to working with her to move ahead with the university’s communications and marketing goals.”

Benton currently serves as deputy commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Bureau of Environment. In 2004, she began her career at TDEC as deputy director of communications. She quickly advanced in the agency, serving as director of communications, assistant commissioner for external affairs, and director of the Division of Water Resources.

In Benton’s current role, she manages 900 staff members across 10 offices; oversees eight technical divisions responsible for the quality of the state’s air, water, and land; meets with businesses looking to potentially expand or relocate in Tennessee; manages customer relations; and provides information to members of the Tennessee General Assembly.

“I am honored to join the University of Tennessee,” said Benton. “As Tennessee’s flagship university, UT is a foundation of innovation and learning. I feel privileged to join a team dedicated to telling those stories and advancing the university’s reputation. I look forward to representing UT’s Volunteer values with transparency and openness.”

Prior to her work with TDEC, Benton was a senior executive producer at WATE-TV in Knoxville. She has served on the board of directors for Keep Knoxville Beautiful and as an allocations volunteer for United Way of Greater Knoxville. Additionally, she has provided communications and organizational assistance to the Great Smoky Mountains Park Commission.

Her earlier broadcast experience includes producing evening newscasts for WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; KRNV-TV in Reno, Nevada; and KOMU-TV in Columbia, Missouri.

Benton’s honors include the Governor’s Excellence in Service Award and being named a Next Gen Innovator Award national finalist. She has been widely recognized for crisis communications on issues including coal ash, floods, and numerous other complex environmental matters. Benton is a graduate of LEAD Tennessee, the state’s premier leadership training program.

Benton, originally from Tabernacle, New Jersey, earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. She is pursuing a Master of Science from Tennessee Technological University.


Tyra Haag (865-974-5460,