Skip to main content
Aerial drone of fog covered campus
Aerial drone photo of the John D. Tickle Engineering Building, the Tennessee River, and downtown Knoxville during a foggy morning in February 2019. Photo by Hayden Antal

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has selected Janis Terpenny, head of the industrial and manufacturing engineering department at Pennsylvania State University, to be the next Wayne T. Davis Endowed Dean’s Chair and dean of the Tickle College of Engineering. She will join the university August 1.

Janis Terpenny
Janis Terpenny

As dean, Terpenny will oversee a rapidly growing college that has, over the past decade, doubled its undergraduate and doctoral enrollment, improved its graduation rates, and increased its faculty endowments and research expenditures. The college is ranked 31st in the nation among public institutions for its graduate programs and 33rd for undergraduate programs.

“Dr. Terpenny’s expertise in engineering design and smart manufacturing will be invaluable to the college and the university as we continue to emerge as a leader in the fields of advanced materials and high-performance computing,” said Provost David Manderscheid. “With her track record as an academic leader who can foster collaboration, advance research, and build on the college’s already excellent reputation, I am certain Dr. Terpenny will be a great asset to the university.”

Terpenny has been at Penn State since 2015, when she became the Peter and Angela Dal Pezzo Chair and head of the Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering. She also serves as director of the Center for e-Design, a National Science Foundation Industry–University Cooperative Research Center.

Prior to joining Penn State, Terpenny served as the Joseph Walkup Professor and chair of the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering at Iowa State University, and held faculty positions at Virginia Tech and the University of Massachusetts. Terpenny also has experience in government, having served as program director for the NSF Division of Undergraduate Education, and in industry with General Electric. She is a fellow in both the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers, and was inducted into Tau Beta Pi as an Eminent Engineer in 2011 and the Academy of Distinguished Alumni of Virginia Tech in 2016.

Terpenny earned her bachelor’s in mathematical sciences from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1979 and her master’s and doctorate in industrial and systems engineering from Virginia Tech in 1981 and 1996, respectively.

“I am honored and humbled to be joining the University of Tennessee to lead the Tickle College of Engineering,” said Terpenny. “The college has been on a wonderful trajectory of growth and impact over the last decade. I am looking forward to contributing to and cultivating an inspired and passionate culture that is driven by a common mission to continuously learn, to innovate, and to contribute . . . for the good of one another, our community—indeed, for the world.”

Along with the growth in enrollment and research, the Tickle College of Engineering has been improving its resources. In 2012, the Min H. Kao Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Building opened, followed by the John D. Tickle Engineering Building the following year. The college is currently constructing a cutting-edge engineering complex that will house its top-ranked nuclear engineering program and laboratories for advanced engineering research.

A $200 million fundraising campaign led to the naming of the college and the Min H. Kao Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, in addition to several endowed professorships and named professors of practice. The campaign also allowed the college to make improvements to existing student, laboratory, and classroom spaces.

In recent years, the college has strengthened its relationship with several key partners, including Oak Ridge National Laboratory. That collaboration has produced doctoral programs in energy science and data science through the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education. It also led to the establishment of IACMI—The Composites Institute, a $259 million project, and supports the UT-ORNL Governor’s Chair program, with 11 of the 16 Governor’s Chairs serving in the college.

On campus, engineering has teamed up with other colleges on a number of high-profile projects, including a pair of health care initiatives with the College of Nursing, the establishment of the Heath Integrated Business and Engineering program with the Haslam College of Business, and a societal impact study with the College of Social Work.

Terpenny will succeed Interim Dean Mark Dean, who took over from Interim Dean Lynne Parker when she accepted the position of assistant director of artificial intelligence for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Interim Chancellor Wayne T. Davis served as dean of the Tickle College of Engineering for 10 years until May 2018, when he postponed retirement to serve as interim chancellor.


Karen Dunlap (865-974-8674,

David Goddard (865-974-0683,