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TB Wes Hines
Wes Hines (center) stands with UT Chancellor Donde Plowman and engineering colleagues at the Zeanah Engineering Complex after being named the 2024 Macebearer on March 20, 2024. (left to right: Mathew Mench, Donde Plowman, Wes Hines, Brian Wirth and Vladimir Sobes)

J. Wesley Hines, Postelle Professor, Chancellor’s Professor and head of the Department of Nuclear Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has been named the university’s 2024 Macebearer. Designation as Macebearer is the highest faculty honor and recognizes a distinguished career and commitment of service to students, scholarship and society.

“Being named Macebearer is a great honor, and as I look back on my 30-year career here it just reminds me of so many great mentors who helped mold my career, colleagues who put their trust in me and team members who worked to make this a such a rewarding place to work,” said Hines. “Having my name listed with the great UT Volunteers who have been named Macebearer humbles me and validates the efforts we all make on a daily basis.”

Plowman surprising Hines with the Macebearer designation.

Chancellor Donde Plowman surprised Hines with the announcement during a graduate seminar at the university’s Zeanah Engineering Complex on March 20. Hines said he thought there was an award presentation for one of the students when he saw balloons arriving along with the chancellor and dean. When he spotted his wife, he knew it was something more personal.

Plowman stressed “what an important part Wes has been to our campus, to the country, and to his discipline.” She noted his contributions to the field of nuclear of engineering broadly and to his work elevating UT’s program into one of the most highly regarded in the nation

“The department has had a fabulous transformation over the past 13 years, rising to not only the largest PhD program in the nation but also becoming one of the top departments in scholarship,” said Hines, who is retiring later this year. “I am excited to see the growth in size and quality continue to increase under new leadership. We have a team of faculty, staff and students that makes this place very special and which has made it a great place to go to work each and every day.”

Hines’ advice to UT students is to work hard, be transparent and surround themselves with great colleagues. He added that success is related to the success of those around you, so raising others up will raise you up too.

Hines joined UT in 1995 as a research assistant professor after earning his PhD in nuclear engineering from the Ohio State University, following service in the U.S. Navy as a nuclear-qualified submarine officer. He has served in a variety of positions in the Department of Nuclear Engineering: he became a tenured associate professor in 2000 and a full professor in 2005, and he was appointed department head in 2012.

Matthew Mench, dean of the Tickle College of Engineering, Condra Chair, and Chancellor’s Professor, wrote in Hines’ Macebearer nomination that as department head he integrated benchmarking activities, strategic planning and faculty evaluations, resulting in improvements in each of the department’s metrics.

“Not only has Wes grown a large department, it is also tied for third in scholarship with MIT,” said Mench. “Under his leadership, the nuclear engineering graduate program was ranked as high as fourth in the U.S. among all public universities.”

For Hines’ contribution to teaching and promoting nuclear engineering education, he was awarded the 2014 Glenn Murphy Award by the American Society for Engineering Education, their top honor. He was also awarded the American Nuclear Society Education Training and Workforce Development Division Robert L. Long Training Excellence Award in 2020 and the American Nuclear Society Education Training and Workforce Development Division Arthur Holly Compton Award in Education in 2019.

Over the past 20 years, Hines has led 131 research projects with awards totaling over $17 million, sponsored by both government and commercial entities in the U.S. and abroad. He has written more than 350 technical publications and has been invited to speak around the world on topics including national nuclear strategy, distance education delivery approaches, high value asset management, and reliability and maintainability education. His scholarship in asset management recently received Best Paper awards at two separate international conferences. Hines is a fellow of the International Society of Engineering Asset Management.

Hines will be recognized as Macebearer at the Chancellor’s Honors Banquet in April.


Maggie Palmer (865-974-3993,