UT President-Elect Visits UTC

UTC welcomed the 21st president of the UT system to the Chattanooga campus last week with a standing ovation, and Dr. John W. Shumaker responded with a quip showing his sensitivity to concerns about individuality and independence on the UT campuses.

"They gave me this yellow rose for my lapel," Shumaker told a crowd of 300 in the University Center on March 6,"and you can see how the stem covers up the little orange T on my pin."

The audience of "Blue and Gold" partisans roared its approval, and Shumaker went on to promise never to allow sound decisions by UTC Chancellor Bill Stacy to become buried in layers of institutional bureaucracy.

"I intend to be president of all the campuses in Tennessee, not just one," Shumaker declared. "The role of the administration, it seems to me, is not to rule, is not to interfere and is not to make life more complicated. It’s really to create a climate amid which faculty and students can do the work we want them to do together."

Shumaker praised UTC for its "fine faculty and students" and for collaborative efforts in economic development and education between the campus and the community. "You are the standard, the paradigm for that kind of initiative," he said.

 

Earlier Governor Don Sundquist, who chairs the UT board of trustees, introduced Shumaker to the University Center gathering. The 59-year-old Shumaker resigned as president of the University of Louisville to accept the post.

Sundquist ticked off a list of Shumaker’s attributes, calling him a scholar, people-person and strong leader and saying he understands the importance of teaching, research and sports.

During a question-and-answer period Shumaker said funding for higher education is the biggest challenge he faces. He predicted that the process of finding more state dollars for colleges will be "contentious and difficult" but said he had assurances from Sundquist that "things are eventually going to work out."

 

Dr. John Shumaker and Mrs. Lucy Shumaker

While declining to oppose or endorse a state lottery for Tennessee, Shumaker pointed out that the Kentucky lottery is helping the state retain more of its "best and brightest students." The Kentucky lottery provides a "great source for scholarships," much as the Georgia lottery supplies funding for the Hope college scholarships, he said.

Establishing relationships of "confidence and trust" is another top priority for Shumaker. He said he would devote the first few months of his presidency to wandering the halls of Nashville and moving around Tennessee to get to know the state’s legislators and its people.

A Pennsylvania native, Shumaker is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, where he majored in ancient Greek.

He received his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in classical studies from the University of Pennsylvania. In 1987 he was named president of Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, CT, the largest campus of the Connecticut state university system.

In 1995 Shumaker became 16th president of the University of Louisville, where he led an effort to enhance the school’s already strong identity as a metropolitan research university.

During his tenure, the university’s endowment rose from $183 million to more than $500 and the school set records in research funding and number of endowed chairs.