McKee Chair of Excellence in Learning

History of Chair

The O.D. McKee Chair of Excellence in Learning was established in 1998 in honor of the late O.D. McKee, founder of McKee Foods Corporation, makers of Little Debbie snack cakes. The chair of excellence was originally funded by an endowment from the McKee Foods Corporation and a matching grant from the State of Tennessee for the purpose of providing leadership and direction in research, teaching, and outreach programs for the study of dyslexia and related exceptional-learning conditions.

Current Chair Holder

In 2001, Dr. James A. Tucker became the first professor to fill the position, and he continues to do so. Dr. Tucker is a member of the faculty in the College of Health, Education, and Professional studies, and he teaches specifically in the School-Psychology Program. Prior to arriving at UTC, Dr. Tucker was Professor of Educational Psychology at Andrews University. He formerly served as Director of the Bureau of Special Education, Pennsylvania Department of Education, Director of Federal Programs for the Department of Special Education, Texas Education Agency, and perhaps most importantly, was a high-school and elementary-school teacher in Florida.

Dr. Tucker is one of the leading authorities in North America on the subject of integrated educational program-development for at-risk students, including students with disabilities. He has served as a consultant and trainer in hundreds of school systems, both public and private, in more than 40 states and provinces in North America, as well as in school systems in Brazil, Canada, Japan, Lithuania, Norway, the Philippines, and the West Indies.

Current Initiatives

Below is a video capturing moments of the 17th McKee Learning Lunch on the topic of the Crossroads of Chattanooga. Community Coach and Author Dr. Elanor M. Cooper led the program of the significance of the state of our city and the importance of hearing every representative's voice. The learning lunches do not claim to fully solve the problems surrounding our community. We believe that raising these questions in higher level of discussion help start the process and provide enough data, to then proceed in taking the steps necessary. This learning lunch was also co-sponsored by the Times Free Press.

YouTube Playlist of McKee Learning Luncheons (7th-17th)


Personal Message from Dr. Tucker

"It is a very serious honor to hold this position. Not only does this chair bear the responsibility for adhering to the vision and mission of the University of Chattanooga, the position is directly responsible for honoring the vision and mission of O.D. McKee, who, having developed an internationally prominent company that upholds the highest standards of quality and service in all aspects of its business, was, and continues to be, one of the premiere visionaries of the Chattanooga region. 

It is my goal to represent these values both in the academics supported by the McKee Chair and to provide a dynamic platform of service that encourages engagement between the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and the Chattanooga regional community."