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UT President Recruitment Efforts to Emphasize Broadest Possible Pool and Statewide UT Presence, Search Committee Decides

July 08, 2010

NASHVILLE – Recruitment and the summary of qualifications for the next University of Tennessee president will encourage the most diverse possible candidate pool, including those without a “traditional” higher education background, search committee members decided on Thursday.

Meeting for the third time in as many weeks, the group discussed finalizing language for recruitment advertising, potential placement of ads, and a document specifying responsibilities and qualifications for the job.

An “earned terminal degree,” or the highest obtainable level of education in a particular field, will be a preferred qualification, as will experience “leading a complex and comprehensive institution.” In agreeing on the language, the committee opted not to restrict qualified candidates to only those with terminal degrees or experience leading higher education institutions.

“Instead of language that is more limiting, I believe we should cast a wider net to take advantage of every possible opportunity,” UT Interim President Jan Simek said. Simek has an ex officio and non-voting seat on the nine-member committee.

Search committee chair and UT Board of Trustees vice-chair Jim Murphy said he expects potential candidates from within higher education leadership to be identified, but he also noted the importance of seeking potential candidates who may come from positions of leadership in fields other than higher education.

“The right person is going to be a great leader, and obviously, an educator who is a great leader is someone we will look really hard at,” Murphy said. “The right person clearly will have to be a good leader of a complex organization, and hopefully, we will find the right person by reaching out, without any biases, to develop as broad and diverse a pool of candidates as possible.”

Committee members also decided recruitment information about responsibilities of the position will emphasize the distinctive, statewide nature of the UT System, and the need for the UT president to be engaged with and advocate on behalf of all UT entities.

“The UT System offices may be in Knoxville, but as far as the UT president is concerned, the community is the state,” committee member and UT trustee Jim Hall said.

The search committee's next scheduled meeting is in October.  Meanwhile, recruitment efforts will get under way.

Plans for recruitment advertising include possibly one print ad in a national, higher education-targeted publication, and online at websites serving higher education.

Officials with Witt / Kieffer, the executive search firm retained by the University, also are working with the national UT Alumni Association (UTAA) on identifying qualified individuals with UT ties.

When ads have been finalized and prepared for distribution – expected to be in a matter of days – UT employees statewide will receive the same information via a broadcast email encouraging them to nominate potential candidates they may know directly or through a network of contacts.

The search committee decided it would recommend “up to three” finalists for the UT Board of Trustees to consider in October, when the board is scheduled to select the next president.

Approved advertising and other information will be posted online at a special website dedicated to the UT Presidential Search. The search site is accessible at



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