On June 21, 2019, the UT Board of Trustees approved the re-unification of the UT Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) with UT Knoxville to elevate the impact and reputation of UTIA and UT Knoxville in relation to other leading and globally competitive research institutions.

If you have additional ideas or comments, please contact Linda C. Martin at lcmartin@tennessee.edu.

Community Forum

Faculty and staff listening session with Interim UT President Randy Boyd, UT Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman and Senior Vice President Tim Cross

(There was an audio problem at the very beginning of the event that caused the first 2-3 minutes to not be recorded.)
Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019
Hollingsworth Auditorium
Knoxville, TN

10:16:58 From Becky Campbell: Love the idea of saving families!

10:32:19 From Keith Barber: can the video shift so those on computers see teh speaker (not just the president, chancellor and SVP)?

10:37:18 From Keith Barber: thank you for shifting the camera!

10:37:25 From Mike Stanley: Thanks for the wider shot.

10:41:35 From aliross: Does anyone on here have any questions you would like for me to relay to the room?

10:46:00 From Keith Barber: From the UTIA Retirees Association:

10:46:42 From Becky Campbell: Are there any plans or views on how this will impact the organizational structure for three extension regions and the county extension offices?

10:46:52 From Keith Barber: 1) Why UTIA and not include teh Space Institute and athe UTHSC in this new structure? If it will help our rankings?

10:48:30 From Keith Barber: 2) Overhead for UTK is a higher percentage taken as opposed to the UTIA grant process. Will UTIA grant overhead dollars be diminished and/or cannibalized?

10:48:59 From aliross: Thank you. We see the questions from Becky and UTIA Retiree Association and they will be asked to the group.

10:49:28 From Keith Barber: 3) How will we (UTIA) maintain our identity in the future? I.E., will the Department of Plant Sciences remain as such?

10:54:05 From Keith Barber: 4) UTIA has a strategic plan. One of the goals of this plan is to take UTIA back to the staffing levels we had prior to the recession a decade ago. Resources are limited and if there are not resources to meet the basic land-grant mission, how can current programs be expanded and new programs be added?

11:14:09 From Keith Barber: Thank you for answering our UTIA Retirees’ questions. Interestingly, Interim President Boyd’s comments to John Steir’s question is contradictary to how he responded to our question about including UTHSC to help our rankings. The comment in question is in reference to the Univ of Wisconsin Medical Schools… Would he like to reply?

11:17:52 From Keith Barber: Extension and RECs are 400 miles away!

11:27:46 From Sophie Willborn Schmidt : Thanks for providing the video feed.

UTIA-UTK Land-grant Unification Team


UT System

  • Linda Martin, Vice President, Academic Affairs and Student Success (team lead)
  • Carey Whitworth, Assistant Vice President, Government Relations


UT Institute of Agriculture

  • Keith Barber, Vice Chancellor, Institutional Advancement
  • Dave Fugate, Eastern Region Advisory Council member
  • Andrea Ludwig, Associate Professor, Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science
  • Bonnie Ownley, Professor/Graduate Director, Soilborne Plant Pathology and Biological Control
  • Elizabeth Strand, Director, Veterinary Social Work
  • Ty Wolaver, Student, Food and Agricultural Business
  • Hongwei Xin. Dean, UT AgResearch


UT Knoxville

  • Misty Anderson, Professor, English
  • Paul Armsworth, Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • Chris Cox, Department Head, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Shea Kidd Houz, Dean of Students
  • John Zomchick, Vice Provost. Faculty Affairs


Documents & Messaging


Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the UT System doing this?
By bringing the Knoxville campus and Institute of Agriculture together, we will become a true comprehensive research-intensive institution and have the ability to fully leverage our statewide presence. In addition, it would allow us to a create a culture of more collaboration across multiple campuses and institutes, truly bringing together our three-pronged mission of education, research and outreach to benefit the state of Tennessee.

Whose idea was this?
This isn’t a new idea. As we looked at opportunities to create more collaboration across the state, we looked at previous structures of the UT System. After much internal discussion, we decided this was the best way to increase our capabilities for the benefit of the state of Tennessee.

Why the rush and lack of input from faculty, staff, and stakeholders?
The charge from the Board of Trustees meant we needed to rekindle discussions about this partnership immediately. The vote on Friday, June 21, was to approve the action of unifying the two entities. The process of making this collaboration the best it can be begins now with the appointment of a leadership team from UTIA, UT Knoxville, and the UT System to lead the development of a comprehensive implementation plan. The plan will be based on guiding principles and feedback received from internal and external stakeholders through town halls, listening sessions, work groups, and other methods of input. This feedback will be critical in formulating a plan that will elevate both the Institute and UT Knoxville campus.

What does this mean for Tim Cross?
Dr. Cross’s role and responsibilities will increase. His title changes to Senior Vice President of UTIA and Senior Vice Chancellor for UT Knoxville. He will continue to lead UTIA while adding a role with the UT Knoxville cabinet.

What other changes at UTIA can we expect to see?
The only change will be to Dr. Tim Cross’s title. What does not change is the work currently being done on a daily basis to carry out academic, research, and Extension programs across the state. UTIA, and its mission of delivering real life solutions, remains unchanged. UTIA program funding, priority-setting, and personnel decisions will all continue to be handled within the Institute – simply put, the day-to-day work goes on as always.

What will this do for the research rankings?
According to FY ’17 National Science Foundation (NSF) Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) Survey data, UT Knoxville is currently ranked 107 out of 131 R1 institutions, while UT Institute of Agriculture is ranked 170. By combining the two entities, the University of Tennessee will immediately move up the rankings to 84 in the overall national ranking and 55 nationally for public institutions.

Was UTIA not being managed well?
UTIA is performing better than ever. That’s why this is such a strong collaboration.

UTIA has excelled by achieving historic highs in research expenditures of $70 million in FY18. The Institute also set a record for fund-raising, with total gifts, pledges and bequests of $66 million in the same year. UT Extension contacts increased last year, with more than 4.9 million direct contacts and 16 million digital contacts. The caseload for the small animal clinic in the College of Veterinary Medicine surpassed 20,000 patients for the second year in a row, providing both a great learning opportunity for students while also serving the Knoxville area community.

Will positions be eliminated or will titles be changed?

What will happen to leadership team at UTIA? Who will they report to?
The only structural change that will occur is the addition of a reporting line to the UT Knoxville chancellor for Tim Cross. We will not be making additional changes. The UTIA leader will continue to serve as the Chief Academic Officer for the Institute, and be responsible for the Institute’s promotions, performance reviews, fundraising, communications and marketing, facilities, research administration, etc.

Will UTIA lose its logo and brand?
No, this is not a rebranding effort. UTIA will continue to keep its name and logo.

Nebraska has a similar model. What was Dr. Donde Plowman’s role in this?
Dr. Plowman officially begins her new position on July 1 and was not involved in the decision; however, Interim President Boyd has discussed the need and concept with her and she is excited about the collaboration opportunities it creates between the two entities.

The UT Board of Trustees approved a title change for the UTIA leader from vice president to chancellor in 2009. Now we’re changing it back to include the vice president title. What has changed?
The decision in 2009 had unintended consequences as it relates to how UTIA and the UT Knoxville campus report their research activity. While UT Knoxville and the Institute of Agriculture continued to share many services (including one accreditation, the same faculty handbook and all degrees conferred by the UT Knoxville chancellor), by changing the title of the UTIA leader to chancellor, they were no longer recognized as one entity by the National Science Foundation, eliminating the opportunity to combine research reporting and suppressing the research rankings.

How was the team formulated?
Team members were chosen to represent various areas of the institute and Knoxville campus to bring a diversity of ideas and backgrounds. The team will gather and aggregate information and ideas for Senior Vice President and Senior Vice Chancellor for Agriculture Cross, Chancellor Plowman and President Boyd to review and make final decisions.

If you have additional ideas or comments, please contact Linda C. Martin at lcmartin@tennessee.edu.