UT Faculty, President Clash on New Mission Statement

By: Jim Freeman
By: Jim Freeman

Knoxville (WVLT) - Defining the relationship between the University of Tennessee System and the UT-Knoxville Campus is on the front burner right now.

UT President John Petersen’s recently proposed "Mission of the University" statement, attempts to define that relationship, but it's creating some turbulence in the process.

Volunteer TV’s Jim Freeman's been following this story.

But after talking to folks on campus, the feeling is that this is going to be resolved, some even calling it an historic opportunity.

At issue is UT President John Petersen's recently proposed "Mission of the University" statement mainly where the Cherokee Farms research campus is concerned. The proposal would place the farm under the UT system rather than under the Knoxville campus.

"It's never been clearly established the relationship of what is the responsibility of the UT system and what is the responsibility of the Knoxville campus,” says UT professor Dr. David Patterson, president of the Faculty Senate.

Though there may be some turbulence at the moment.

"It's been a significant concern that there really was no faculty input into this mission statement,” Dr. Patterson says.

Dr. Patterson sees it as an opportunity, "This is not a crisis, but it does present a wonderful opportunity to really carefully examine how the entities relate to each other."

University public relations told WVLT that Chancellor Loren Crabtree and President John Petersen are not speaking to the media while they work through this matter, but did release this statement:

"Chancellor Crabtree is working closely with President Petersen to discuss the issues at hand and plans to reach a conclusion in the coming weeks. We plan to update the university community at that time."

And faculty input is now being considered. Chancellor Crabtree sought and received input from the entire faculty as well as the Faculty Senate. In fact, there were more than 350 responses from the faculty that are being taken into account in the discussions.

"While this is a bit of turbulence, students are still working hard, faculty is still focused on their research, and that we're moving forward to become the great institution that we can be," Patterson says.

Dr. Patterson adds that he feels both Crabtree and Petersen have the interest of the state, the students, the faculty and the institution in the forefront of their endeavor.

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