Chancellor Jimmy Cheek spoke at his final Cheek Speak on Tuesday, Oct. 25 before stepping down as the University Chancellor next semester.
The event was held in the Haslam Business Building and was filled with students, faculty and staff who had a series of questions about important issues relating to UT and the student body. Also in attendance were other administrators including Senior Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, Chris Cimino, Interim Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, Matthew Theriot, Interim Vice Chancellor of Communications, Jacob Rudolph and Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Life, Maxine Davis.
Cheek began the discussion by reflecting on his time at the University of Tennessee and told the attendees what stuck out to him the most during his tenure as Chancellor. “We have the largest and best freshman class we have ever had in our history, so more people are coming here to be Volunteers and secondly we have solved some of the major problems that we identified when I first came like course scheduling. We have also improved the graduation rate,” Cheek said. He also mentioned the construction going on and “getting UT football back to where it belongs.”
Cheek also reflected on his opportunity to work with great people, including students and alumni, during his time in Knoxville.
It is still undecided where Chancellor Cheek will be serving as faculty in the Spring, but he said he is interested in teaching graduate classes in the field of educational leadership and policy. Cheek is greatly looking forward to switching roles as he believes that “interacting with students is one of the best things to do on campus.”
Some students in the audience had specific questions for the Chancellor, including the Pride Center. Cheek said that expectations of students must be raised and faculty and staff need to ensure an inclusive and welcoming space for all Vols.
He also believes that everyone on campus needs to be aware of the differences in the Volunteer family by educating new Vols on diversity and inclusion during Welcome Week activities, summer First Year Studies (FYS) courses and General Education courses.
The final Cheek Speak gave students, faculty and staff the opportunity to thank Chancellor Cheek for all of the work he has done on campus while asking questions about the future of the University. The next Chancellor will have similar events to interact with Volunteers.
Featured image by Peyton Mooneyhan
Edited by Kaitlin Flippo