February 27, 2024

A look back at Chancellor Plowman’s first year

A look back at some important events that occurred during Chancellor Donde Plowman’s first year at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Donde Plowman has been the chancellor of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville for over a year now. That year, however, provided many challenging situations for Plowman, employees and students alike.

As chancellor, the campus has depended on Plowman to address the various events that have taken place both on and off campus.

The Pandemic

UT has had to almost completely remodel their everyday practices to ensure the safety of their students and employees due to COVID-19. On March 11, Plowman announced to the campus that all classes would transition online for the remainder of the 2020 spring semester despite there being no confirmed COVID-19 cases in Knox Co. at the time.

Since her initial COVID-19 announcement on March 5, Plowman has had to consistently update the public on the changes here on campus.

Plowman announced that 2020 summer classes would be online only on April 2, 2020.

Plowman has and still is consistently reminding those apart of the UT community how important their role is in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

“These measures may seem strange at first as we all adjust to a new normal, but they are intended to keep our campus healthy and to prevent the spread of COVID-19. For these precautions to be effective, however, it will take everyone committing to follow the guidance,” Donde said in a June 15 update about new social distancing precautions on campus.

Racial Injustice and Religious Discrimination

This was not the only significant event during Plowman’s first year as chancellor.

George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed in police custody on May 25, 2020. Floyd’s death sparked outrage and nationwide protests against police brutality.

On May 30, 2020, Plowman address Floyd’s death and sent a campus announcement titled, “His Name is George Floyd.”

“George Floyd. His name is George Floyd and he should be alive today. Sadly, the list of black people in America subjected to violence is long and getting longer,” Plowman said in the announcement.

She continued by emphasizing the importance of racial equality on the UT campus.

“We must do better. Vol is a Verb, and action is important. We will continue the hard work to create a campus where everyone matters and belongs.”

Afterward, Plowman posted an update sharing how she and other campus leaders are addressing UT’s shortcomings when it comes to racism.

Plowman had to address an act of hate speech on campus towards the start of her tenure as Chancellor. In Sept. 2019,  Plowman announced the installation of 24-hour live surveillance of the Rock, after the campus landmark was vandalized with an anti-Semitic message.

“Hate aimed at one Vol is aimed at all Vols,” Plowman said in the announcement.

Plowman is now in her second year as chancellor and there is no doubt Plowman will have to continue addressing important events both locally and nationwide in these unprecedented times.

Featured image courtesy of Maddie Torres