Monday, August 6, 2007
Writer: Shanna Relford
UT President Visits UTSI
University of Tennessee President John Petersen visited The University of Tennessee Space Institute on Wednesday and emphasized the university’s responsibility to serve the entire state in a luncheon with area civic and business leaders and a meeting with university faculty and staff.
The UTSI stop was part of a week-long series of visits to each campus in the UT System. After touring UTSI’s Aviation Systems facility at the Tullahoma Airport, Petersen met with elected officials, university trustees, educators and business leaders during a luncheon held at the Staggerwing Museum also at the Tullahoma Airport. He told area civic and business leaders that, with a presence in all 95 counties, the University of Tennessee touches the lives of all Tennesseans.
In addition to educating students, Petersen emphasized, the university’s broad mission is to drive the state’s economy. UT stimulates economic activity through research, technology and workforce development, ultimately enhancing quality of life for all Tennesseans, he said.
Petersen also met with UTSI faculty and staff in a question and answer session. He outlined the university’s recent accomplishments and noted that every employee played a key role in achieving them. Petersen acknowledged the importance of the recent pay raise funded by the state legislature as critical support from Tennessee leaders and citizens for higher education. He told the faculty and staff that the university will continue to seek fair pay and strong benefits.
He also praised several UTSI programs, and encouraged the UTSI group to keep doing what they’re doing and to do it better than anyone else.
In particular, Petersen discussed UT’s exciting new biofuels research. While the project is still in the early stages of research, Petersen said that if it is successful, “grassoline” could be available at the pump within the next 10 years. He also emphasized that the venture would benefit the entire state, especially some of the rural areas where the switchgrass would be grown and ethanol manufacturing plants would be built.
“When we grow the grass here, when we harvest the grass here, when we manufacture the ethanol here, when we blend it here and pump it here, every dollar that we generate for that fuel is generated by Tennesseans and stays in Tennessee,” said Petersen.
Petersen concluded his campus tour on Friday in Knoxville. The tour began on Monday, July 30 at UT Martin and took the UT President all across the state before returning to Knoxville on Friday, Aug. 3.