John E. Caruthers announced today that he will retire effective June 30 as Associate Vice President of The University of Tennessee and chief operating officer of The UT Space Institute.
“It has been a challenge to lead the Institute through the stormy seas of change,” said Caruthers, who was named to the leadership post in April 2001.
“We have made progress in recent months toward getting positioned for a new era at the Space Institute. I am particularly pleased with the recent success of securing new research leadership that will be instrumental in our growth.”
Caruthers joined the UTSI faculty in September 1978 as an assistant professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics. He had previously worked with the Allison Division of General Motors in Indianapolis.
Caruthers later became a full professor and was named Dean of Academic Affairs in 2000. He became the first Jack D. Whitfield Professor of high speed flows in 1995 and two years later became the third UTSI faculty member to be selected as the B.H. Goethert Professor.
“It has been a privilege to have had the career I’ve had at UTSI,” Caruthers said. “To have held two chaired professorships and especially to have been chosen as a Goethert Professor has been most rewarding. Even as a student at Auburn University, studying aerodynamics, I knew who Goethert was and admired his work. It has been very much of an honor for me to one day lead the institution that he founded – this has been like a dream for me. I am deeply appreciative of the history and contributions of the Space Institute to the community and to the nation’s aerospace accomplishments.”
Caruthers said he was pleased to have known many of the major figures who helped establish the Space Institute in 1964. Specifically, he named former state Senator Ewing J. Threet of Manchester, and the late Goethert of Manchester, first director of UTSI, the late Morris L. Simon of Tullahoma and the late Senator Ernest Crouch of McMinnville.
“After a long period of uncertainty,” Caruthers said, “UTSI is now well along the path to prosperity again. I am satisfied that I played a major role in bringing that about with the help of many others here, in Knoxville, and around the state. It was my goal to see UTSI around the corner and headed in the right direction. I believe that is the case now, and it is time for me to make plans to move on to other things while I still have the energy and vitality left to do them.”
Caruthers said he enjoyed and was privileged “to have worked alongside some of the most brilliant and creative scientific and mathematical minds in their respective fields. Perhaps the greatest reward has been to observe the success of our former students over the years.”
He plans to remain at UTSI through UT’s search for a replacement and “to be available to help in the transition to new leadership.”
A native of Lanett, Ala., Caruthers earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Auburn and his Ph.D. at Georgia Tech. He and his wife Susan reside in Tullahoma. They have three grown children, Brian, Ben and Jana.