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President Petersen Stops at UTSI on Annual Campus Tour

University of Tennessee President John Petersen visited the UT Space Institute on Thursday as part of his annual campus tour.

Beginning with UT Chattanooga on Sept. 9, and followed by visits to UT Martin and the UT Health Science Center on Sept. 22 and 23, Petersen is in the midst of a series of day-long stops at each of the UT System’s five campuses. The visits also include meeting with employees of UT’s statewide Institute of Agriculture, Institute for Public Service, and those with varied UT entities in the Nashville area. Campus and institute leadership are outlining strategic priorities and needs for the coming fiscal year, and faculty and staff are discussing issues and concerns at informal question-and-answer sessions with the president. At UTSI, Petersen was also briefed on several areas of research currently going on at the Institute.

“The University of Tennessee has a presence in all 95 Tennessee counties — a statewide campus — and critically important obligations as the state’s land-grant institution to develop an educated workforce, to drive economic development and to enhance quality-of-life opportunities for all Tennesseans,” Petersen said.

“It takes all of us in the UT family throughout the state to fulfill our obligations, and these visits offer key opportunities for meeting face-to-face, listening to each other, and working together on sometimes tough decisions for moving the University forward despite a challenging economic climate.”

He also addressed potential concerns about the status of the UT Space Institute in light of budget difficulties. “This is a one-of-a-kind place, and no one in their right mind wants to give up a one-of-a-kind place, so that’s not in my mind,” Petersen said.

He urged UTSI faculty to pursue major research grants and opportunities to be entrepreneurial while encourging all employees to look for ways to “cut the bottom line and increase revenue.”

Petersen commended UTSI Interim UT Associate Vice President Dr. Angie Bukley on her leadership. “I’m enormously pleased with the effort that Dr. Bukley has put in on your behalf,” he said, noting that a nationwide search for UTSI’s new leader is expected to begin at the start of 2009.

At several sites, including an additional stop in Kingsport, Petersen also is meeting with elected officials, business leaders, educators and UT trustees. Those meetings include discussions of priorities for partnering to achieve the University’s mission for the good of the state.

This campus tour is the fourth annual swing across the state for Petersen, who has been president of the UT System since 2004.

Remaining scheduled stops include:
Sept. 29: Northeast Tennessee community leaders, Kingsport
Oct. 1: UT Institute for Public Service
Oct. 2: UT Institute of Agriculture
Oct. 7: UT Knoxville
Oct. 10: Nashville-area UT faculty and staff

PETERSEN AT UTSI’S FLIGHT SIMULATOR—UT President John Petersen is shown above trying his hand at one of UTSI’s flight simulators as Borja Martos, a faculty member with UTSI Aviation Systems, coaches him from behind.
–UTSI Photo by Lisa Lehman