KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Wednesday marks the first day in University of Tennessee Chancellor Beverly Davenport’s term. She is the eighth chancellor in the university’s history.
Davenport comes to the University of Tennessee from the University of Cincinnati, where she was interim president. Before that, she served as senior vice president for academic affairs and provost for three years at the university.
“I have a lot of listening to do. I have a lot of people I want to hear from,” she said during Wednesday’s news conference.
She replaced Chancellor Jimmy Cheek, becoming not only the university’s first female chancellor but also the highest-paid chancellor in the University of Tennessee Knoxville’s history.
Chancellor Davenport says she’s honored to be UT’s first female chancellor and is grateful for the opportunity.
“I think it’s just another step toward having women recognized as being in huge leadership roles and I think that’s amazing that she’s going to be one of the first female chancellors,” said junior Lindsey Gilbert.
Over the coming years, Chancellor Davenport hopes to connect education from K-12 to college, better preparing students for higher education. She also wants to work on partnerships with the state, including Oak Ridge National Lab.
“Every university in the country would give their eye or teeth to have a national lab in their backyard. It’s an amazing asset this university has, one that I hope to capitalize on even more,” added Chancellor Davenport.
She also explained how UT will find their independence when working with lawmakers establishing goals and guidelines, “It’s getting our message out there and doing it consistently and clearly and often and repeatedly.”
“I do hope she considers us over politics or us over money. That would be a good first to see,” said freshman Emmanuel Nyenwe.
In 2016, one heated decision made by lawmakers was to defund the Office of Diversity and Inclusion by redirecting thousands of dollars. When asked what’s next, Chancellor Davenport explained, “There will be funding and I will only be on a campus where every student is supported and made to feel welcome and important and safe. I wouldn’t be on a campus if I wasn’t committed to and wouldn’t find revenue to support programs for all of our students.”
The most popular question was about who the next athletic director will be. Chancellor Davenport says the search team is looking quickly and she listed the qualities they’re looking for.
“Administrative experience, management experience, people who have integrity, people who will not budge on issues of compliance, who know compliance, who’ve dealt with tough compliance issues, people who have been at a big program like this.”
While Wednesday was only her first day, students say they’re looking forward to meeting their new leader.
“I hope that it’ll show a difference here on campus. I hope with her ideas and her obviously being diverse from other chancellors, that we will see her impact,” said senior Juliet Quebatay.
There are issues Chancellor Davenport says she needs to learn more about, things like bringing back the Lady Vols name, outsourcing, and tuition.
Davenport’s base salary is $585,000 annually, along with up to $95,000 in additional compensation. She will also be eligible for bonuses beginning July 1, 2017.