The new Chancellor of the University of Tennessee, Dr. Beverly Davenport, took office in Knoxville on February 15, 2017. She is taking over the post previously held by Dr. Jimmy Cheek, who served for just over eight years before stepping down to rejoin the faculty. Dr. Cheek’s legacy is one that will not soon be forgotten, as almost everything he did was met with…feedback from students on campus and those in the larger Tennessee community.
“Dr. Cheek was so, so good at knowing exactly what the students wanted,” said Davenport. “I mean, all I have to do is keep doing what he did, and I’ll be totally golden. I really can’t believe the university and the students here let him step down, but I guess that’s just another example of how nice people are down here in the South.”
Davenport confirmed that she would continue Cheek’s much-heralded practice of tuition increases every autumn, with no plans of stopping in the coming years. “The best way to achieve our goal of becoming a top-25 research university is to continue to require larger financial commitments from our current students,” explained Davenport. “It’s like, totally simple, we can use this extra money to attract better students in the future, and our current students can enjoy this feeling of investing in UT’s future.”
Davenport was also questioned about her commitment to increasing diversity at UT, another cornerstone of Dr. Cheek’s tenure in Knoxville. “Oh my gosh, what Jimmy did for diversity here was great,” said the new Chancellor. “He was so effective that our legislators didn’t see any point in continuing to use state funds for the Office of Diversity. When we’re at the point where we don’t even need an office anymore, I think it’s pretty clear there isn’t anything left for me to do.”
The first months on campus will be crucial for Davenport, as students will undoubtedly compare her to the lofty standards set by her predecessor. Only time will tell if Davenport’s positive impact on the university will be able to compare to that made by Jimmy Cheek. Thankfully, it seems that Cheek himself has ensured it will be as easy as possible.
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