The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of retirement activity. It is difficult for me to imagine that as of this writing, after 36 years at UT, I have 4 working days left. I will be here through Thursday, except for Wednesday when I will be at a UT development foundation board meeting in Chattanooga.
“Bittersweet” is a term sometimes used to describe something that is both negative (bitter) and positive (sweet) at the same time.
Bitter: UT, and the CBA in particular, have been such a huge part of my life that it is difficult to walk away. 50% of my life and over 80% of my professional career have been invested in UT. Anything one does that represents that great an investment is difficult to leave, thus the description of “bitter.”
Sweet: We have accomplished so much during my time at UT. I do not take personal credit for this. I have been fortunate to serve in visible positions that often get too much credit. The “sweet” part of this is the various people and teams I have been fortunate to work with faculty, staff, students, alumni, departments, programs, deans office, executive committee, executive education, search committees, other college deans, UT administration, on and on. Without exception, you have been superb colleagues and the accomplishments we have enjoyed have truly been team efforts.
Reflecting on the past is a natural part of retirement. I am convinced that my eight years at the University of Georgia and Texas Tech University were setting me up for coming to UT and assuming the roles I have had here. On those faculties, as well as in my own education, I observed outstanding leaders and learned so much from them, as I did from many of you at UT. Little did I know where those experiences and relationships would lead. Certainly, with hindsight I would have done some different things, and I would have done some things differently, but not a lot. All-in-all, I am satisfied and extremely grateful for the opportunities I have had and the successes we have collectively enjoyed.
What’s in store for the Williams? Two daughters and five grandchildren are pulling us toward Nashville where we now own a residence in the Green Hills area near where both Elaine and I grew up. Over the last 7 months, we have spent several weekends there in a semi-furnished house. We will undoubtedly spend more time there as opportunities with our family increase. On the other hand, our home has been Knoxville for 36 years and our roots here are deep. We will retain a residence here and will be here as much as activities and friendships are available. How we split our time will simply play out over the next few months, but we have every intent of being in Knoxville a significant part of our future.
We appreciate so much the reception on Friday, Feb. 15. The gift of a trip to Alaska was such a wonderful surprise. The trip was already planned, but without my knowing that it would be a gift from faculty, staff, and alumni at UT. (On the way home, I am sneaking in a baseball game in Seattle, one of three major league parks I have left on my wish list.) I had no idea that the AACSB “brass” were coming to the reception. That, too, was a wonderful surprise.
I want to publicly thank Tami and the entire deans office staff for their unfailing loyalty and commitment during my years as associate dean and dean. I see a lot of dean-office staffs in my accreditation work, and ours is the best. Their hard work and loyalty have been more than anyone could expect and certainly more than I deserve. We are good friends as well as professional colleagues and we are all dealing with the void we know will exist.
This week my office things are being moved to a temporary space in Stokely. I will take my time the next few weeks to sort out material and computer files, throwing some away, returning some to the deans office, and retaining some that is personal/professional but not directly UT related. So, don’t be surprised if you see me coming and going on an irregular schedule. (I am told that is what retirees are supposed to do work only when they want to/no alarm clock/no to-do lists.) I have committed my support to Dean Mangum and his leadership team in every way possible. I truly believe the CBA’s best days are ahead, and I am pleased to have played a small part in building the foundation upon which that future will rest.
Jan R. Williams, Dean
Stokely Foundation Leadership Chair
The CBA’s executive committee met at its regularly scheduled day and time on February 19. Below are briefs on the major agenda items.
Tom Ladd briefed the group on the status of the search for a permanent replacement for Ramsey Valentine. The search is ongoing, and additional information will become available as things progress.
Several years ago we developed an approach for managing the workloads of individual faculty members to allow for variation in teaching loads, research and service expectations, etc. With several relatively new department heads, we realized that we have drifted away from the original intent of that policy and some of our newer heads were not familiar with the details of the policy. At an earlier executive committee meeting, we had a preliminary discussion and comments were sent to Annette Ranft. She prepared a revision of the policy that we discussed at this meeting. The next steps are for her to make some additional changes and send a redraft to department heads who will discuss this with their faculties in the next few weeks. After that there will be at least one more discussion at the executive committee, and Steve Mangum will have a chance to weigh in on the statement.
A couple of weeks ago, I made a presentation on the proposed AACSB business and accounting standards to the SEC business deans at a meeting at the University of Alabama. At this executive committee meeting, I presented an abbreviated version of that earlier presentation, and we discussed the proposed standards and how they are likely to affect UT’s AACSB accreditation in the future. I have been involved in writing both the business and accounting proposals and throughout the process have been evaluating how they will likely impact us. I am confident that we are in good shape and will, in fact, benefit from implementation of the new standards. We expect they will be approved in April at the AACSB’s annual meeting in Chicago.
I observed that I had participated in approximately 425 executive committee meetings over the course of my almost 25 years as department head, associate dean, and dean. Reflecting back, I have seen a lot of change in how the committee works. My general impression is that the group has been effective in leading the college and our various departments and programs. We have lots of spirited discussions and have often disagreed, but at the same time maintained respect for varying opinions. While I look forward to a less stressful schedule and life with fewer meetings to attend, I expect to actually miss the discussion and opportunities to significantly affect the direction and success of the CBA. The CBA’s executive committee has been a productive and even inspiring group of which I am pleased to have been a part for so many years.
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