Boyd recommends Nebraska’s Plowman as UT-Knoxville chancellor

Randy Boyd speaks to reporters in Nashville on July 25, 2018. The former Republican gubernatorial candidate was nominated to serve as interim president of the University of Tennessee on Sept. 19, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Interim University of Tennessee President Randy Boyd is recommending Donde Plowman to become the ninth chancellor of the system’s flagship campus in Knoxville.

Plowman is the executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“Under Donde’s leadership, I am looking forward to an exciting, successful and transformational future,”  Boyd said in a release. “Her student-first approach, her reputation as a dynamic leader and collaborator and her great love for the UT Knoxville will be great assets as we work together to advance the university and the state of Tennessee for many years to come.”

If approved by the board, Plowman will succeed Beverly Davenport, school’s first female chancellor who was fired last year amid criticism of her handling of UT’s botched football coaching search, her rejection of then-Gov. Bill Haslam’s outsourcing initiatives, and (especially among lawmakers) for the ongoing student-led Sex Week activities on campus.

Here’s the full release from the University of Tennessee:

Following an extensive national search, the University of Tennessee System has selected Donde Plowman as the ninth chancellor of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Plowman, currently executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, will be recommended to the Board of Trustees during a special meeting on Friday, May 3 at 9 a.m. in the Student Union, room 377A, Executive Dining Room (1502 Cumberland Avenue, Knoxville). Pending board approval, her first day at UT Knoxville will be July 1, 2019.

“The most important responsibility I have as the UT System interim president is to hire an outstanding person to lead our flagship campus in Knoxville. Under Donde’s leadership, I am looking forward to an exciting, successful and transformational future,” UT Interim President Randy Boyd said. “Her student-first approach, her reputation as a dynamic leader and collaborator and her great love for the UT Knoxville will be great assets as we work together to advance the university and the state of Tennessee for many years to come.”

UT Board Chair John Compton said he was thankful for Boyd’s leadership and the search committee’s work.

“After meeting with Dr. Plowman, I could not be more thrilled with the opportunity to present her candidacy as chancellor of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville to the full board of Trustees next week,” Compton said. “She brings a distinguished track record of professional success, has a contagious energy to challenge higher achievement and brings the servant leadership of the Volunteer spirit that we all desire.”

Plowman served previously on the UT Knoxville faculty and led the management department in the Haslam College of Business.

Reporting to the president, the chancellor is responsible for the administration and management of the campus and aggressively promotes continued development of its academic programs, research productivity and national reputation of excellence, built upon a commitment to access, diversity and student success.

“I could not be more thrilled to return to this great university, which is so important to the vitality of the state of Tennessee,” Plowman said. “To lead this campus, and help the students, faculty and staff realize their dreams for UT Knoxville, is the greatest honor of my life and I can’t wait to get started.”

Boyd also recognized UT Knoxville Interim Chancellor Wayne Davis for stepping in to lead the Knoxville campus.

“I want to thank Chancellor Davis for his servant’s heart in leading our Knoxville campus over the past year. I greatly appreciate his leadership during this time of transition,” Boyd said.

As executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Plowman operates as the number two administrative position for the campus and oversees academic affairs, student affairs, the Office of Research Economic Development and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Prior to being named executive vice chancellor, she served for more than six years as the James Jr. and Susan Stuart Dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Under Plowman’s leadership, the college increased enrollment by 35 percent in six years, added 70 new faculty, created several new academic programs, including the College of Business Honors Academy, the Clifton Strengths Institute and many student services. She led a major fundraising effort that resulted in nearly $150 million, including $84 million for a new building that opened in August 2017. In that time period the college moved up in the US News & World Report rankings of undergraduate business programs from No. 72 to No. 45.

Prior to coming to Nebraska, Plowman was on the management faculty at UT Knoxville from 2007 to 2010, serving as department head of the department of management for two years. She began her academic career at the University of Texas at San Antonio as an assistant professor of management and advanced to the position of professor and associate dean for graduate studies and research, where she was responsible for the creation of the doctorate degree in business.

Plowman received her undergraduate degree with a major in English from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. She holds a master’s in higher education administration from the University of North Texas. She received her doctorate in strategic management from the University of Texas at Austin.

In 2015, Plowman received the “Inspire Woman of the Year Award,” given by the Lincoln Journal Star. She has twice been named one of the 30 Most Influential Women in Lincoln and in 2016 received the Noddle Distinguished Development Service Award from the Nebraska University Board of Trustees in recognition of her fundraising efforts as dean of the College of Business.

Plowman is married to Dennis Duchon, a professor of management and department chair at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She has two sons Kevin Ashmos and Chijioke Onuoha, who reside in Austin, Texas.

The search committee, chaired by Keith Carver, chancellor of the University of Tennessee at Martin, launched the chancellor search in January and was conducted by a committee of faculty, staff, students and alumni community members. The committee invited four candidates to campus earlier this month. For details about the search process visit the search website: tennessee.edu/execsearch/ut-knoxville-chancellor/.

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