UT president DiPietro readying for retirement move to Illinois

Though it hasn’t been officially announced, University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro will soon be retiring, according to a Victor Ashe column. His contract doesn’t expire until June of 2019, but the former Knoxville mayor says he will “probably” leave this fall.

It is a badly kept secret on campus as Deborah DiPietro, his wife, has used Facebook extensively for the past few weeks outlining her packing up their Knoxville home on Old Kent Drive.

Recently, a large Northwestern moving van was taking most of their furniture from this house to the one they have bought in Champaign, Ill. DiPietro will soon place the Knoxville house on the market and move into a condo. Ms. DiPietro describes herself on Facebook as both “sad and excited” about the move. She says this next house “will be our last.” The house is virtually empty on the first floor as the Facebook photos show.

…Since the UT board is now on notice that a new president must be installed in the near future, it is fair to ask what plans are underway. Who will make up the search committee? Haslam has announced he will not seek the job and says the governor should come off the board. Haslam attends infrequently. Will there be an interim president as Jan Simek was? Or will the search start in the next few months?

Will the board do another national search or go local? The last four UT presidents were the result of a national search, and each of the three before DiPietro – Wade Gilley, John Shumaker and John Petersen – was fired. National searches have not been a winning formula for UT. Homegrown presidents such as Andy Holt, Ed Boling, Joe Johnson, Emerson Fly and Jan Simek (interim) have done much better. Johnson as president emeritus remains active today and highly regarded.

Will the current board, which may be reduced in size from 27 to 15 or 13 in the next few months, hire the new president before the next governor is chosen this November or will it be deferred until that person can weigh in? Will the two speakers gain appointments to the board as some legislators desire?

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