Knoxville – University of Tennessee Southern Chancellor Mark La Branche has announced plans to retire from his current role effective June 30. The University of Tennessee System will name an interim chancellor in mid-June and launch a search for La Branche’s replacement later this year.
La Branche became the inaugural chancellor of UT Southern on July 1, 2021 after the acquisition of Martin Methodist College (MMC) by the University of Tennessee System to provide stability during the early stages of transition to a public university.
“In its first year, the UT Southern team has made tremendous progress, experiencing phenomenal enrollment growth, great gains in the area of student success, and record fundraising,” said UT System President Randy Boyd. “Chancellor La Branche has decided the time is right to move forward with finding the next Chancellor to lead UT Southern into the future.”
Before full retirement, La Branche will serve as special assistant to UT President Randy Boyd. Part of his role will include writing a book on the merger of MMC with UT that can be a historical reference and serve as a guide to both UT and universities around the country on how a small liberal arts college can merge with a large public university system and transition successfully.
“The creation of UT Southern simply could not have happened without Mark’s vision and focus on what’s best for the university and the people of the region. During this year of transition, his leadership has resulted in a nearly flawless integration from a private college to a public university system while increasing enrollment, retention and fundraising. Myself, the UT System and the State of Tennessee owe him an incredible debt of gratitude,” said Boyd.
“I simply cannot express what an extreme honor it has been to strive together with President Boyd, the UT System and UT Southern teams to bring about this transformation,” said La Branche. “My wife, Mona and I, are grateful to remain a part of the University of Tennessee family now and forever.”
La Branche joined Martin Methodist as president in July 2017. Prior to joining Martin Methodist College, La Branche served as the president of Louisburg College in North Carolina and senior vice president of external affairs at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama.
The addition of UT Southern represented the fourth undergraduate college within the UT System, and the first new campus since UT Chattanooga joined more than 50 years ago. Additionally, UT Southern is the only four-year and graduate institution of higher education between Sewanee in the east and Freed-Hardeman in the west, serving a southern Middle Tennessee region of 13 counties near the Alabama border.
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