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UT Executive Leadership Institute Announces 2023 Cohort

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2023 Executive Leadership Institute

Knoxville – Twenty-five faculty and staff members, representing each University of Tennessee campus and institute and overseeing critical functions across the UT System, have been selected to be part of the fourth Executive Leadership Institute class.

This 12-month program, created by UT President Emeritus Joe DiPietro in 2018, was designed to prepare internal candidates for senior leadership roles.

Led by Bob Smith, special adviser for executive leadership and talent development to the UT president, the institute offers attendees special development plans, executive coaching, mentoring and experiential learning. The class meets six times throughout the year for multi-day leadership sessions. Participants were nominated by their supervisors and competitively selected by campus and institute leaders.

The institute complements existing programs within the University and is part of succession planning efforts to address upcoming workforce needs.

“Exceptional leadership is critical to our higher education system and the people that serve it,” UT System President Randy Boyd said. “We want to ensure that there are ample opportunities for great leaders within our system to emerge, develop and reinvest in their campuses and communities.”

The 2023 Executive Leadership class members are:

UT System

  • Austin Oaks, assistant vice president for capital projects
  • Bernie Savarese, acting vice president for academic affairs and student success
  • Jeannie Tennant, assistant director and senior business partner, human resources

UT Knoxville

  • Betsy Adams, assistant dean of operations and strategy, Haslam College of Business
  • Lamar Bryant, associate vice chancellor of strategic initiatives, Division of Diversity and Engagement
  • Brad Collett, director, Tennessee Riverline
  • Beth Foster, director of the Tombras School of Advertising and Public Relations
  • Tom Gill, Smith chair in international sustainable agriculture
  • Sean Patterson, assistant chief of police, UT Police Department
  • John Schmisseur, executive director, UT Space Institute

UT Chattanooga

  • Cassie Mathes, vice chancellor of communications and marketing
  • Matt Matthews, vice provost for faculty affairs and academic policy
  • Abeer Mustafa, associate vice chancellor

UT Southern

  • Brandie Paul, associate vice chancellor and director of athletics

UT Martin

  • Dominique Crockett, director of equity and diversity, Title IX coordinator
  • Andy Lewter, vice chancellor for student affairs
  • Anderson Starling, interim chair, department of accounting, finance, economics and political science

UT Health Science Center

  • Ashley Harkrider, chair, department of audiology and speech pathology
  • Wendy Likes, dean, College of Nursing
  • Charlie Snyder, associate vice chancellor, student success
  • Nick Verne, senior associate dean, College of Medicine, Department of Medicine

UT Institute for Public Service

  • Paul Jennings, executive director, UT Center for Industrial Services
  • Jon Walden, executive director, UT County Technical Assistance Service

UT Foundation, Inc.

  • Mike McCay, assistant vice president and executive director, UT Alumni Association
  • Lance Taylor, executive director of advancement operations


More information about the institute, including attendee biographies, is available at


Melissa Tindell
505 Summer Place, UT Tower #1236, Knoxville, TN 37902

Natalie Keener
505 Summer Place, UT Tower #1241A, Knoxville, TN 37902

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Category: Employees