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UT Martin to host finalists for provost, VCAA position


Contact 1: Erin Chesnut


MARTIN, Tenn. – A search committee from the University of Tennessee at Martin has identified four finalists from a national candidate pool in the search for a new university provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. Each candidate will participate in an open forum session during which members of the campus and area communities can discuss topics of interest.

All open forums will begin at 3:30 p.m. in Watkins Auditorium on the first floor of the Boling University Center. All sessions are open to the public and will be streamed live online for those unable to attend. Webcasts and additional information on the search progress can be found at

A schedule of appearances is below:

• Dr. James Brown, Jan. 22
• Dr. Steven Ralston, Jan. 23
• Dr. Philip Cavalier, Jan. 25
• Dr. Norma Burgess, Jan. 29

Brown is currently dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania. In this position, he is responsible for supervising more than 150 faculty and staff members, promoting teaching and scholarly activities, and overseeing the university’s Center for Visual and Performing Arts, Center for Community Research and Consulting, and Institute for Culture and Society. Brown holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in English from Slippery Rock University and The Ohio State University.

Ralston is the provost and vice president for academic affairs at Morehead State University in Kentucky, where he oversees four academic colleges, several success and development centers, the honors program, college library and other areas relating to the academic success of university students. He holds a bachelor’s degree in speech and theatre from Old Dominion University, a master’s degree in speech communication from the University of Tennessee and a doctoral degree in communication theory and research from Indiana University.

Cavalier most recently served as provost of Lyon College in Arkansas, where he was responsible for working with areas such as curriculum and program development; faculty support and shared governance; student support and persistence initiatives; accreditation; and assessment. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Swarthmore College, a master’s degree in English from Northeastern University and a doctoral degree, also in English, from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Burgess is the founding dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Lipscomb University in Nashville. She is also a professor of sociology and family studies. In this position she has helped develop three new graduate programs; establish a student and faculty exchange program with Hong Kong Baptist University; launch an annual Student Scholars Research Symposium; and improve Peer-to-Peer faculty development programs. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from UT Martin and both master’s and doctoral degrees from North Carolina State University in public affairs and sociology, respectively.

UT Martin launched a national search for a new provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs in spring 2017 after Dr. Jerald Ogg, who first accepted the position in 2011, decided to return to the faculty in the UT Martin Department of Communications. Dr. Richard Helgeson, formerly dean of the UT Martin College of Engineering and Natural Sciences, was selected to fill the position for a one-year interim term when the original search ended without a candidate being hired.

The vice chancellor for academic affairs is UT Martin’s chief academic officer. This position articulates a vision for academic affairs, provides leadership for the academic planning process and is responsible for the university’s core academic mission. The university provost directs the institution in the chancellor’s absence.

The search committee, chaired by Dr. Philip Smartt, professor of park management in the UT Martin Department of Agriculture, Geosciences, and Natural Resources, includes UT Martin faculty, staff and student representation.

Ashlie Czyz, director of human resources programs and executive recruiter for the University of Tennessee System, is serving as executive recruiter for this position. For more information on the search process, contact Czyz at


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