Dr. Philip W. Conn served as the seventh chancellor of the University of Tennessee at Martin from 1998-2000.
Conn was born in Decatur, Alabama, on Jan. 4, 1942, to Charles William and Edna Louis Minor Conn. His parents relocated to Cleveland, Tennessee, where he graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1960. Conn attended Kentucky's Berea College, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology in 1963. In 1964, the Council of Southern Mountains in Berea, Kentucky, named him associate director of Appalachian Volunteers. The following year, he served as a field representative for Volunteers In Service To America in Washington, D.C., and was part of the initial staff of the domestic Peace Corps. In 1966, he traveled to the Netherlands and attended the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, where he received a diploma in social policy.
When Conn returned home in 1967, the Bradley/Cleveland Community Action Corporation employed him as assistant executive director and project coordinator. He returned to Berea College the next year as director of alumni affairs, editor of The Berea Alumnus and placement director. In 1971, he worked on the gubernatorial campaign of Bert Combs and Julian Carroll as public relations advance director in Louisville, Kentucky. Later that year, he enrolled at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and earned a Master of Arts degree in sociology. After completing graduate work at UT Knoxville, he served as research specialist and executive director of the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission in Frankfort and had become vice president of research and development by 1977.
He later became vice president for university and regional services for Morehead State University in Kentucky. While serving as vice president, he attended the University of Southern California and received a master's degree in public administration in 1982. Three years later, he was hired as vice president for university advancement at Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg. During his vice presidency, he continued graduate work at the University of Southern California and earned a doctoral degree in public administration in 1991. In 1994, he became president of Dickinson State University in North Dakota, where he served four years as the college's executive officer. Conn then accepted the chancellorship at UT Martin in the summer of 1998.
Conn saw the college through several years of major change, including the reorganization of the university system around core research institutions. He accepted a brief re-assignment as vice president for special projects under then-UT President Wade Gilley before leaving the UT System to accept the presidency of Western Oregon University, where he served until his retirement in 2005.