News from the Hill, Summer 2013

Spotlight on Steinway Initiative, new administrators, and freshman class


School of Music Completes All-Steinway School Initiative

Music students at UT will learn on only the best pianos in the world at a new facility that now bears the international mark of music excellence.

The School of Music is officially an All-Steinway School, thanks to the successful completion of an initiative to raise more than $3.5 million to purchase sixty-eight new Steinway & Sons pianos to either replace or add to its existing inventory.

The university joins an elite group of institutions worldwide that have the All-Steinway status. To receive the designation, at least 90 percent of an institution’s pianos must be Steinway-designed.

The pianos were moved into the School of Music’s new Natalie L. Haslam Music Center during the week of August 5, just in time for the new building to open its doors to students August 21.

“These are the finest instruments you can play on, and to allow our students to study and perform on them is exceptional,” said Jeffrey Pappas, director of the School of Music, which is housed in the College of Arts and Sciences. “What humbles me the most is that there are people who believe in our school so much that they want us to have the finest instruments. The quest for excellence and distinction continues as we walk through these doors.”

Internationally, more than 150 universities, conservatories, and schools worldwide are classified as All-Steinway Schools, including the Oberlin Conservatory, the Cincinnati Conservatory, and the Cleveland Institute.

UT alumnus Jim Powell and his wife, Sandy, were among the first to support the All-Steinway initiative and led it to a successful completion. Fifty-eight donors contributed to the campaign.

“Sandy and I feel strongly that our students deserve the opportunity to develop their talents on the best pianos in the world, so we are thrilled about the School of Music’s new All-Steinway designation,” Powell said. “We can’t imagine a better place to show off the Steinways than in the new Natalie L. Haslam Music Center.”

The new Steinways will include upright pianos and grand pianos, bringing to 116 the total number of pianos in the School of Music.

The All-Steinway designation enhances the university and School of Music’s national profile, said Theresa Lee, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

“Achievement of all-Steinway status certainly positions our School of Music in competitive advantage as we strive to retain and attract the best and brightest faculty and students,” she said.

Learn more about the School of Music.


College Names Associate Deans for Graduate Studies and Diversity

The College of Arts and Sciences has appointed two new associate deans to enhance the college’s graduate studies and diversity initiatives.


Brent Mallinckrodt

Brent Mallinckrodt, professor of psychology, has been appointed associate dean for graduate studies, and Angela Batey, James Cox Professor of Music, has been appointed associate dean for diversity.

“Both of these positions relate directly to the strategic goals of the college, its units, and the university,” said Theresa Lee, dean of the college. “Improving the quality and diversity of graduate students is critical for recruiting top faculty and advancing our research productivity.”

Mallinckrodt will work closely with department heads to enhance the college’s success in recruiting diverse and highly qualified graduate students. He’ll also work with the college team to seek additional graduate student support for raising graduate student stipends to more competitive levels. His position is a half-time appointment and represents a partial restoration of a full-time position lost during past budget cuts.

Mallinckrodt has extensive experience with graduate studies, having served as director of graduate studies in Counseling Psychology from 2007 until 2011. Under his leadership the Counseling Psychology Program faculty and students received the American Psychological Association Innovation in Graduate Education Award. Prior to joining UT in 2007, Mallinckrodt served as director of graduate studies at the University of Oregon and the University of Missouri, where he garnered numerous awards for his work in graduate mentoring and advising.


Angela Batey

Batey will put the college’s diversity plan into action, working in collaboration with Rickey Hall, vice chancellor for diversity, and with the college’s associate deans for academic personnel and graduate studies. They will develop recruitment policies and procedures for both faculty and graduate students designed to attract more diverse candidates. Her position is a newly created quarter-time position.

Batey recently served as interim director of the School of Music and is director of choral activities, associate director of graduate studies, and the James R. Cox Professor. She conducts the Chamber Singers, teaches conducting courses at the graduate levels, and is widely recognized as a prominent conductor, clinician, adjudicator, and teacher since joining UT in 1995.

Other associate deans serving on the college administrative team include Cynthia Peterson, professor of biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology and associate dean for academic personnel; Robert Hinde, professor of chemistry and associate dean for academic programs; and Christine Boake, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and associate dean for research and facilities.


College Announces Department Leadership Changes for New Academic Year

Two of the twenty-one departments in the College of Arts and Sciences have new leadership this academic year. Two department heads were appointed for another term.

Daniel Roberts was appointed department head in Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology beginning August 1. Roberts earned a PhD in biochemistry at the University of California–Davis and was a research associate at the Vanderbilt School of Medicine before joining UT in 1987. His research focuses generally on membrane water and solute transport processes of plants and calcium-modulated proteins, targets, and plant defense responses, and has attracted continuous external funding throughout his tenure at the university. He is the recipient of a Chancellor’s Award for Research and Creative Achievement, the Lamar Alexander Prize for excellence in undergraduate teaching and research scholarship, and awards from the college acknowledging his excellence in teaching and academic outreach. He has served as the department’s associate head for graduate affairs, director of the Tennessee Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, and most recently program director with the National Science Foundation for the past two years.

Former department head Cynthia Peterson resigned last year to accept an associate dean position with the college. Engin Serpersu served as interim department head.

Also effective August 1, Ernest Freeberg will assume leadership of the Department of History. Freeberg is a distinguished professor of the humanities and the Beaman Professor of the Humanities. He served as associate head of the department from 2008 to 2011. Freeberg joined UT in 2003 and has built a stellar career of accomplishments. His numerous honors include the Eli M. Obler Book Award from the American Library Association in 2010 and the American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship in 2011–2012. In the past year, he published The Age of Edison:  Electric Light and the Invention of Modern America (Penguin, 2013). Other recent publications include the Los Angeles Times Book finalist Democracy’s Prisoner:  Eugene V. Debs, the Great War, and the Right to Dissent (Harvard University Press, 2008), and The Education of Laura Brigman, First Deaf and Blind Person to Learn Language (Harvard University Press, 2001), winner of the AHA Dunning Prize.

Freeberg replaces former department head Thomas Burman, who resigned this year at the end of his five-year term.

Dottie Habel was re-appointed director of the School of Art, and Jeffrey Becker was reappointed head of the Department of Microbiology. This is the second term for both Habel and Becker, and their reappointments were strongly endorsed by the faculty in their respective units. Department head and school director appointments in the college are typically for five-year terms and may be renewed for additional terms.

Dean Theresa Lee expresses gratitude to Engin Serpersu for his service as interim head of the Department of Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology and also to those who served on the search committees to fill the position vacancies.

“Filling these positions with able leadership is critically important,” Lee said. “The department heads and directors of the academic units play key roles in the administration of the college, and their leadership is a pivotal factor in the college’s progress in our strategic goals as we work together to advance the college and the university.”

In addition, seventeen departments welcomed new faculty to their ranks this term as a result of the college’s success in making a case for additional faculty lines last year.


Class of 2017 is Larger, Has Record Number of Honors Students

More than 4,300 freshmen—the biggest class in nearly a decade, with the most honors students ever—began classes on Wednesday, August 21.

The incoming freshmen are an academically accomplished group, with average ACT scores and high school GPAs putting them among the top 10 percent of high school graduates statewide.

The freshman class is about 100 students larger this year, partly due to the campus’s improving graduation rate freeing up seats for incoming students.

Other facts about the incoming freshmen:

  • Their average ACT score is 27, and seven freshmen had perfect ACT scores.
  • Their average high school GPA is 3.86, and about 46 percent had a high school GPA of 4.0 or higher.
  • They hail from forty-seven states and ninety-one of Tennessee’s ninety-five counties. About 87 percent are Tennessee residents.
  • The class is 19 percent minority and includes more international students

Read more about the 2013 freshman class.