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Biddix Named Jimmy and Ileen Cheek Endowed Professor

Professorship Will Enhance Continued Excellence in Teaching, Research, and Service

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences (CEHHS) has announced J. Patrick Biddix as the Jimmy and Ileen Cheek Endowed Professor. Biddix is a professor of Higher Education in the college’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS). Biddix is the first person to be named to an Endowed Professorship in the college.

Patrick Biddix standing on left side of picture receiving endowment award from Jimmy Cheek standing on the right

Jimmy Cheek presents Patrick Biddix with the Jimmy and Ileen Cheek Endowed Professor award

An endowed professorship is among the highest academic awards a university can give a faculty member. It is intended as both an honor to the recipient and as an enduring tribute to the individuals bearing the name of the award. Typically made as a five-year renewable appointment by the Provost, the award is a distinguished title that recognizes the faculty member for their contributions and provides resources for continuing their research, teaching, and student mentorship.

The Jimmy and Ileen Cheek Endowed Professorship was created through an endowment by donors as a way to honor and recognize the contributions of the Cheek family to the university. Jimmy Cheek was as Chancellor of the university from 2009-2018, and served as a chancellor emeritus and distinguished professor in the ELPS until 2022.

“Jimmy and Ileen Cheek leave a tremendous legacy at UT, especially in their service to students. I am both honored and humbled to be associated with their names and the enduring mark their work continues to leave at the university,” said Biddix.

Biddix is well-positioned to take on this new responsibility. He was a Fulbright Scholar in 2015 (Montreal, Canada) where he studied student engagement and success. Among his scholarly achievements, he has written or edited 10 books in the past 8 years, two of which are standard texts in the field of student affairs. He is considered the national expert on fraternities and sororities and currently is engaged in an multi-institution, interdisciplinary project to address mental

Patrick Biddix holding award posing for picture with group of people

Pictured left to right: Dean Ellen McIntyre, Ileen Cheek, Erika Biddix, Patrick Biddix, Jimmy Cheek, and Provost John Zomchick

health issues, alcohol misuse, and hazing. He has worked on several state-sponsored grants to study Tennessee Promise and currently works with the Division of Student Success and the Office of Diversity and Engagement at UT on numerous impactful projects related to student success.

After graduating as a first-generation college student from UT in 2001 (Classical Civilization), he returned to UT as an associate professor in 2011 and was promoted to full professor in 2016. He has served as program coordinator, associate department and interim department head, and associate center director. He has been the recipient of the CEHHS John Tunstall Outstanding Faculty Award (2015), the Helen B. Watson Outstanding Faculty Research Award (2019), and most recently the CEHHS Dissertation Advisor of the Year (2022).

Biddix is married to Erika, a successful entrepreneur and advocate for women. He is the father of three active children. His oldest son (Jackson, 14) is an accomplished high school tennis player, and Biddix has yet to beat him in a match. He credits his daughter (Clare, 12) as a magical source for his writing and believes that his youngest son (Benjamin, 9) will be the next classist in the family.

Through its eight departments and 12 centers, the UT Knoxville College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences enhances the quality of life for all through research, outreach, and practice. Find out more at