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Jimmy Cheek Inducted into Educators Hall of Honor

Jimmy Cheek, Chancellor Emeritus and Director of the Postsecondary Education Research Center

Jimmy G. Cheek

Jimmy G. Cheek is Chancellor Emeritus and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Higher Education in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Former Director of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville Postsecondary Education Research Center.

Cheek became the seventh chancellor of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, on February 1, 2009 and stepped down from that position on February 15, 2017.

Within a year of taking office, he accepted the Governor’s challenge for UT to become a Top 25 public research university in the United States. This aggressive initiative sparked exciting momentum around improving undergraduate education, graduate education, research, campus infrastructure, and securing additional financial resources which included approval by the Board of Trustees of differential tuition for 4 colleges and the 15-4 tuition model. In 2012 the campus launched a private fundraising campaign, Join the Journey, with a goal to raise $1.1 billion by 2020.

A first-generation college student, Cheek set in motion several initiatives to increase diversity and student access to the university. A vice chancellor for diversity and engagement was created. The university’s work on improving access led to Cheek’s participation in two White House Summits on increasing college opportunity for low-income students.

Prior to his appointment at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Cheek was the Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Florida. He also served as Dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS), As dean, Cheek oversaw the development of four new degree programs and eleven undergraduate minors.

Cheek became Assistant Dean of the College in 1992 and served in the role for seven years prior to becoming Dean. During his tenure as the assistant dean, enrollment increased 120%, the number of degrees conferred doubled, early admission programs with the College of Dentistry and the College of Veterinary Medicine were launched, and an off-campus program was initiated at Milton. Cheek was hired at the University of Florida in 1975 as an Assistant Professor of Agricultural Education and Communication and became Professor in 1985. In 1981, he was appointed Assistant Department Chair and served in that role until 1992.