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Beverly Davenport Fired as Chancellor of The University of Tennessee

UT President Joe DiPietro has removed Beverly Davenport from her role as Chancellor.

She will become a member of the faculty in the College of Communication and Information.

In the termination letter sent to Dr. Davenport, DiPietro laid out seven reasons for his decision:

  1. The relationship between us, as well as that between you (and some members of your cabinet) and some on my leadership team continues to be unsatisfactory. More times than I find acceptable, there has been a lack of trust, collaboration, communication ,and transparency in these relationships, and it has been counterproductive to the collective success of the university.
  2. You would have benefited from a professional coach, and your unwillingness to routinely engage one, despite my recommendation that you do so, has been frustrating.
  3. You have not acclimated yourself to the UT system and still appear unwilling to try to understand or acknowledge the value of the UT system. I continue to detect that you (and some members of your cabinet) have an “us (UTK) vs them (UT system and UT Board)” mentality.
  4. Your one on one, small group, and business transactional communication skills are very poor. I have had multiple people on multiple occasions complain that you do not listen to the person talking to you or pay attention to the details of written communications you receive. I also have received multiple complaints from multiple people about your ability to communicate orally. These complaints are consistent with my personal experience.
  5. Regularly, you have problems with lack of organization, attention to details, timely follow-up.
  6. You have failed to accept ultimate responsibility in some cases where subordinates make mistakes or errors and publicly have blamed administrators who held positions before you or others in dealing with problems you inherited.
  7. You have failed to communicate to the campus a defined strategic vision of where you want to take the institution and a plan for its implementation.

A couple of takeaways: OUCH. A simple “you’re fired” would have probably sufficed. Also, they’re painting Bev out to be incompetent, but they’re allowing her to stay on and teach? Huh.

Davenport’s tenure ends after an interesting fifteen months on the job.

She hired John Currie. John Currie did not do well at Tennessee. The coaching search was a national embarrassment.  There were countless protests and rallies held on campus, including a showing by both a white supremacy group and Anti-fa.

The case for her being in over her head can easily be made. It was a head-scratching decision when she was hired. It seemed like everyone kind of just chalked it up as a response to the Title IX lawsuit and subsequent fallout that Tennessee was involved in. “What’s the best way to look like we respect women? Ah, I got it! Let’s hire a woman to be Chancellor!”

But to many, Beverly Davenport was the face of defiance against the Haslam family.

In October of 2017, Davenport pulled out of the outsourcing contract for state facilities that Governor Haslam had pushed hard as a move that would save the state over $35 million annually. Gov Haslam said “disappointed” him.

In late November, the hire of Greg Schiano was met with anger and disappointment from almost everyone in the state of Tennessee. It was thought that Schiano was the first choice of the Haslam family. Schiano was ultimately not hired because Davenport had never signed the MOU to make it official.

When the UT FOCUS Act to overhaul UT’s Board of Trustees passed at the end of March, Tennesseans were worried that it was a power move by the Haslam family to regain ultimate power to eventually clean house at Tennessee.

What’s the truth? Time will tell. But Beverly Davenport won’t be around to see it.

At least not in a position of power.


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