Chancellor Owen to Take Steps to Restore Public Confidence

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University of Tennessee President John Petersen has announced that following a frank discussion about accountability and public service, UT Health Science Center Chancellor Bill Owen will be taking steps to restore public trust.

University of Tennessee President John Petersen today announced that following a frank discussion about accountability and public service, UT Health Science Center Chancellor Bill Owen will be taking steps to restore public trust.

“While I have enormous regard for Chancellor Owen’s intellect, experience and talent, I have discussed with him the need to restore and rebuild public confidence in the institution in light of recent events,” Petersen said.

In addition to Dr. Owen’s recognition of the critical need for public confidence in the university, Petersen specified that Owen will repay expenses related to the services of an interior decorator and any other items that might be found to be an exception to University policy.

Owen will also accept full responsibility for the Health Science Center, and fully adhere to university policies.

“I take full responsibility for past decisions and actions I have taken as Health Science Center chancellor and for what has occurred as a result of those decisions,” Owen said. “I recognize that the confidence of some members of the public has been damaged. I am, today, committing to restore that trust and to renew my commitment to my role as a public servant on behalf of the University of Tennessee.”

While integrity and trust are important for all public institutions, Petersen noted those are critical issues for UT in light of the university’s recent history.

Statement from Dr. John Petersen:
“As president of the University of Tennessee system, I place the highest priority on the public trust we hold. In the last few weeks, that confidence in our Health Science Center has been shaken, and the public and our trustees have raised concerns.

“To address this, and to restore and reaffirm public confidence in the University, Chancellor Owen has announced he will take the following steps:
Repay expenditures for the services of an interior decorator and any other items that might be found to be an exception to university policy.
Accept full responsibility for the Health Science Center and fully adhere to university policies.
Recognize the critical importance of the public trust and use judgment to preserve and restore that trust.

“I have a great deal of confidence in Bill Owen’s abilities, talents and vision for a world-class Health Science Center. By focusing his efforts on accepting responsibility and rebuilding the public trust, I believe he will be able to successfully carry out our vision for a UT Health Science Center dedicated to improving the health of all Tennesseans.”

Statement from Chancellor Bill Owen:
“Over the last few weeks, there has been much concern about the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and, frankly, a loss of public confidence.

“After discussion with UT President Petersen today, I want to announce concrete steps I will institute so that we can restore public confidence in the University. First, to put some issues behind us, I will reimburse the University for the services of an interior decorator at the chancellor’s residence and any other items that might be found to be an exception to University policy.

“Next, I want to state clearly and for the record that as chancellor, it is my responsibility to oversee the operations and procedures of the Health Science Center and to ensure that these decisions are made in full accord with university policies and the expectations of the board of trustees. I accept this responsibility and pledge my commitment to do this fully. In so doing, I also pledge my commitment to restoring the public trust.

“I take full responsibility for past decisions and actions I have taken as Health Science Center chancellor and for what has occurred as a result of those decisions. I recognize that the confidence of some members of the public has been damaged. I am, today, committing to restore that trust and to renew my commitment to my role as a public servant on behalf of the University of Tennessee.”