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Faculty Senate Closes Out a Strong Year, Honors Outstanding Support for the University


During its final meeting of the academic year Tuesday, members of UT Health Science Center’s Faculty Senate celebrated the year’s accomplishments, elected new officers, and honored UT System President Randy Boyd and Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally for their outstanding support of the university and its missions.

Paul ‘PJ’ Koltnow

Outgoing President Paul ‘PJ’ Koltnow, MS, MSPAS, PA-C, praised the members for their commitment and diligence in completing several of the organization’s longstanding projects. “Much of what we have gotten done is because of what has been done before,” he told those attending in person and via Zoom.

Among the accomplishments are:

  • A new procedure for offering multiyear appointments to non-tenure track faculty members. The multiyear appointments can be made at the discretion of the deans, department chairs, and program directors for up to three years, instead of the one-year appointments offered previously. “This is vital to our growth,” Koltnow said.
  • Recommendation for a set schedule for regular replacement of computers and other technology for faculty.
  • Updating the Faculty Handbook for the first time since 2018.
  • An increase in representation on the senate from 93 to 110, including representatives from Knoxville and Chattanooga. “To be part of the growth of UT, this is a shared opportunity for success,” Koltnow said, encouraging new faculty membership.

Chancellor Peter Buckley, MD, who joined the meeting via Zoom from Knoxville, said the faculty organization had a “great year” that exemplified the “strong shared governance model.”

The awards presentation began with two presidential citations from Koltnow on behalf of the senate to “two Randys,” both of whom have made significant contributions to the UT System and UT Health Science Center. As president, he chose to honor UT System President Randy Boyd, “because of your leadership, your energy, and your enthusiasm,” he said. “He’s a tireless energizer for the UT System. He has taught me about how to be a better leader, how to be a better faculty member, and how to represent you as a Faculty Senate.”

Boyd joined via Zoom from Washington, D.C. “It means a lot to be able to get such recognition from our faculty, more than you’ll ever know,” he said. “To say just this is an incredible honor, people always say things like that. But for me, it means something extra coming from the faculty. We have great relationships with all of our stakeholders, in particular with our faculty. It doesn’t mean we always agree, but there’s a lot of times that we have healthy debates.”

Boyd also thanked the second presidential citation recipient, Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally.

“He’s been a tremendous friend for the university,” he said. “It’s been great to have someone like him in our camp.”

McNally, a graduate of UT Health Science Center’s College of Pharmacy, attended the meeting in person, along with state Sen. Brent Taylor and state Rep. Lowell Russell. “I remember my years here fondly,” McNally said. “I can’t tell you enough as to how much I appreciate the honor coming from the university that I attended and graduated from.”

Other year-end awards included:

  • Administrator of the Year: Campus Police Chief Anthony Berryhill
  • Senator of the Year: Terry Cooper, PhD, Harriet S. Van Vleet Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, for his many years of service in the Senate and his leadership of the handbook committee.
  • Senate Executive Committee Leadership Award: PJ Koltnow

The Exceptional Meritorious Achievement Award went to Richard Smith, PhD, associate professor and graduate program director in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, for his 41 years with the university. “I have never seen the faculty and the administration work together like they have in the last six years,” he said. “It’s been a fun time.”

Certificates of appreciation were given to David Mills, director of Government Relations; Kiera Fields, executive administrative aide to the chancellor; and James Haynes, MD, dean of the College of Medicine in Chattanooga.

Chancellor Buckley commended Koltnow for his leadership. “I really appreciate your support,” he said. “The action-packed committee reports speak in substance to a great year.”

Prior to awards, new officers were elected. They are:

Dr. Tracy McClinton
  • Secretary: Ted Cory, PharmD, PhD, associate professor in the College of Pharmacy
  • President-elect: Karen Derefinko, PhD, associate professor in the College of Medicine
  • Advisory Board Representative: Jillian McCarthy, PhD, CCC-SLP, associate professor in the Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology, and a former president of the Faculty Senate

As the meeting concluded, Koltnow ceremoniously passed the gavel to the incoming president Tracy McClinton, DNP, AG-ACNP-BC, APRN, associate professor in the College of Nursing.

Dr. McClinton, who was out of town on a mission trip, addressed the group in a video. “I am grateful for the institutional knowledge of those who have served,” she said. “I am so thankful for our leader. As your 2024-25 Faculty Senate president, I believe as we work together, the best is yet to come.”