Columnist Victor Ashe sees some irony in Haslam hosting farewell dinner for outgoing UT trustees

Gov. and Mrs. Bill Haslam, along with Raja and Michelle Jubran, will host a farewell dinner at Cherokee Country Club for the outgoing UT board of trustees on June 21, according to Victor Ashe’s latest column. He sees some irony in the event.

Both Haslam and Jubran are going off the board. The governor will no longer be a member and Jubran surrendered his seat to prevent other casualties (but four others went with him, including Knoxville’s Sharon Pryse). It will be a large but perhaps bittersweet event with all 26 board members, UT administrators such as UT president Joe DiPietro, interim chancellor Wayne Davis, friends, leading alumni, and area lawmakers attending.

This will mark the final meeting of the outgoing board. The new, smaller 11-member board takes office with eight of the 11 seats filled. Haslam at his request will no longer serve, but five of the six major candidates for governor have said the governor should remain on the board and they would faithfully attend if they were a member. Word is if the next governor wishes to serve on the board, the legislature will change the law to restore the governor to membership.

It is unclear whether Haslam will fill the three vacant seats before he leaves office in January. They, too, would have to be confirmed by the legislature to continue beyond a 90-day grace period next year. Given what happened to Pryse, Jubran and three others, some citizens may not want to put themselves up for potential rejection. The next governor, who takes office in mid-January, could withdraw these trustee nominees and then submit his or her own.

The irony of this is that, but for the governor’s proposal and yeoman efforts to reduce the board size, several of the people being honored would still be on the board. Once the legislature was given the chance to vote on each member, the Senate Education Committee effectively removed any nominee who has been on the previous board or was a registered lobbyist.

Interim UT chancellor Davis has abolished the designated parking spot for the chancellor at Andy Holt Towers garage next to the elevator and returned to the general pool of parking spaces. His predecessor, Beverly Davenport, created it for herself and was the first chancellor to ever insist on her own personal designated parking space. As a new professor of communications on July 1, she will not have a designated parking space.

This is a small matter in the scheme of things, but it triggered considerable negative comment and jokes about Davenport when it became public, as parking is scarce on the UT campus and other UT leaders such as DiPietro did not have their own parking space.

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