Joe DiPietro

UT President Joe DiPietro announces retirement

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro announced today that he will retire Feb. 14, 2019.

He will step down from active service Nov. 21 to use his remaining vacation time.

DiPietro has led the University of Tennessee System as UT’s 25th president since January 2011. He serves as the chief executive officer of UT and its campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Martin, the Health Science Center in Memphis, the statewide Institute of Agriculture and the Institute of Public Service.

“I am very proud of all we have accomplished together, which would not have been possible without the important efforts of our talented faculty, students, staff and administrators and the steadfast support of the Board of Trustees,” DiPietro said. “The university is well positioned for success—we are coming off a record-breaking year in research funding as well as private fundraising, and we have a committed group of chancellors and system administrators to move the university forward.”

John Compton, chair of the UT Board of Trustees, praised DiPietro. “We should all be thankful for Joe’s leadership. He and the former Board of Trustees accomplished a great deal together. All stakeholders in the university system have been well-served by his tireless commitment to continual improvement across all of our campuses. Our new board will convene soon to discuss next steps in selecting a new leader for the University of Tennessee System,” he said.

During DiPietro’s tenure, he oversaw a record four years of low tuition increases, including a zero percent tuition increase this year for UT Knoxville and UT Chattanooga. In 2017, UT research achieved a record-high, system-wide $481 million in sponsored-program expenditures. The UT Foundation experienced a record fundraising year of more than $397 million given during the 2017-2018 fiscal year. The record year of giving included the naming of two colleges at the UT Institute of Agriculture and UT Chattanooga, which join two other colleges named at UT Knoxville since 2014. The UT Institute of Agriculture and Institute for Public Service made more than five million contacts with Tennesseans statewide.

DiPietro also oversaw the construction of the Cherokee Farm Innovation Campus and its growth to two buildings that provide laboratory and work space for private industry, researchers and scientists affiliated with the university and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. UT was also chosen to lead the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, a $259 million public-private partnership, during DiPietro’s tenure. Under his leadership, more than 240 projects totaling more than 11.5 million square feet were constructed or renovated across the system. Those projects reflect investments of more than $727 million by the state and more than $1.25 billion by the university.

When notified of an impending $377 million shortfall by 2025, DiPietro established the Budget Advisory Group. Through cost cutting, reallocated funds and unexpected increases in state allocations, the projected shortfall has been erased.

“I did not want to kick dealing with this problem down the road,” DiPietro said. “It was important for me to leave the university in good financial shape, and now, thanks to hard work by faculty, staff and the Board of Trustees as well as increases in state appropriations for the last seven consecutive years by the governor and legislature, we are.”

Funding has rebounded since a 25 percent budget cut of state appropriations in 2012 following the Great Recession. Compared to 2013, UT’s funding has grown by almost $164 million, a 38 percent increase in fiscal year 2019.

Donations in honor of DiPietro can be made to the newly established Joe and Deb DiPietro Endowment for Leadership Development. The endowment will provide support to assist UT employees in developing their leadership skills and understanding leadership’s role in higher education.

The endowment will be used to provide funding for the Executive Leadership Institute, which DiPietro established to help with succession planning for the university. It also will provide scholarships for participants. The institute will host its first cohort this fall, and DiPietro plans to teach part-time in the program.

Before serving as system president, DiPietro led the Institute of Agriculture for five years from 2006-2011. He previously served as dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida and was a tenured professor and associate dean for research at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, where he conducted research on the biology and control of parasites in horses and other domestic animals.

DiPietro plans to retire to Illinois and spend time with his wife, Deb, and their three children and six grandchildren.

For more information, contact Jennifer Sicking, assistant director of media relations for the UT System, at 865-974-5179 or email


Chancellor Keith Carver and UT President Joe DiPietro
Chancellor Keith Carver (left) and UT President Joe DiPietro are pictured in Carver’s office.
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