Weakley County mayor accepts UT Martin chief of staff position

The University of Tennessee at Martin will welcome Weakley County Mayor Jake Bynum as the university’s chief of staff effective May 1, 2024. Dr. Yancy Freeman, UT Martin chancellor, notified university students, faculty and staff following Bynum’s resignation announcement during the March 18 meeting of the Weakley County Commission. 

The chief of staff is a new UT Martin position that will manage major university projects and initiatives under the chancellor’s direction and will serve as executive director of the WestStar Leadership Program, the university’s longtime regional leadership-development program. The person will also have administrative responsibilities for the university’s Ned Ray McWherter Institute, which serves as a leadership and personal-development program for UT Martin students.

The position will provide a link between the chancellor and several university groups, act on the chancellor’s behalf with those groups, and serve as a liaison to the University of Tennessee Office of Government Relations and Advocacy and the UTM Office of the General Counsel.

Bynum of Dresden, who served three consecutive terms as Weakley County mayor, is a UT Martin graduate and holds a master’s degree in leadership and public service from Lipscomb University in Nashville. He graduated from Harvard Kennedy School’s Executive Education Program in 2022 with a Certificate in Authentic Leadership. Bynum also graduated from the WestStar Leadership Program, Leadership Weakley County, the Delta Regional Authority Leadership Institute, Complete Tennessee Leadership Institute and Leadership Tennessee.

“I’m pleased that Mayor Bynum has accepted this important position, which immediately becomes a key post in the university cabinet,” Freeman said. “He’s a proven leader who brings energy, enthusiasm and tremendous organizational skills to UT Martin. Mayor Bynum will make an immediate impact on the university and those we serve.”

“I have had the great honor of serving the citizens of Weakley County since 2014,” Bynum said. “During my tenure, it has been my privilege to work alongside commissioners, elected and appointed officials, staff, and volunteers committed to the success of Weakley County.”

Bynum added, “The progress of Weakley County depends on more than just the position of the mayor but more on the cooperative effort of all those involved in the decision-making and implementation. For the benefit of the citizens of Weakley County, I pray for the continued success of you all and the advancement of Weakley County.

“UT Martin is the single most impactful organization in Weakley County and West Tennessee. I am extremely excited to assist Chancellor Freeman and the university faculty and staff to advance the mission and impact change for the future of the region.”

Bynum formerly worked in banking before being elected to the mayor’s seat in 2014. He was re-elected two more times in 2018 and 2022. During his time as mayor, Bynum has served as president of the Tennessee County Mayors Association, chairman of the Northwest Tennessee Development District and Human Resource Agency, trustee of Union University, a member of the Tennessee Board of Pharmacy, and the governor’s Early Literacy Foundation.

Bynum and his wife, Alyssa, a third-grade teacher at Dresden Elementary School, have two children, Ella and Nash.

UT Martin is a primary regional campus in the University of Tennessee System offering bachelor’s degrees, majors, concentrations and options in more than 150 specialized fields and eight graduate degrees. In addition to the main campus, the university has five regional centers in Jackson, Parsons, Selmer, Ripley and Somerville, as well as a new location at Volunteer State Community College-Springfield in Middle Tennessee. Online programs are offered through UT Martin Online.

The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Learn more at www.utm.edu or contact the UT Martin Office of University Relations at 731-881-7615.                                                        

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