The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Tickle College of Engineering

University of Tennessee Donors Establish the Wayne T. Davis Endowed Dean's Chair in Engineering

On October 4, 2013, during the 175 Years of Engineering at the University of Tennessee Celebration Gala, Mr. John D. Tickle, a UT industrial engineering alumnus and primary donor for the John D. Tickle Engineering Building, announced the establishment of a new $3 million endowment fund that will enable UT's current dean, Wayne T. Davis—for whom it is named—to propel the Tickle College of Engineering forward in exciting new directions. The Wayne T. Davis Endowed Dean's Chair in Engineering was named in recognition of Davis' extraordinary service and leadership by John and Ann Tickle, and Tickle's fellow UT industrial engineering alumni Chad Holliday, and his wife, Ann; Joe Cook, and his wife, Judy; and Eric Zeanah, and his wife, Elaine.

The endowment offers recognizable prestige for the individual who is selected to receive the chair position. The dean’s chair also builds the reputation of the engineering college and its academic program.

"During the years that Wayne Davis has served as dean of the Tickle College of Engineering, he has shown tremendous leadership," said Tickle. "Not only is he a leader in the engineering college, he is also one of the driving forces in the race to make the University of Tennessee a Top 25 public university."

The dean's chair qualifies for the university's Chancellor's Faculty Support Challenge, which provides immediate funding as a donor pays for a gift pledge. This support, supplied by the chancellor's office for the first five years from the time the endowment is established, is worth approximately 13.5% of the value of the endowment over a five-year period. Based on a total of $3 million, the endowment will generate $135,000 per year. Although the dean's chair recipient will receive a small stipend, the majority of the additional funding will be used to advance the educational mission of the college.

"An endowment that establishes a dean's chair is tremendously important," said Dr. Susan Martin, who as provost is the university's chief academic officer. "It is a visible affirmation of the importance of great leadership in the academic enterprise."

Since taking on the leadership of the college in March, 2009, Davis' tenure as dean has been marked by numerous impressive achievements, including growth in college enrollment by 37% at the undergraduate and 62% at the PhD levels; the hiring of nine out of eleven UT- ORNL Governor’s Chairs in engineering via partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and, in conjunction with Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek, creating a successful proposal to Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam that motivated the governor to commit an additional $3 million in funding to the UT Tickle College of Engineering beginning fiscal year 2014 to promote growth and enhance educational initiatives.

"Dean Davis has spent his professional career serving the University of Tennessee, and he has been an outstanding dean of engineering," said Holliday, chairman of the board of Bank of America Corporation and the former CEO of DuPont. "My wife, Ann, and I are proud to honor Dr. Davis by joining with the Tickles, the Cooks, and the Zeanahs to establish the Wayne T. Davis Endowed Dean's Chair in Engineering. As a UT industrial engineering alumnus, I have great faith in his leadership, integrity, and dedication to the Tickle College of Engineering and his vision for the future of engineering at UT."

"We are pleased to support honoring Wayne Davis with an endowed chair in engineering. Dean Davis epitomizes the highest quality of leaders with his focus on serving others and being accountable for outcomes," said Cook, the principal and co-founder of Mountain Group Capital in Nashville, Tenn., former chairman of Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and former group vice-president, Global Operations, for Eli Lilly and Company. "This award recognizes the outstanding progress the Tickle College of Engineering has experienced under Dean Davis' guidance and sets a high mark for those who follow"

Since 1974, Davis has served UT and the COE with distinction and integrity. As a faculty member he was principal investigator or co-principal investigator on eighty-five research grants. His expertise in air quality has earned him accolades including the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007 from the Institute of Professional Environmental Practice. He was named Macebearer in 2002, the top honor accorded faculty at UT. The award is given to a faculty member who has exhibited longstanding exemplary service to the university, its students, and society.

"Wayne's dedication to our Tickle College of Engineering and the University of Tennessee has been seen in so many ways over his tenure," said Zeanah, the president/owner of American Accessories International in Knoxville and the incoming chair of the college’s Board of Advisors. "Supporting him with this honor was an easy decision as it is rare to have an opportunity to work with someone who has both the vision and ability to move things forward."

"The endowment provides me with unique funds that can be used to respond to critical nonrecurring needs of the college, whether it be for faculty/staff awards, assistance to special student projects, or for critical laboratory renovation/equipment needs," Davis said. "The beauty is that it is an endowment and 'forever' generating funds on an annual basis that can be used by me or a future dean to further the mission of the college and its programs. I am also deeply appreciative and humbled that the dean’s chair was named in my honor and that I will be the first dean to hold the chair."

For more information on the Wayne T. Davis Endowed Chair in Engineering, contact Kim Cowart, Director of Engineering Communications at (865) 974-0686/ or Whitney Heins at (865) 974-5460/


Contribute to a big idea. Give to UT.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Big Orange. Big Ideas.

Knoxville, Tennessee 37996 | 865-974-1000
The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System