published Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

Steve Angle's UTC appointment official

New UTC chancellor Dr. Steven Angle, left, and University of Tennessee President Dr. Joe DiPietro pose for a portrait on a balcony in the atrium of UTC's University Center Friday.
New UTC chancellor Dr. Steven Angle, left, and University of Tennessee President Dr. Joe DiPietro pose for a portrait on a balcony in the atrium of UTC's University Center Friday.
Photo by Doug Strickland.

Steve Angle's day was more efficient than yours.

Angle, his wife and two children boarded a University of Tennessee private plane in Dayton, Ohio, Friday morning, landed in Chattanooga around 10 a.m., drove straight to the UTC campus, sat through meets and greets and news conferences and photo ops, then flew back home by 4 p.m.

And in between, around 2 p.m. Friday, the UT board of trustees voted to approve Angle as the next chancellor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. This was Angle's second visit to the campus.

"You're going to work hard no matter where you go," Angle said. "But you want to go to a place where working hard can be fun, too. ... I place a very high value on this gut feeling. This is going to be a good place."

UT system President Joe DiPietro called Angle on Monday night to let him know he would nominate Angle as UTC's next chancellor. DiPietro said Friday he liked Angle because of his experience as a chemistry professor, a researcher and a provost for five years at Wright State University in Fairborn, Ohio.

"It's very rare that you have the opportunity to have a person with those kinds of talents come to a place like Chattanooga," DiPietro said.

He and Angle appeared together for a news conference Friday at UTC.

Angle, a senior vice president at Wright State, succeeds Roger Brown and will make $318,000 per year. That is $92,505 more annually than Brown made, though unlike Brown, Angle will have to pay for his own housing.

Angle said he has run ideas past former provost Phil Oldham and ate lunch with some students to hear what they want to change. On Friday morning, Angle emphasized three things that are most important for UTC: filling the athletic director and provost positions, building a relationship with other city leaders and improving graduation rates.

Though he won't officially start the job until July 1, Angle wants the university to hire a provost by the end of May. He wants the candidates to tour campus before summer while a lot of students still are around, and he also wants a decision early enough so the candidate will be able to start by the beginning of the fall semester.

Angle would not provide any specific job requirements for the provost. He just said he wants someone who will fit in at the university.

He said he needs to play catch-up on the specifics of the school's search for a new athletic director.

He could not say Friday how much money he thinks the school should dedicate to sports, but he called the athletic department "the front door of the campus." People who aren't connected to UTC may come to a game, and then they connect with the school, and then they give money.

"When you're in an arena cheering on a basketball team that's going to go to an NCAA Tournament -- wow, it's magical," he said. "The relationships and bonding there, with the community, with the campus, it's huge."

As far as building a relationship with the rest of the city, Angle said the school needs to add a middleman between the school and local companies. It should be someone who can set up job and internship interviews and follow up on potential openings at local companies when everyone else is too busy, he said.

Angle also faces pressure to improve UTC's graduation rates.

Of the students who enrolled in 2006, only 38 percent graduated by the end of last year. That's a rate about 20 percent lower than average at public schools, according to the most recent study at the National Center for Education Statistics, though those numbers are about two years older than UTC's data.

Regardless, graduation rates at UTC are perhaps more important now than ever. Under the Complete College Tennessee Act, about 80 to 85 percent of the state's funding of public colleges and universities is based on outcomes such as graduation rates.

To improve this, Angle said he wants to strengthen UTC's advising system. He wants counselors to receive alerts when students take classes they don't need for their major or let their GPAs slip.

But all that is four months off. For now, he's just looking ahead to his second afternoon in Chattanooga.

"What a day," he said. "For us, for our family."

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