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Common Ground

This month marks the end of Dr. Bonnie Ownley's term as Faculty Senate president, and she has done an excellent job leading the senate during the past year. Several other UTIA faculty also hold leadership roles with the senate, and it is very rewarding to work with them as they address issues and work to carry out the University's mission.

Interviews for the UT Extension dean position will be conducted later this month, and I hope you will make time to meet the four finalists, listen to their seminars, and participate in the interview process. This is a key member of our UTIA leadership team, and I value and appreciate feedback and input from faculty, staff, and stakeholders following interviews with the candidates.

UTIA federal and state appropriations are expected to be stable for the coming fiscal year. Our administrative team is making plans to manage our budgets wisely and respond proactively to new opportunities. We have been involved in discussions about the possibility of establishing a genomics center, initially focused on beef and other livestock, to conduct research and produce graduates with unique skills and knowledge who can advance this growing field. Watch for more news about this initiative in the next few months.

Our annual field days hosted by AgResearch are underway. We hope you'll have time to promote and participate in ones near you to support the impactful research going on at UTIA. You can see the complete list of upcoming field days by clicking here.

For those of us who enjoy fresh local fruits and vegetables, it's a great time of year. Be sure to get out and pick up some fresh berries, tomatoes, cucumbers, or other crops to support our Tennessee farmers and also enjoy a healthy lifestyle. June is National Dairy Month, so that provides a great reason to enjoy a bowl of ice cream, too. Join me and my daughter, Hannah, in posting a photo of your favorite ice cream flavor on your social media sites with the hashtag #tnmagicmoments. You just might win a gift certificate to a local ice cream shop!


P.S. Be sure to follow me and the latest Institute developments on Twitter at @UTIAChancellor.

Celebrating Our Graduates & Taking Stock

by Dean Jim Thompson, UT College of Veterinary Medicine

Four years ago, the College of Veterinary Medicine received 743 applications and 411 men and women were invited to interview for the eighty-five seats available in our class of 2017. Last month, we were privileged to welcome those eighty-five doctors into the profession of veterinary medicine. Read about results of their exit survey. More...

Highlighting Mini-term: CASNR Goes Abroad

Bear blood transfusion

As the mini-term session came to a close at the end of May, faculty and students from the five UTIA faculty-led courses returned home. Through the courses, CASNR students expanded their knowledge in the areas of food, fiber, and natural resources systems, bringing a global perspective to UTIA’s slogan, 'Real. Life. Solutions.'

Study abroad opportunities for CASNR students are vast. Some students study abroad an entire year, some spend a semester abroad, and others select a mini-term opportunity. The percentage of CASNR students studying abroad is on the rise. Learn more...

In Marketing & Communications, Big Honors for Two

Two members of the UTIA Office of Marketing and Communications have received national recognition for their work by the Association for Communications Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Life and Human Sciences (ACE).

ACE is an international association of communicators, educators, and information technologists. Explore the impacts Charles Denney and Doug Edlund are having on their profession. More...

Celebrating Sick Leave Bank's Guiding Hand

Bear blood transfusion

In May, we honored Morgan Gray, right, for his dedication to the Institute's sick leave bank and the many individuals it has served. Morgan is a founding trustee and chair of the bank. He holds the position of analyst in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. For twenty-five years, he has contributed his time to review employee applications and, through the bank, assist when serious health issues arise. Morgan also determined how certain long-term retirees may donate their excess sick leave to terminally ill employees, at no cost to themselves in diminished assets.

His service has meant so much to so many. Although Morgan is stepping down as a trustee, his impact will continue to affect the lives of many UTIA employees. Congratulations, Morgan, and thank you for your outstanding service.

Upcoming Field Days

The 2017 field day season is in full swing with three field days now complete. Still to come this month—the UT Gardens Green Industry event on June 20 in Knoxville and the Tobacco, Beef and More Field Day, held June 22 at the Highland Rim AgResearch and Education Center. Then on July 13, UT AgResearch hosts the Summer Celebration Lawn and Garden Show at the West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center.

The "Grass" Tacks

The American Forage and Grassland Council has declared the third week of June as National Forage Week. Gary Bates, professor of Plant Sciences and director of the UT Beef and Forage Center, serves on the AFGC board of directors. Bates says the AFGC wants to encourage producers and the general public to think about the importance of forage to our national beef and dairy industry by spreading the word through social media.

The primary outreach will be through Facebook and Twitter. Look for announcements and fun forage facts to share June 18-24 at facebook.com/afgcorg and twitter.com/americanforage.

I AM UTIA—Meet Dr. Pierre-Yves Mulon

UTCVM Assistant Professor of Farm
Animal Medicine & Surgery

Video capture

What do you do in your work?

As part of the Farm Animal Medicine and Surgery Service, I divide my time mostly within the farm animal hospital, classroom and hands-on teaching, and research. In clinics, there is no normal day as many of our patients arrive on short notice, and the variety of the cases is so broad that it would be impossible to even start thinking of being bored! I love the multispecies aspect of my job, as well as the diversity of cases that come through the door—from the premature, fragile cria, to the lame, more or less fractious bull.

How long have you been with the Institute?

Although I have been at the College less than one year, I am lucky to work on a daily basis with extremely dynamic and collegial colleagues. This makes the day fly by. I also enjoy the diversity of the people from around the world working together for the benefit of our patients, adding ideas, strength, and expertise to assure the best care possible. Having such extraordinary people close by allows a constant flow of innovative ideas.

What is the best part of your job?

In addition to being in the surgery suite, I enjoy teaching and working with the students. What I like is their dynamism and their thirst to learn. They are our fuel, the reason to come here every morning. Every one of them is singular, and all bring to the classroom or to the clinical rotation their questions, their experiences.

Other thoughts?

I was born in Burgundy, France, and I always loved to be around animals; my uncle and aunt's farm was my second home, and I wanted to do like them. I loved to process the herd and administer dewormers and vaccines, trimming the feet, being on lambing and kidding watch, and more simply feeding the herd with hay and concentrates. One day I was allowed to watch a caesarian section on a ewe; that was so impressive, I knew what I wanted to become. That perception was strengthened by shadowing a hometown mixed-practice veterinarian from the age of thirteen until the day I earned my degree. I always felt I had been lucky to meet him and will stay forever extremely grateful to him; he really transmitted his passion for our profession to me.

Uplifting Garden Education & Therapy

Education is central to the University of Tennessee, and in the UT Gardens, Knoxville, garden education and therapeutic horticulture have connected men and women, youth, and children who might otherwise never wander into our gardens. This therapy and outreach that Derrick Stowell and his team provide the region depends on donor funding. This year's UT Gardens' Gala featured a special fundraiser focused on support specifically for this important educational programming. While the Gardens has a long way to go before the programs are fully funded, members were able to raise almost $10,000 this spring to sustain the Gardens' education mission in Knoxville.

Watch a video about the Gardens' outreach. Read about Derrick Stowell's impacts in a preview article for Tennessee Land, Life & Science. Visit AdvanceUTIA.com/UTGardensEdu if you would like to support and sustain Gardens education in Knoxville.

Collaboration Award for UTCVM's Robert Wang

Bear blood transfusion

Dr. Hwa-Chain Robert Wang, a UTCVM professor and researcher, is the recipient of one of three UT Collaborative Research Network Awards in Cancer Research.

The monetary awards are designed to promote new lines of team-based research and collaborative partnerships among cancer investigators across the UT System in hopes these projects will ultimately draw external funding. More...

Awards for Two in Institutional Advancement

Two professionals with UTIA Institutional Advancement have received significant awards recognizing their impacts.

The National Agricultural Alumni and Development Association presented administrative assistant Robin Haefs with its Frontline Award.

Angelia Nystrom, director of specialty programs for UTIA, has been recognized with the UT Foundation Inc.'s Board of Directors Award.

Read how each significantly advances fundraising and friend-raising for UTIA that, in turn, advances our programs and people. More...

Kitten Inspires Fifth Graders to Fund FIP Research

Renowned animal health researcher and professor emeritus at the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Al Legendre recently visited Knoxville's Garden Montessori School to thank them for their generous gift toward research at UTCVM. Amelia Griffith, a fifth grader at the school, wanted to do her part to find a cure for the often fatal disease, feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), after losing her adopted kitten, Garfunkel, to it. Amelia and her fellow classmates raised nearly $500 through a bake sale. The students donated the money to the UT College of Veterinary Medicine for the purpose of FIP research.

"It was hard to say goodbye to our sweet family member but getting the word out and raising money at the bake sale gives us hope for future cats with FIP," Amelia said.

Alumna Receives Fulbright, Has Other Plans

Bear blood transfusion

As an undergraduate, Alexis Burnham of Oak Ridge majored in animal science with minors in Hispanic studies and biological sciences. In addition to the usual curriculum, she pursued her varied interests by studying Catalan in Spain, competing with the equestrian team, volunteering with Girl Scouts, and taking electives ranging from sustainable forestry to German.

She graduated with her BS in 2016 as part of the Chancellor's Honors Program and is now one of eight UT students and recent graduates offered prestigious Fulbright grants. Burnham, though, finds herself with an even better opportunity. More...

Recycling & Reaping the Benefits

A Tennessee city is reducing the waste going into local landfills and, in the process, creating an agricultural product. Forbes Walker, an associate professor in the Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science, works with Lebanon's gasification plant to convert waste into energy and a substance known as "biochar." UTIA researchers also plan to use biochar in poultry production houses to reduce ammonia inside those operations—and in the container nursery industry to reduce water use. Watch a video about the Lebanon plant and biochar.

In Memoriam

Photo of a lily

Oliver Cook, retired 4-H specialist and Coffee County 4-H agent. Cook served UTIA for about forty years and, as a member of the 4-H staff, was the person most responsible for getting Tennessee 4-H camps accredited by the American Camping Association.

Jo Ellen Huffman, beloved administrative assistant for the DeKalb County Extension Office. County director Johnny Burns offers this: "I would like to ask each of you to take the time to tell your coworkers how much they mean to you. We spend a great deal of time with our coworkers and often take for granted that we will see them tomorrow. Tomorrow is promised to no one."

UTCVM Open House


Common Ground is published monthly by the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. Send comments and suggestions to commonground@tennessee.edu. The University of Tennessee is an EEO/AA/Title VI/Title IX/Section 504/ADA/ADEA institution in the provision of its education and employment programs and services. All qualified applicants will receive equal consideration for employment without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, pregnancy, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, physical or mental disability, or covered veteran status.

Real. Life. Solutions.