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Common Ground

An old photo of campus including the white oak tree

Indian Mound's Oak Named Historic Tree

A stately white oak on the UTIA campus in Knoxville has been included as a historic tree on the Tennessee Landmark, Historic, and Heritage Tree Registry, a list maintained by the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council. Located on the corner of Joe Johnson Drive and E.J. Chapman Drive and atop the "Indian Mound," the white oak (Quercus alba L.) measures nearly 46 inches in circumference and has been a part of campus for more than a century.

Photo of Hongwei Xin

Welcome to Our New UTIA AgResearch Dean

Hongwei Xin, currently assistant dean for research in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University, has been named as our new dean for AgResearch. He will begin in his new role on May 16, 2019.

Photo of researchers measuring a bat

Ties with Thailand Continue to Blossom

The Institute has collaborated with partners in Southeast Asia since the 1990s. A key partner is Kasetsart University in Thailand, one of the leading agriculture and natural resource academic institutions in the region. With a history of research, student exchange, and teaching programs between UTIA and Kasetsart, this partnership continues to thrive, and includes a visiting scholar from Kasetsart this semester at UTIA.

Message from the Chancellor

Congratulations to Bonnie Ownley, professor in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology. Bonnie has been selected to serve as the faculty representative on the education, research, and service committee of the UT Board of Trustees. This new committee will benefit from Bonnie's experience on our campus as well as her service as a past president of the Faculty Senate. The committee is chaired by Donnie Smith, an alumnus of our Department of Animal Science.

October brought a number of special guests to our campus, including Roger Thurow, a nationally recognized author; Jodi Nelson, director of the Peace Corps; and Dianne Sievert, associate director for microbial resistance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Each of these individuals was generous with their time, meeting with students, faculty, and staff and sharing their experiences as well as opportunities to collaborate. Guests like these and the many others who attend our meetings and events also help to increase our visibility and enable us to form new partnerships.

Unfortunately, we also had to say goodbye to someone very special to the Institute. Lacy Upchurch passed away on October 19, and he will be missed by many across the state. Lacy was an active 4-H and FFA member, a UT graduate, an Extension agent, a farmer, and a past president of the largest state Farm Bureau in the nation—the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. I'm proud to have known and worked with Lacy, and I learned much from him as he championed the interests of Tennessee farmers and rural communities throughout his career.

As the Thanksgiving holiday draws near, it is a reminder to us all to cherish time with family and friends. All my best to you for the holiday ahead.


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

Marking Veterans Day through Opportunities in Agriculture

Screen capture from video about the campaign

We need farms, and farmers need resources, access to the latest research, and technology. The Tennessee AgrAbility Project, of which UT Extension is a partner, has a unique mission to support farmers with disabilities. If you have a desire to farm, AgrAbility is dedicated to your success. But there is one group that many are calling the future of agriculture. That is our veteran farmers. These are men and women who have served America on the battlefield and are continuing to serve on a different type of field. In a video by Lauren Vath of UTIA Advancement for Together We Grow, meet the two veterans operating RV Farms in East Tennessee's Andersonville who are rolling up their sleeves to feed—and serve—their community.

And Honoring Veterans through Service

Screen capture from a video about master gardeners conducting a project at Fort Campbell

When a military family loses a loved one in the line of duty, many people in the civilian world want to help. As Veteran's Day nears, Tennessee Master Gardeners are conducting a project across the state line at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to aid our service families. Charles Denney of UTIA Marketing and Communications has more on their gifts of time to enhance the grounds of a building that houses SOS House, home to survivor outreach services. It's where people come for counseling or just time to grieve or reflect on their loss.

Photo of the pavilion at night

Architectural Profession Honors UT Gardens Pavilion

The recently dedicated McIlwaine Friendship Pavilion and Outdoor Classroom at the UT Gardens, Knoxville, has been honored with an Award of Merit in Architecture from the Tennessee chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Sanders Pace Architecture of Knoxville designed the pavilion, and a number of its characteristics that show sensitivity to its site won praise for their thought and care in execution. The image is used with permission by architectural photographer Denise Retallack of Portland, Maine.

Ridley 4-H Center Renovation Complete
CPA Has a New Home

A photo of Terri Quillin and Rob Holland

A new administrative building has opened on the campus of the William P. Ridley 4-H Center in Columbia. The beautiful and modern facility features two wings, one for the 4-H Center staff and one that is the new home of the Center for Profitable Agriculture. The CPA was formerly housed on the grounds of the Middle Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center in Spring Hill. The units are hosting an open house and ribbon-cutting on Friday, November 30. The event is also sponsored by the Maury County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Alliance and will begin at 10 a.m. UTIA faculty and staff are invited, but advance notice is requested. Email Terri Quillin (tlquillin@tennessee.edu), Ridley 4-H Center manager, or Rob Holland (rwholland@tennessee.edu), director of the CPA, if you plan to attend.

The five-member Center for Profitable Agriculture staff housed in the new office building consult with farmers and value-added farm entrepreneurs, plan educational programs with farm families across the state, and develop an assortment of educational publications and farm business analyses.

Photo of a gift pack of cheese

All Vol Cheese for the Holidays

You can share Big Orange spirit and taste this holiday season with All Vol cheese. The Department of Food Science offers four flavors: Game Day Sharp Cheddar, Checkerboard Mild Cheddar, Smokey's Smoked Gouda, and Torchbearer Jalapeño Cheddar. Ten-ounce bars are $8 including tax, and a new All Vol gift pack features the four flavors in a gift box for $30. Sales benefit students and research at UTIA. Order online or call the department at 865-974-7331 and arrange pickup in 201 Food Science Building. Shipping is available, too.

A Moment in UTIA's Fifty Years

An photo of the Herbert Ambassadors

Throughout this anniversary year, Common Ground has observed historic moments that have occurred during the Institute's fifty years of existence. This month's moment brings us to the present time. On June 22, 2018, the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources became the Herbert College of Agriculture thanks to a transformational gift from UT alumni Jim and Judi Herbert. The Herbert College of Agriculture became only the third named college in UT Knoxville's 224-year history and is one of only two land-grant agricultural colleges in the nation to be named from a philanthropic gift. Learn more about the impacts of this gift and what it means for students in the College at herbert.tennessee.edu.


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 and admission without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, pregnancy, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, physical or mental disability, genetic information, veteran status, and parental status.

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