Lisa Stearns, UTIA Vice Chancellor for Marketing and Communications

Lisa Stearns has been named vice chancellor for marketing and communications for the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. Download photo.


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture has named Lisa Stearns as its vice chancellor for marketing and communications.

A familiar figure in East Tennessee, Stearns joins UTIA after a 20-year career in the region’s health care industry, first as director for marketing and public relations for Baptist Health System of East Tennessee, then as regional director for marketing and public relations for Mercy Health Partners, and most recently as director of marketing and communications for Tennova Healthcare. Previously she served for nine years as a health reporter and news anchor at what is now WVLT-TV in Knoxville.

Stearns’ new duties will include overseeing UTIA’s marketing and communications efforts. A member of the overall UT system, UTIA serves the university’s land-grant mission through three campus-based teaching and research units: the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, the College of Veterinary Medicine and UT AgResearch with faculty in Knoxville and 10 AgResearch and Education centers located throughout the state.

The fourth UTIA unit is UT Extension, which maintains offices in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties and provides adult and youth educational programming for farmers, families and communities in agricultural, natural resources and family and consumer sciences disciplines. UT Extension also manages Tennessee’s statewide 4-H youth development organization, one of the largest such organizations nationally.

UTIA Chancellor Larry Arrington announced Stearns’ appointment in a letter to the statewide faculty and staff. “Lisa joins the University of Tennessee with a strong background in providing leadership in marketing and communications activities,” he said. Arrington noted that the vice chancellor’s position communicates the breadth and importance of the institute’s programs to the state’s citizens. UTIA supports the state’s nearly $71 billion agriculture and natural resources economy through delivering research discoveries to industry and advancing academic excellence in both on- and off-campus learning opportunities.

“The UT Institute of Agriculture is truly making a difference in the lives of people across our state in so many ways,” said Stearns. “I am honored and excited to help promote the university’s land-grant tradition and its mission-driven work in our communities.”

Stearns, who holds a B.S. in journalism and public relations from California State University in Fresno and an M.S. in journalism from Northwestern, is no stranger to agriculture. She grew up in Fresno in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. The valley is often referred to as the “nation’s salad bowl” and is one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions, cultivating more than 250 crops.

The new vice chancellor is expected to arrive on campus in late October.



Patricia McDaniels, UTIA Marketing and Communications, 615-835-4570,