Q&A with Chancellor Plowman

She plays the piano, loves to read, wakes up at 4 a.m. every day, and says her biggest influence was her father. Find out more about our ninth chancellor, Donde Plowman, and see what she did on her first day back on Rocky Top.

Q. What do you miss about teaching?

A. I miss the instant contact you have with students. You develop relationships, and I think administrators need to continue to find that way to connect with students. Because if you don’t, you can get really removed from what it is, the central mission that the university is all about. I’m going to be looking for ways to connect, opportunities, invitations—so spread the word.

Q. What does “Volunteer spirit” mean to you?

A. Tennessee has such a rich history around that spirit, around the idea of stepping forth and saying, “I’ll go.” So, to me, it’s about committing to something important, something that’s more than just getting an A on the test or more than just publishing your research but to leave a mark on your community and using your talents to make things better for others. I love that.

Q. What do you listen to?

A. In the mornings I like hymns and instrumentals. I like listening to all the sort of classic rock stations, the stations of my era. James Taylor and Simon & Garfunkel. I also like country music. Vince Gill is a big favorite of mine.

Q. What are you reading?

A. Well, I’m always reading maybe three types of books at one time. So, I’m somebody that’s got several things going at once. I just finished a memoir that was written by a former graduate student at Nebraska called The Miseducation of Cameron Post. It’s going to be made into a movie. And lately I’ve been on this kick of Brenè Brown, who writes books on leadership. I loved Daring Leadership.

Q. What do you love about Knoxville?

A. There’s something about the lush green surroundings of Knoxville landscapes that just brings a sense of peace and beauty. We’ve bought a home that has that feeling in the backyard. I have a screened-in porch, which I’ve never had in my life. But if you live in Knoxville, you’ve got to have a screened-in porch. I look forward to sitting out there and just, you know, taking in the beautiful surroundings.

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