Jimmy G. Cheek is Chancellor Emeritus and Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Within a year of taking office as Chancellor in 2009, Dr. Cheek accepted the Governor’s challenge for UT to become a Top 25 public-research university in the United States. This aggressive initiative sparked exciting momentum around improving undergraduate education, graduate education, research, campus infrastructure, and securing additional financial resources which included approval by the Board of Trustees of differential tuition for 4 colleges and the 15-4 tuition model, which has aided in recruitment and retention of world-class faculty and staff at The University of Tennessee.
During his eight year tenure as Chancellor of The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Cheek implemented numerous changes in the university’s delivery of core services including advising, tutoring, mentoring, admissions, and other support to help students graduate on time and achieve their academic goals. These changes have dramatically improved enrollment, retention and graduation rates and brought UT's metrics closer to aspirant peers.
A first-generation college student, Cheek also set in motion several initiatives to increase diversity and student access to the university. Under his leadership, a Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Engagement role was created. The university’s work on improving access likewise led to Cheek’s participation in two White House Summits on increasing college opportunity for low-income students. Having earned numerous distinctions and awards, and while serving on Boards for several state and national organizations, Dr. Cheek maintains his commitment to access and completion in his role as Director of UT's Postsecondary Education Research Center.
Cheek earned his bachelor’s degree with high honors and his doctorate from Texas A&M University. He received his master’s degree from Lamar University.
Cheek has authored more than 80 journal articles and reports. His research focuses on the influence of experiential learning on student achievement and educational accountability. Prior to his service with UT, Cheek was a member of the faculty and an administrator at the University of Florida for thirty-four years, last serving as Senior Vice President of Agricultural and Natural Resources.