The Opportunity

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) invites inquiries, nominations, and applications for the position of Director, Student Counseling Center. The experienced professional will oversee this center along with providing leadership for student mental health initiatives for the campus community.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville is Tennessee’s land-grant, flagship university and premier public research institution. As the first public university chartered west of the Appalachian Divide, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville has been engaging students in research and scholarship for 225 years. Enrolling more than 30,000 students, including 24,000 undergraduates, the University has over 370 undergraduate and 547 graduate programs across 11 colleges. UTK is part of the University of Tennessee System, included in the highest Carnegie Classification, and is immersed in the Knoxville metropolitan area which consists of approximately 883,000 residents.

The Position

Role of the Director, Student Counseling Center for The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Reporting to the assistant vice chancellor for student life, the director, student counseling center provides executive direction for the Student Counseling Center. This position leads strategic planning and visioning for the Center and stays abreast of new developments and trends in college student mental health. The director supervises and evaluates staff members including an associate director, assistant director, staff psychologists, staff psychotherapist(s), psychiatrist(s), psychiatric nurse practitioner(s), staff therapists, clinical case manager(s), doctoral intern clinicians, graduate assistants, and administrative support staff. This position provides direct clinical services including triage screening and assessments, risk assessment and crisis management; supervises psychology trainees including individual supervision, review of video and clinical notes, and general quality assurance of clinical work; develops, manages, and monitors budget; evaluates departmental effectiveness and efficiency through assessment efforts; and establishes and maintains collaborative partnerships within the campus and Knoxville communities. The director is a champion of diversity, equity, and inclusion and leads with a spirit of humanity, generosity, and empathy in order to serve the diverse needs of the student population, the clinic practitioners, and the staff.

History of the Position  

The director since 2016, Dr. T. Paul McAnear retired from the University after serving in the student counseling center for 13 years. Dr. McAnear’s career prior to University of Tennessee, Knoxville included serving as a director and clinical psychologist in healthcare systems and he has a PhD in counseling psychology from the University of Tennessee. Dr. Judi Gibbons, director of clinical services/associate director, is currently serving as interim director until a new director is hired.

Opportunities and Challenges of the Role

The new director will be replacing a respected staff member at the University. It will be important to have an individual who capitalizes on the current supporters, advocates for the center, and forges relationships with those partners to continue the collaborations that already exist. The director of the counseling center will need to possess a broad and deep understanding of national best practices with regards to student mental health. The director should be an experienced leader capable of managing complex situations and staffing and who maintains an unwavering commitment to student care at the highest level. Additionally, the director will need to be clinically astute and possess a deep understanding of today’s students and their developmental needs and be equipped to lead at both a strategic and operational level within a large and growing public research institution.

The student counseling center stakeholders were engaged and invested in dialogue around the current vacancy, and they spoke consistently of identifying an individual who would provide leadership and vision for the future continued success of the counseling center.

Additional challenges and opportunities for the director as articulated by stakeholders include:

  • providing leadership for service provision for the increasing demand on mental health services, exploring multiple delivery methods and use of technology for all student types and demographics served;
  • cultivating partnerships of care with stakeholders throughout campus to continuously improve provision of services to students;
  • engaging with students who are passionate about mental health needs of students, developing strategies to decrease wait time for counseling appointments, and exploring methods to serve identified needs;
  • providing leadership and strong decision making skills for the area and fulfilling the role as the campus content expert on the rapidly changing area of student mental health;
  • promoting a student-centered focus in an essential service area;
  • displaying exemplary communication skills, expression of care, and advocacy for students while upholding the values and mission of the division of student life;
  • promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and a social justice commitment through effective policy, practice, and process development and ensuring that cultural competency preparation is included in all staff professional trainings;
  • providing innovative staff training, professional development opportunities, and support for a diverse staff who are loyal to their distinct roles at the institution.

Measures of Success

At an appropriate interval after joining the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, the items listed below will initially define success for the new Director, Student Counseling Center.

  • The director will have analyzed, contributed to, and defined plans and goals that are best practices for the department and campus moving forward.
  • The director will have created a plan to address the increased volume of students requesting services.
  • The director will have maintained a proactive, highly visible, well-respected, and established leadership presence on campus and this leadership presence will have been credible, collegial, collaborative, and positively received.
  • The director will have advanced the diversity, equity, and inclusion goals for the department.
  • The director will be a highly valued contributor to the student life division and its goal to provide the daily services that students need to thrive.
  • The staff reporting to the director will feel supported and valued, and be defined as a strong, highly functioning, well-regarded, and resilient team that works with synergy and shared provision of service.


Qualifications and Characteristics

The successful candidate will have a doctoral degree in Counseling or Clinical Psychology from an American Psychological Association (APA) accredited program, completion of internship program, and a minimum of five years of post-doctoral experience providing mental health services with at least three years of experience in a supervisory or administrative position are required. Candidate must be a licensed psychologist and eligible for licensure in the State of Tennessee. Preferred qualifications include previous experience working with psychiatric medication services and experience with electronic health record systems.

Additional skills required include: strong communication, interpersonal, and organizational skills; demonstrated ability to deal effectively with all constituents (students, faculty, administration, university staff, and other members of the campus and surrounding community); demonstrated presentation skills (oral and written); demonstrated ability to positively and effectively lead and facilitate campus and community partnerships; ability to plan, organize, and coordinate multiple projects simultaneously; experience providing crisis intervention; and demonstrated commitment to the principles and cultural humility-based counseling and leadership principles.

Additional capabilities and attributes identified as important by UTK stakeholders include the following:

  • articulate a sophisticated understanding of current student mental health trends and best practices;
  • demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion;
  • be a collaborator who is able to work with administration, faculty, staff, and students;
  • possess a demeanor that can remain calm and focused in crisis management;
  • have a high level of emotional intelligence, empathy, and concern for others, including the ability to navigate controversy with civility and respect;
  • be approachable, visible, and engaged in all facets of university life;
  • be able to generate innovative solutions to complex problems;
  • be a leader who can get in front of trends and issues related to student mental health;
  • possess a communication style that builds trust, collaboration, and encourages team building;
  • be a partner with faculty and staff for student academic success.

Institution & Location

Overview of the Student Counseling Center

The University of Tennessee (UT) Student Counseling Center (SCC) is the University’s primary facility for personal counseling, psychotherapy, and mental health outreach and consultation services for students.

The mission of the SCC is to promote the psychological, educational, and social well-being of the students of the University of Tennessee and to help prepare students to be productive members of a global society.

Along with therapy services, they also provide pre-professional training to students in the UT Counseling Psychology Ph.D. program, as well as to doctoral interns from school across the country.

SCC connects to the Vol community through community intervention programs. This may be tabling events with campus partners, presenting QPR or skill-building workshops, or providing consultation to university departments.

Leadership of the division

Jill Zambito, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Life

Dr. Jill Zambito serves as the Assistant vice chancellor for student life, overseeing the following offices: Center for Health Education and Wellness, RecSports, Student Conduct and Community Standards, Student Counseling Center, Student Disability Services, and the Student Health Services.

Jill most recently served as the director of student involvement and leadership development at Northern Illinois University. Prior to this position, she served as the director of off-campus and non-traditional student services from 2007-2011. She previously worked at North Central College as the director of student activities and orientation (2003-2007). She has a Doctorate of Education from Northern Illinois University, a Master of Science in Education in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Colorado State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communications and Spanish from Baldwin-Wallace College.

Frank Cuevas, Vice Chancellor for Student Life

Dr. Frank Cuevas serves as the vice chancellor for student life. Cuevas also serves as an adjunct assistant professor for the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.

Cuevas began his student affairs career at the Ohio State University, where he served as a residence hall director. He returned to his alma mater, Florida State University, in 1995 to work in housing and served in various leadership roles over his 15-year tenure. In 2010, Cuevas joined the UT administration as executive director of university housing and has served in several leadership roles within Student Life. In 2020, he was promoted to vice chancellor for student life.

Institutional Overview

Institutional background/history

Founded in 1794, UT is big on tradition, and is proud of the humble beginnings as the first public university chartered west of the Appalachian Divide.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville — which includes the UT Institute of Agriculture and the UT Space Institute — serves the state by educating its citizens, enhancing its culture, and making a difference in people’s lives through research and service.

The University embodies excellence in teaching, research, scholarship, creative activity, outreach, and engagement.

UT is refining undergraduate and graduate education, research, support for faculty and staff, campus infrastructure, and resources.

Knoxville, TN

Present-day Knoxville is located near the center of the Great Valley of East Tennessee. Its location, in the heart of the valley and at the headwaters of the Tennessee River, make the city a center for the region’s economy, culture, and history.

Before European settlement, the valley was occupied by the Cherokee Indians. James White, the founder of Knoxville, established his home in 1786 as a fort and cluster of cabins. By 1791, the community was renamed Knoxville and enjoyed status as capital of the Southwest Territory. By 1794, the town was home to Blount College, known today as the University of Tennessee.

In the 1800s, Knoxville took advantage of its river access, railroad connections, and geographical location to become one of the leading distributing centers in the south. These same assets would make Knoxville a prize to be fought for during the American Civil War. Like the rest of the state, Knoxville was divided between the blue and the gray.

After the war, Knoxville rebuilt its economy through commerce, industry, and natural resources that included lumber, coal, and marble. Those natural resources and river-generated power helped establish Knoxville as an important “New Deal” city in the early 20th century, as a gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and as headquarters to the Tennessee Valley Authority. In 1982, Knoxville was host to a World’s Fair and 11 million visitors. The theme, “Energy Turns the World,” reflects the city’s prominent role in technology.

Today, Knoxville is home to pioneers in industry, leaders in the arts, and traditionalists working to preserve its heritage. Knoxville’s culture and history can be explored and discovered in its 20 museums, numerous performing arts venues, and its historic neighborhoods.

Mission and Vision

The primary mission of the University of Tennessee is to move forward the frontiers of human knowledge and enrich and elevate the citizens of the state of Tennessee, the nation, and the world. As the preeminent research-based land-grant university in the state, UT embodies the spirit of excellence in teaching, research, scholarship, creative activity, outreach, and engagement attained by the nation’s finest public research institutions.

UT’s Carnegie Classification is very high research activity (Doctoral Universities R1 category). Most undergraduates are full-time and admission is selective with a fairly low transfer-in rate. Admission to graduate and professional programs is also competitive. Graduate offerings include master’s, doctoral, and professional programs that focus both on research and practice. Nationally ranked programs, as well as partnerships with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, are among UT’s unique characteristics.


The University of Tennessee seeks to be established as a top-tier public research university. Inherent in this vision is an acknowledgment that UT is currently a premier institution. UT’s vision reflects a desire to contribute to the legacy of the University and its longstanding tradition of excellence. This journey embraces the Volunteer identity and builds on the strengths that differentiate the University from its peers. This success will depend on a sustained commitment to improvement as part of its culture.

Volunteer Values

The University of Tennessee’s culture is guided by adherence to core values that define the Volunteer spirit and permeate who they are, what they do, and the approach to living and learning at UT and beyond.

Seeking Knowledge

The Volunteer spirit is intelligent, curious, and honors freedom of speech and the free exchange of ideas. This type of inquiry encourages intellectual growth, a lifelong pursuit of knowledge, and a sharing of this knowledge, as embodied by the Torchbearer.

Leading with Innovation and Integrity

The University knows that solutions to modern problems arise through an understanding and application of existing data but also through creative thinking. Volunteers value character and integrity. The best leaders foster ethical and professional behavior such as open dialogue, transparency, and accountability within their groups.

Advancing Diversity and Inclusion

The Volunteer community encompasses faculty, staff, students, and alumni of different cultures and backgrounds. Respecting the contributions and strengths of each individual is integral to teamwork and to fostering a culture of inclusive excellence.

Engaging Locally and Globally

Volunteers get involved. Whether acting within the local and extended communities or embracing global challenges, the UT community strives to make a difference.

Embracing Responsible Stewardship of Resources

Sustainability of resources, whether in terms of financial resources, infrastructure, or the environment, is key to a healthy institution. Practicing these values at UT builds a lifelong respect for managing resources responsibly.

Vol Vision 2020 is the strategic plan for the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

The strategic plan focuses on six priority areas: undergraduate education; graduate education; faculty; research, scholarship, creative activity, and engagement; resources and infrastructure; and diversity and inclusion. It also emphasizes the Volunteer Difference—the unique strengths that sets UTK apart from its peers.

Vol Vision 2020 serves as a record of the journey—where UT Knoxville has been, where it is now, and where it intends to go. It shows that progress has made a tremendous difference on campus.

UT Knoxville has already made great strides in improving students’ experiences while making new discoveries and engaging with local and global communities, and the leadership in innovation and economic development has made a significant difference for the citizens of Tennessee.


Dr. Donde Plowman, Chancellor

Donde Plowman became the ninth chancellor of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, on July 1, 2019. Under her leadership, the University has placed renewed focus on its land-grant mission as the state’s flagship public institution.

In her first year as chancellor, Plowman oversaw the creation of the Oak Ridge Institute and the merger of the Knoxville campus with the adjacent Institute of Agriculture. She appointed the University’s first vice chancellor for diversity and engagement, as well as a new provost, vice chancellor for research, and vice chancellor for student life. She also mobilized an extensive institution-wide response to the COVID-19 pandemic while celebrating the University’s 225th anniversary.

Plowman returned to Rocky Top after nine years at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL), where she served most recently as executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer. In that role, she oversaw academic affairs, student affairs, the Office of Research and Economic Development, and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. She earlier served for more than six years as the James Jr. and Susan Stuart Dean of UNL’s College of Business Administration.

Before going to Nebraska, Plowman was on the management faculty at UT, where she served for two years as head of the Department of Management in the Haslam College of Business. She began her academic career at the University of Texas at San Antonio as an assistant professor of management and advanced to the position of professor and associate dean for graduate studies and research, where she was responsible for the creation of the university’s doctoral degree in business.

Plowman has a doctorate in strategic management from the University of Texas at Austin, an undergraduate degree with a major in English from Southern Methodist University, and a MEd in higher education administration from the University of North Texas.


11 Colleges

900+ Programs of study

370 Undergraduate programs of study

547 Graduate programs of study

300 Study abroad programs

Academic calendar Semesters

The Student Body (Fall 2020)


30,559 Students (24,254 undergraduate and 6,305 graduate and professional)

17 to 1 Student-to-faculty ratio

Benefits Overview

  • Health Insurance
  • Dental Plans
  • Vision Plans
  • Life Insurance
  • Long Term Disability
  • Retirement Plans
  • Sick Leave Bank

Application & Nomination

Application and Nomination Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. To apply for this position please click on the Apply button, complete the brief application process, and upload your resume and position-specific cover letter. Nominations for this position may be emailed to Laura Puckett-Boler at Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895.

Visit the University of Tennessee, Knoxville website at

The University of Tennessee is an EEO/AA/Title Vl/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. Inquiries and charges of violation of Title VI (race, color, and national origin), Title IX (sex), Section 504 (disability), ADA (disability), Age Discrimination in Employment Act (age), sexual orientation, or veteran status should be directed to the Office of Equity and Diversity (OED), 1840 Melrose Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37996-3560, telephone (865) 974-2498. Requests for accommodation of a disability should be directed to the ADA Coordinator at the Office of Equity and Diversity.