UT System President Emeritus

Joe DiPietro served as the 25th president of the University of Tennessee from 2011 to 2018. He is regarded as one of the University’s great leaders, and the UT Board of Trustees bestowed upon him the status of president emeritus upon his retirement.

During his tenure, he oversaw a record four years of low tuition increases, including a zero percent tuition increase this year for UT Knoxville and UT Chattanooga. In 2017, UT research achieved a record-high, system-wide $481 million in sponsored-program expenditures. The UT Foundation experienced a record fundraising year of more than $397 million given during 2017-2018 fiscal year. The record year of giving included the naming of two colleges at the UT Institute of Agriculture and UT Chattanooga, which join two other colleges named at UT Knoxville since 2014. The UT Institute of Agriculture and Institute for Public Service had more than 5 million contacts with Tennesseans statewide.

Prior to becoming president, DiPietro served as chancellor of the UT Institute of Agriculture from 2006 to 2010. Under his leadership, the institute began interdisciplinary programs such as the Center for Renewable Carbon, the Tennessee Biofuels Initiative and the master’s degree in landscape architecture. Between 2006 and 2010, external grant support for the Institute of Agriculture increased 30 percent from $26.6 million to $34.8 million annually.

A veterinarian by training, DiPietro’s research emphasis was veterinary parasitology. He earned his bachelor’s, doctor of veterinary medicine and master’s degrees at the University of Illinois, Urbana.

Before coming to UT, DiPietro served as dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida from 1997 to 2006. Prior to that, he rose to tenured professor of veterinary clinical medicine and veterinary pathobiology at the University of Illinois, Urbana, and held administrative positions there including assistant director of the Agriculture Experiment Station and associate dean for research of the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Joe DiPietro headshot
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A Final Farewell

On Nov. 20, Joe DiPietro concluded his tenure as the 25th president of the University of Tennessee. In his final farewell to his UT Family, Dr. DiPietro reflects on his time at UT and offers his well wishes for the future.


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Tennessee Alumnus Magazine Profiles

Introducing Joe DiPietro
(Winter 2011)
He’s come up through the ranks. He’s a team player. He’s the 24th president of the University of Tennessee.

Listen to Joe
(Fall 2014)
The next four years for UT’s president start in January with a huge vote of confidence, optimism and a big challenge.

Q&A With Joe DiPietro
(Fall 2014)
President Joe DiPietro shares the challenges, rewards and surprises of his daily job leading at the University of Tennessee.

UT’s 25th President at the Five-Year Mark
(Winter 2016)
Five years ago this month, Joe DiPietro assumed the presidency of the University of Tennessee in a pretty unassuming way.

‘A More Noble Purpose’
(Spring 2016)
UT President Joe DiPietro used his inaugural State of the University address to highlight successes of each campus and institute from the past year.

Up Close With Joe DiPietro
(Spring 2018)
Learn a few of the lesser known facts about the University of Tennessee’s 25th president.

‘Right President at the Right Time’
(Winter 2019)
After leading the University of Tennessee system for eight years, UT’s 25th president is ready to retire.

What They’re Saying

Comments by leaders from across the UT System and throughout the state of Tennessee.


“I am very grateful for Joe’s service to the University of Tennessee. His commitment to the University and his steady and wise leadership will pay dividends for years to come. Everyone who has worked with Joe will long remember his selfless service to building a great university.”

“It has been a privilege to work with Joe DiPietro during his tenure as president of the University of Tennessee. The partnership between UT and Oak Ridge National Laboratory has flourished during this period, as demonstrated by the growth of our joint graduate program, the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Graduate Research and Education, the success of the Institute for Advanced Composite Materials Innovation, and the expansion of the Governor’s Chair program that brings exceptionally accomplished researchers to Tennessee. His counsel and leadership have been a valuable asset to me and to the UT-Battelle Board of Governors. I wish him the very best.”

“Joe DiPietro has been an exceptional leader for UT statewide, reflected in the excellent support from the state of Tennessee, and the systemwide progress being made in a number of areas including enrollment, graduation rates, retention and research.

Joe is thoughtful and has always pursued significant progress for the University of Tennessee.”

“I have enjoyed working with President DiPietro over the past five years. The universities in the UT System have had many great successes during his tenure as president and UTC is no exception. Dr. DiPietro empowered UTC to develop our own unique identity as a part of the University of Tennessee system. His support helped UTC lead the state in CCTA outcomes funding metrics for the past 4 years.”

“President DiPietro showed unwavering commitment to the mission of UT. He brought a sense of equity and fairness to all of his actions.”

“I’ve known Dr. DiPietro since his arrival at the University of Tennessee and have seen how hard he’s worked to better the state with his leadership at the system. I have enjoyed working with him and wish him and Deb all the best.”

“The University of Tennessee is a better place because of Joe DiPietro’s leadership. Across the system, we’ve increased the number of college graduates, increased enrollment on the campuses and raised the visibility of the University’s research portfolio. He’s embraced the traditions of our campuses and worked tirelessly to advance the goals of each institution. Best of all, he’s been a visible, vocal advocate for the University of Tennessee all across the state and nation. He will be missed.”

“Dr. DiPietro has been a tremendous leader for the UT System, and a huge proponent of the system’s outreach mission – especially as implemented by the Institute for Public Service and the Institute of Agriculture. I appreciate all of the support he’s shown for the institute and for me personally. UT will miss his guidance and vision. All of us who worked closely with him will miss the team culture he created that encouraged accountability, candor, continuous improvement, stewardship and a caring attitude. I wish him the best as he returns to Illinois to spend time with his wife Deb, his children and grandchildren.”

“It has been a real pleasure to work with Dr. DiPietro beginning with his appointment as the Chancellor of the UT Institute of Agriculture in 2008. He’s been a tireless leader and a great supporter of our faculty, staff, students and stakeholders across the state, and he’ll be missed. He’s been a great boss and a good friend, and I wish he and Deb the very best in retirement.”

“Under President DiPietro’s servant leadership, I have observed UTC achieve significant milestones that support the mission of the university. I respect his dedication to the UT System and his service to our students, faculty, and staff.”

“I have known Dr. DiPietro for some 20 years. He has always been a man of exceptional integrity. As a leader and administrator, I have admired his consistent efforts to seek out basic truths and principles to follow in making decisions. He seeks insight and advice when faced with important decisions, and he has always held the University as his top priority. Personally, I believe he has a great inner drive to help people succeed. He has certainly allowed his direct reports strong autonomy to oversee their areas of responsibility, but expects follow-through efforts and to be informed of outcomes. He is a great team player, knowing how and when to lead and when to follow.”

“I have had the opportunity to work with Joe in a number of capacities over the past few years. I think he has been an outstanding leader and an excellent communicator. He has his pulse on what is going on at each campus, and works hard with legislators and our alumni base to move our great University forward.”


“From the first day we met, I asked Joe to name his top three goals for UT, as well as his thoughts on the length of his runway as president. He was surprised with my second straightforward question, but he answered very professionally and confidently. Joe delivered on his goals and made sure he delivered on his promise, especially to his wonderful wife, regarding the length of his runaway as president.

I have said it before and will say it again, he was the right president at the right time for UT. He truly brought stability and credibility to the office.

It has been an honor and a privilege to work with Joe DiPietro, especially during the last three years. We quickly developed a relationship based on full transparency, with no hidden agendas and no surprises. Our decisions were always based on ‘what is best for UT.’

To his credit, our relationship became a strong strategic partnership between two different worlds: academia and business. Joe took full advantage of my business experience and used me as a sounding board. He also supported many of the needed improvements that the Board was calling for. Some of our weekly meetings were very tough, and there was negative stress, but at the end of any argument, the conclusion was always ‘what is in the best interest of UT.’ He supported many initiatives that are usually very tough challenges in the academic world. In fact, his support for revising the business model, his support for increasing accountability within all the ranks, his support for the great modifications created under the 2018 Focus Act, and his support of critical tenure revisions to enhance rigor and accountability are all examples of what Joe stands for and that is, without a doubt, ‘what is in the best interest of UT’ and its future.

I will always count him as a trusted friend and look forward for his continued contribution to UT and the greater community.”