Following the termination of Chancellor Beverly Davenport, Gov. Bill Haslam suggested the top priority for the University of Tennessee should start with a new system president and then move to finding a chancellor for the Knoxville campus.

UT President Joe DiPietro is set to retire at the end of the year.

"My own thought is you probably start the president search first and determine who that is going to be. Then let him or her, whoever the new president is, be a part of the Chancellor decision," Haslam said. "It’s a little complicated by the fact that we will be doing a president search as well. That’s part of what the challenge is for university leadership."

The governor Friday reiterated his support for the president and his decision to fire the chancellor. He also suggested the next president should be the person to hire the next chancellor.

"That was the president’s decision. He did keep me informed through the process and I support him in his decision. That is his decision to make," Haslam said. "The president did his job in terms of keeping me informed and telling me his reasons. I said I think you need to be really clear if you are going to make a decision like that. I think he was very clear in his letter about the reasons he made his decision."

Haslam said he is "very pleased" with the selection of College of Engineering Dean Wayne Davis as the interim chancellor.

"Wayne has been on campus for a long time, has a credible track record at the school of engineering. I think the university will be served well by having Dr. Davis lead," he said.

Haslam acknowledges the University of Tennessee is in a challenging position as the leadership changes. As governor, Haslam serves as the Chair of the Board of Trustees.

"The good thing is we have an interim chancellor who said he will stay up to a year," Haslam said.

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