The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

Faculty Impact at The University of Tennessee

Over the past 10 months my wife has been enrolled in the University of Tennessee’s Culinary Arts Certificate Program. She has a natural talent and passion for cooking however, culinary school has been on a “bucket list” of sorts. A 4th grade teacher by trade, this was one of those opportunities we knew we’d either have to move or make some sort of a sacrifice to make happen.

I discovered UT’s program by mere accident while attending a retirement celebration for a fellow CUPA-HR member. As I pulled into the UT visitor’s center, there it was, right on the sign. Long story short, the stars aligned, my wife was accepted and was able to go to class two night’s a week for 10 months to recieve her culinary arts certificate.

The man behind this program is considered to be a visionary by some, a leader and a dear friend. He not only founded the Culinary Institute at UT but made the dreams of many young and aspiring chefs come true as he developed a top notch program. I met him once, at a fundraiser while he oversaw some of his students preparing food to share with the attendees. In the short time we stood there I could easily tell he was passionate about food and teaching.

During the rotation my wife was a part of (the 11th in the program) Dr. John Antun became ill with pancreatic cancer and passed shortly thereafter. This news of course struck a chord with every instructor and student in the program but it wasn’t until last week, at my wife’s graduation, that I realized the effect and impact of this individual, how he touched the lives of his students and how each instructor was individually coached and encouraged in their jobs to be their best. Fighting emotions, the interum director made a statement to continue the virtues and standards that Dr. Antun had set before them and that they would continue the program as he had envisioned.

We should all be so lucky as to be influenced by someone of this stature – and many of us have. Further, to have someone of this caliber on the staff on any campus is something to admire. It is individuals like Dr. Antun that help make our colleges and universities so special.