Steve Smith to Lead Fall Semester Planning; Holly Mercer Will Serve as Acting Dean
May 29, 2020

Dean of Libraries Steve Smith will coordinate the next stage of planning for UT Knoxville’s fall semester. Chancellor Donde Plowman announced Smith’s appointment on May 21 as a special advisor on best practices for returning to campus during the COVID-19 pandemic. Smith’s appointment to the chancellor’s cabinet will last through at least August 31. Senior Associate Dean of Libraries Holly Mercer will serve as acting dean of libraries for the duration of Smith’s appointment.

Smith co-chaired the earlier Re-Imagining Fall Task Force along with Ellen McIntyre, dean of the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences. A team of 82 people gathered creative ideas for safely re-opening the campus this fall. The task force reported its recommendations to the chancellor on May 18.

Smith and Provost John Zomchick will work with deans and department heads to restructure the fall semester in a way that prioritizes the health and safety of the Volunteer community. Changes will likely include altering class schedules to promote social distancing, staggered move-in to dorms, blending online and face-to-face instruction, and more staff working from home.

Since joining the UT Libraries as an associate dean in 2012, Holly Mercer has overseen the Libraries’ digital projects, technology infrastructure, and resource-sharing partnerships. She has a longstanding interest in scholarly communications and open access, and currently serves on the Board of Governors of HathiTrust, a partnership of major academic and research libraries collaborating on the long-term preservation of the published record.