Dr. Jerald Ogg ended his six-year term as Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs to return to the classroom full-time in August.
After serving as the vice chancellor for Academic Affairs for 10 years – the longest anyone has served in the position at UTM – taking on the additional title of provost for the final six years, Ogg has stepped out of administration and back into the Department of Communications for the first time in 17 years.
Ogg first joined the UTM faculty in 1987, just 11 years after he graduated from UTM with two degrees, one in communications and the other in political science. After earning a law degree from the University of Tennessee Knoxville, serving as an active duty judge advocate in the U.S. Air Force and practicing communications law in Louisiana, Ogg returned to UTM while on vacation to visit his former mentor and Pacer advisor. He ended up interviewing in his golf shorts for a one-year, temporary professor’s position. He applied for the job permanently the following year.
Within his first two years of working for the Department of Communications, he had crafted the public relations sequence that all communications majors now have the choice of specializing in. By 1994, he had received his Ph.D. in journalism from Southern Illinois University, without ceasing to teach at UTM. By 1997, he was serving as the chair of the department and by 2000 had become the dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts. He also served as the interim vice chancellor for Student Affairs for one year and has been the director of the Tennessee Governor’s School of the Humanities since 2001.
Stepping down from his position of provost and vice chancellor was a goal Ogg had set for 2014; however, he said he felt it important that he was there to provide stability in his office during the securing of UTM’s accreditation and through the chancellor transitions the campus underwent during his term, pushing his position change back to 2017, when the search for the new provost and vice chancellor officially began.
“I wasn’t really leaving that job as much as I was coming back to this one,” Ogg said. “It was more wanting to teach than it was wanting to get away from the provost.”
Ogg had always planned to return to his desired university role as a teacher since his detour into administrative jobs in 1997.
Having establishing the public relations sequence in the communications program at UTM based on the model published nationally by the Public Relations Society of America, Ogg never stopped teaching the introductory course to the sequence: Principles of Public Relations. In fact, he is the only professor to teach the course at UTM since its introduction to the curriculum, meaning he has taught every PR major from the university. During the time Ogg primarily served as an administrator, he taught the course without the customary overload pay, opting for it to be applied elsewhere.
Although he has enjoyed pieces of all his administrative work, serving as the dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts has been Ogg’s favorite administrative position because of the closer proximity to the students and minor budgeting work compared to that of the vice chancellor. As a dean, he could advocate for his college, work with department chairs and be more involved with students.
Getting back to the students was his primary goal.
“While I’ve taught all along a little bit, I just miss the daily interaction with the students and the chance to impact individuals more directly maybe than you can do as an administrator,” he said.
However, he does believe working in administration has made him a better teacher, allowing him to understand the university better and providing him more opportunities to work with people, regardless if they were students, staff or faculty. He also hopes his past as an administrator provides him credibility in the classroom with his students, having performed the types of management he teaches on.
“The students this year ought to be getting a better Jerald Ogg than the students last year did,” he said.
One way he works on achieving this is through his role as the director of Governor’s School. He feels the program valuably contributes to his growth as a teacher by allowing him to spend 30 days each summer with the upcoming recruiting class. This allows him to see how the students are changing over time, so that he may change with them.
“The bad news about being a college professor is you have to start over every semester…The good news is you get to,” he said.
Now that he is back to working full-time in the position he filled in 1987, having since taken on numerous roles and served many titles as well as welcoming his own two daughters across the UTM stage at their graduations, Ogg is looking forward to focusing on teaching communications courses, working with students on expanding their internship opportunities and potentially developing a course on crisis communication.
(Dr. Jerald Ogg, good teacher, great human being. Pacer Photo/Brooke Boshers)