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Ralph G. Brockett, PhD


Interim Department Head

Ralph G. Brockett joined the University of Tennessee in 1988 and has been part of the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling since 1994. He currently serves as interim department head of EPC and is a professor in the Adult Learning and Adult Education programs. We asked him to reflect on his experiences. Read his responses below.

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What are some different roles you’ve served at UT and/or within EPC?
I became Interim Department Head in August, 2014. Before that, I served as Coordinator of the Adult Education/Adult Learning programs since 1993, except for one year. Over the years, I have been active in a number of roles including Chair of the Graduate Council (2012-2013).

What are a few of your most recent accomplishments?
Among my more recent accomplishments is the publication of my book, Teaching Adults: A Practical Guide for New Teachers (Jossey-Bass, 2015), which was released in January. I was also co-recipient of the 2012 Imogene Okes Award for Research in Adult Education (with one of my former doctoral students). I am also a founding Board Member of the International Society for Self-Directed Learning.


In an attempt to help others first coming to UT, complete the following statement: If I knew then what I know now about UT, I would…
say that I have found my time at UT to be mostly rewarding. I was very excited to have the opportunity to come here in 1988 and continue to believe it has been a good place to have spent the majority of my career. For new faculty coming into EPC, I would say that this is an exciting time and they have a great opportunity to help shape the long-term future of the department.

What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t in academia?
I always wanted to be a writer. Growing up, I wanted to go into journalism. As an adult, I would have liked to write non-fiction on a wide range of topics. Fortunately, in my life in academia, I have had the opportunity to do quite a bit of writing, including 10 books.

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What have you most liked about EPC?
EPC is a strong department with many excellent programs, a productive faculty, and outstanding graduate students. We are undergoing substantial transition at this time due to numerous faculty retirements and changing leadership in the department. However, this transition provides an opportunity to create a vision and direction for the department for years to come. We have been fortunate to be able to hire several outstanding new colleagues. I believe the department is positioned to move forward and continue to be a productive, successful member of the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences for years to come.


What has been your most memorable experience this year?
For me, this has been a truly memorable year. As first-year Interim Head, I have had much to learn and have faced many challenges. But I have been pleased to be in a position to do things that support the work of our faculty, staff, and students. Throughout my career, I have benefited from the support of others in leadership and mentoring roles. My hope is that I can pay this forward by helping make it possible for members of our department to thrive in the work they do.


Name one fact about yourself that most people don’t know.
Some people know that one of my main outside interests is history of the U.S. Presidents. I like to read and study the presidents and travel to presidential homes, libraries, and other historical sites. What most people don’t know is that I have visited the grave sites of all but two of the presidents and I hope to get to these in the near future.