Jeffrey L. Cochran, professor, is the new Educational Psychology and Counseling (EPC) Department Head. Cochran came to UT Knoxville and joined EPC in 2006. During this time, he has served in various leadership roles such as program coordinator of Clinical Mental Health Counseling, representative of the CEHHS (College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences) Curriculum Review Committee, and president of the Association for Humanistic Counseling. We asked him some questions about this new role. Read his responses below.
I feel proud to be selected to lead EPC. We are a very impressive group of scholars and teachers. It is an honor to have this leadership role.
What is your top priority for the department?
Enhanced relationships: EPC is made up of impressive individuals, academic programs, and centers. Of course, we have always shared resources and helped each other out as needed. I want us to increase our sharing. I want us to enhance our workplace relationships and inter-program relationships. Many of our programs and individuals face very similar challenges, which we address in our different ways. So, one path to enhanced relationships can be greater informational sharing of what works per program and per individual regarding common challenges. With enhanced relationships, we can move the ‘bottom lines’ of
- Continuing and even improving in recruiting and graduating the very best students from around Tennessee, the US, and the world
- Continuing and even improving the quality, quantity, and notoriety of our EPC faculty members’ research
- Increasing our service to our local community, our professions, UT, and the world.
What are you looking forward to as department head?
My new role presents me with the opportunity for new relationships. As a professor associated with a set of programs (Counselor Education), most of my workplace relationships have been with the other faculty in our programs. Further, our Counselor Education faculty are on 4th floor of Claxton, while most of EPC is on 5th floor of Bailey. So, as I move to 5th floor of Bailey, it will facilitate building new relationships.
My new role also provides me an opportunity for a broader perspective. Similar to my workplace relationships, my perspective has been primarily to the Counselor Education programs and secondarily to EPC. Now my role requires a broader perspective.
I am also looking forward to bringing qualities and insights of my counselor identity into my leadership role with EPC. I was initially reluctant to apply for the department head position. This was due to very much enjoying my role as professor and not wanting to give up any significant part of that. But, as I continued to consider the possibility of applying until very close to the due date, what tipped my decision was asking myself, ‘Are there parts of my counselor identity that would inform my work as department head, if selected?’ When I began to form a ‘Yes’ answer, I became excited about applying.
What did you do before you came to UT?
I coordinated a school counseling MS program at a teaching focused institution, where I had been for seven years, including tenure and promotion to assistant professor. Prior to faculty work, I had experience both as a school counselor and clinical mental health counselor, licensed in both areas, and with work experience spanning multiple states and overseas. Before gravitating to counseling as the focus of my career, I was a high school teacher, with particular strengths in reaching very troubled students.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
While I am encouraged for my new role, it is also daunting as I consider the difficult decisions that we will make together in the coming years. I know I need and will continue to ask the support of each faculty and staff member of EPC. We each need to be working as well as we possibly can for our own and each other’s benefit.