In the next several issues of Update, we are profiling the deans of our colleges and schools. In this issue, we highlight
Dr. Dan Lattimore, dean of the University College, vice provost for Extended Programs
and dean of the Lambuth Campus.
Dr. Dan Lattimore
What do you miss about being a professor?
“Being in administration it’s difficult to teach, but I still enjoy it. I try to teach
at least one or two courses a year. This semester, for example, I’m teaching a public
relations course at the Lambuth Campus. I don’t have to teach, but I choose to when
I can. Sometimes it’s an online course; this time it’s an on-campus course. I’ve tried
to do that throughout my 26 years in administration. I got into higher education to
teach, not to be an administrator, so I stay true to that.”
What is your favorite U of M or Lambuth Campus tradition?
“I think that baccalaureate is my favorite because it celebrates the academic achievement
of the students. They are so pleased when their parents and friends can see them in
a small setting being celebrated for this achievement.”
Why did you choose to come to the U of M?
“I was recruited to come to Memphis as chair of the Department of Journalism. I had
dinner at a public relations convention in Washington, D.C., with one of the professors
at that time, Dr. Bill Brody. The purpose of that dinner was so that he could ask
me to apply for the chair position (which I did). That was in early October. I received
a call in January from someone in the Department of Journalism asking me to come for
an interview. I came, looked at the department, and I remember calling my wife that
night and saying, ‘It’s a nice place, but I don’t think I will pursue it.’ However,
Richard Ranta (dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts) persuaded me that
there was a great deal of opportunity here and that I could make a difference in putting
the department back on the right track. I decided to leave my tenured, full professor
job at Colorado State University to come to Memphis in 1987.”
What do you enjoy most about being dean of the University College?
“I enjoy being able to provide access to education. I think that’s one of our key
goals at the U of M. University College provides a means for all students, but especially
adult students, to complete their degrees. We have about 25 guideline programs, or
major programs, and then we provide a ‘design your own major’ for those who have interdisciplinary
interests but don’t fit a traditional mold.”
What is the most challenging aspect of your position?
“Right now, the most challenging thing is keeping up with three jobs — University
College, Extended Programs and the U of M Lambuth Campus. Splitting my time is the
most challenging aspect.”
What did you want to be when you grew up?
“I wanted to be a Foreign Services Officer. I wanted to work for the U.S. Department
of State overseas, doing work in an embassy. So, I actually have a master’s degree
in economic development. I got that in the ’60s when the U.S. was forming the United
States Agency for International Development (USAID). I really wanted to be involved
with that. I didn’t end up doing it right away, but some years later, I did work for
about 10 years with USAID in many foreign countries. So I got a little of that, even
though I wasn’t a Foreign Services Officer.”
You split your time between the U of M main campus and Lambuth campus, serving as
vice provost of Extended Programs, dean of the Lambuth Campus and dean of the University
College. What has been the most rewarding experience of linking the campuses?
“I think it’s seeing the excitement on the student’s faces as they become the foundation
for the next generation of U of M Lambuth Campus students. They are creating the tradition
and groundwork for everyone else that is to come. I think seeing their excitement
from being able to start new clubs, organizations and working on service projects
creates camaraderie on campus. They’re creating the atmosphere of a small college
campus, but they have this large University support system. For example, it was great
to see 41 students who were graduating last spring come with their parents and friends
to the baccalaureate program on the U of M Lambuth Campus. They were just thrilled
to be there and be a part of the new Lambuth Campus. Or, (it was also rewarding) when
we had 700 students, alumni and community people come to a Tiger Tour event at the
Lambuth Campus to celebrate this new beginning.”
What’s the best advice you’ve given to a student?
“Go to every class. That’s what I told my children. Participate in campus activities
and clubs, get involved and take advantage of our internship programs so you can get
some actual work experience before you graduate.”
What’s the best advice you’ve received, and who gave you the advice?
“Keep focused on your goals in life. I’ve heard that from more than one person, from
my parents to my major adviser in graduate school.”
What are some of your hobbies?
“I like to play golf. Something I like but haven’t gotten to do much lately is go
fishing. While I was in Colorado, I could be on a stream in 30 minutes fly-fishing,
but I can’t do that now. And I like doing family history. I will, at some point, write
some of it in some form for my kids.”
Tell us about your family.
“All my immediate family is involved in the academic world. My wife of 44 years, Bonnie,
just retired from 18 years of teaching college nursing. I have three children. Laurie,
my older daughter, is married and has our two grandsons, ages 6 and 3. She is a journalism
professor at the College of Charleston. My other daughter, Diana, is an exercise science
professor at the University of San Francisco. My son, who is an architect, is married
and finishing his dissertation in an interdisciplinary program of architecture, built
environment and city and regional planning at Clemson University. And he teaches some
at Clemson. We travel a lot to see all of them.”