The many years of service of the Frederick W. Obear family will be remembered with a permanent plaque on the site of the Johnson/Obear Apartments. Family, friends and colleagues gathered for the dedication of a portion of the apartments on September 16.
Dr. Fred Obear, Chancellor Emeritus, has served UTC in many capacities since his arrival in 1981. Following his retirement in 1997, he continued to work for the campus in development and external relations. In 2004, when UTC was faced with the departure of then-Chancellor Bill Stacy, Obear stepped forward again at the request of President John Petersen, leaving retirement and taking the helm of the institution as interim chancellor, said Chancellor Roger Brown.
“Since my arrival as chancellor in 2005, Dr. Obear has served as an invaluable mentor and friend, and he has continued to work in development and external relations for the campus,” Brown said.
Saying UTC continues to benefit from Obear’s leadership, Brown commended the former chancellor’s efforts to move the campus forward in the metropolitan university movement, encouraging campus administration and faculty to become more engaged with the Chattanooga community.
“Under his leadership, research and teaching partnerships were initiated with TVA, the Tennessee Aquarium, Komatsu, and other businesses in the region. These partnerships continue to bring opportunities to the students and faculty of UTC, even today,” Brown said.
Brown added that Obear’s work was assisted by two equally dedicated wives. Trisha Obear, who died prior to Chancellor Obear’s first retirement, became a leader in the arts community in Chattanooga and is well-remembered for her concern and dedication to students. During Obear’s one-year term as interim chancellor, Ruth Obear took special interest in UTC’s student-athletes and worked to improve their facilities and increase community support.
While Obear was chancellor, the University progressed in many areas:
- UTC rose in U.S. News and World Report rankings
- UTC’s College of Engineering was ranked among the top 30
- The University of Chattanooga Foundation endowment quadrupled from $15 million to $63 million
- UTC continually earned the highest THEC performance funding rating among Tennessee universities
- UTC exceeded its 21st Century Campaign goal by raising more than $24 million
- UTC launched new baccalaureate programs in physical therapy and legal assistant studies and graduate programs in English, nursing, business, public administration and environmental sciences
- African-American enrollment at UT Chattanooga began an upward trend, leading UTC to become the most diverse public university in Tennessee
“Since his retirement, Dr. Obear and Mrs. Obear remain committed to supporting students, athletics and the arts. They are on campus often attending events—for students, it’s like seeing our favorite aunt and uncle,” said Scott Stuart, SGA President.
From left: Scott Stuart, SGA President, Debbie Obear Evans, Ruth Obear, Dr. Fred Obear, Chancellor Roger Brown.