Dr. Philip B. Oldham, who joined the university July 1, 2012, as its ninth president, is a former collegiate tennis player who understands the demands on student athletes and who values how college athletics enhance the university and surrounding community.
President Oldham previously served as provost and senior vice chancellor of academic affairs at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, a position he had held since 2007. He received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Freed-Hardeman University in 1980 and his doctorate in analytical chemistry from Texas A&M University in 1985.
He spent a year following his graduate work as a Wellcome Research Fellow at Burroughs Wellcome Co. (Glaxo Smith-Kline) before joining the faculty at Mississippi State University in 1986. Oldham served as head of Mississippi State University’s chemistry department for five years prior to becoming MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences dean in 2001.
During his five years as provost at UTC, enrollment grew 28 percent to more than 11,400 students. He led efforts to improve student retention and graduation rates resulting in a 15 percent increase in freshmen retention in just three years. Under his leadership, UTC established the Center for Advisement and Student Success, created the Math Plaza and initiated UTeaChattanooga to educate future teachers.
He oversaw the addition of doctoral programs in advanced nursing practice and occupational therapy as well as the redesign of summer school. Under his guidance, the university raised significant private support, received board approval to create the University Honors College and launched a creative new “Degree in 3” program designed to accelerate degree completion at reduced student costs.
Oldham has served on statewide task forces to develop the new higher education funding formula for Tennessee and to create universal transfer pathways to provide seamless student transfers across all Tennessee public colleges and universities.
Along with his administrative accomplishments, Oldham has authored more than 35 peer reviewed research articles in analytical chemistry, along with two patents and approximately 100 conference presentations. His research has been financially supported by the National Science Foundation, American Chemical Society, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Geological Survey and private industry. He has served on a number of scholarly editorial boards and as a peer reviewer for both the NSF and National Institutes of Health.
Oldham and his wife, Kari, are proud of their family, which includes three sons (Clay, Paden and Sam), a daughter (Audrey) and a daughter-in-law (Rebecca).