By ALEX JACOBI
Special to the Press
After almost three and a half decades as an employee at the University of Tennessee at Martin, Steve Vantrease has decided to officially retire as the director of the Boling University Center this month.
“I’ll be taking a part-time job with the University of Tennessee Foundation, working in the Alumni Association. And basically what I’ll be doing is working with alumni clubs and chapters throughout West Tennessee to help promote the interest of the university,” Vantrease said.
Vantrease said John Abel, the University Center’s assistant director, will fill in the gap until a more permanent replacement is established.
Vantrease doesn’t expect much to change in his everyday life.
“I will still be a part of the Weakley County School Board. We’ll have to see how the new job goes and what my travel schedule is and things like that, but other than just not being on campus everyday, I really don’t anticipate a whole lot of change in my life. … I’m still not leaving Martin, and I still imagine that I will be on campus fairly often,” Vantrease said.
As for his new job, Vantrease said that it is a chance to slow down in life, yet still be involved with the University.
“I have been a volunteer with the Alumni Association basically for 10 years or more. [So I know] some of these people that I will be working with now, and it’s a really neat camaraderie.
“Students may not realize this now, but once you’re out of school, there’s almost 350,000 UTM alumni scattered throughout the world and so through the alumni association, … you’ve got basically a built-in network anywhere around the world that you can tap into,” Vantrease said.
In addition to serving as the director of the University Center, Vantrease earned his undergraduate degree in finance at UT Martin.
When he began working at UT Martin, Vantease said he mostly was an accountant who eventually moved to up to the University Center director.
“When I started the job, it was more of an accounting position. We operated our own food service and bookstore, and we were actually like a $3 million business. And so I was basically hired in as a financial manager to help work with the bookkeeping and the accounting systems and the things a big business needs.
“Right after I graduated, the director at the time, Russell Duncan, who the University Center ballroom is named after, was retiring, so I started going to graduate school [here, and when] a job opened up; I applied for it, and I was selected for it,” Vantrease said.
“So it just really worked out that I got to stay in this area, which I really like. I like Northwest Tennessee; I like Martin,” Vantrease said.
Not only does Vantrease like the area, but he has also enjoyed the people and work.
“I’m going to try to put a lot of my time into the new job that I’m doing, because I’ll have to get to know people all around West Tennessee, and that’s going to be
a big change for me, … but I will try to stay engaged in the campus,” Vantrease said.
“Every day, I hope I have contributed to the education of a young person. I’m not a teacher, I’m not a faculty member, but I’m hoping through an interaction in working with them (students) outside of the classroom, that they’ve gotten something – a good feeling or maybe an experience that they may not have had or maybe something in their work ethic or something thathas benefited them,” Vantrease said.
“That’s basically what we do is serve students, serve the campus and [serve the] community to help take care of their needs. I hope that students have been better off by coming to UT Martin rather than somewhere else and that we’ve got a level of service that meets their expectations or better.”
Alex Jacobi is a junior communications major from Dyersburg.
Published in The WCP 4.9.13