(Oct. 26, 2020) Dr. Wilsie Bishop, Senior Vice President for Academics and Interim Provost, announced that she will retire on June 30, 2021, after a 43-year career at East Tennessee State University.
Bishop came to ETSU as a temporary faculty member in the College of Nursing in 1978. Since that time, she earned tenure and progressed through the faculty ranks, serving in administrative roles including department chair, dean, and assistant/associate vice president prior to becoming a vice president in 2005. While serving in various administrative roles, she has continued to be a classroom teacher as well as a mentor for doctoral and graduate students.
“Nothing is more satisfying to me than to know that at the core of my administrative experiences I am a teacher who understands the responsibilities and challenges that the word ‘professor’ embodies,” Bishop said. “The value I place on the faculty role including teaching, research, and service has guided my decisions and actions these past 42 years.”
Throughout her career at ETSU, Bishop has observed and been a part of many important changes at the university. After 11 years of serving as Dean of the College of Public and Allied Health, Bishop was appointed Vice President for Administration and Chief Operating Officer of the university in 2005. This role took her out of the academic arena and into university operations when she assumed responsibility for Athletics, Facilities Planning, Human Resources, Information Technology, Public Safety and Student Affairs. However, her academic background provided a context for decision-making and communication with faculty and staff that was invaluable for me and in many ways for the university.
In 2007, she transitioned to Vice President for Health Affairs (VPHA), becoming the first non-physician to hold the VPHA title. In this position, she embraced and led the university’s Interprofessional Education (IPE) and the team-based care that it embodied as the future of quality health care delivery. Through the IPE initiative, ETSU not only created opportunities for shared classroom experiences, but was able to create a building where team-based learning is the priority and students can work and study together in preparation for their future careers as health care providers. The Interprofessional Education and Research Center (Building 60) is a physical symbol of vision becoming reality.
Bishop also oversaw the launch of the ETSU Health brand in 2019, which unified the educational, clinical and research pursuits of ETSU’s five health sciences colleges, more than 250 providers and 35 clinical sites.
In her most recent role as Senior Vice President for Academics and Interim Provost, Bishop built upon the work that now-retired Provost Dr. Bert Bach established to bring together under one management umbrella the academic affairs and health affairs of the colleges of the university.
“This challenge spoke to the need to value what each college brings to the identity of ETSU at the same time promoting what is unique about who we are,” Bishop said. “I have drawn upon my background in organizational theory to create an environment that incorporates the values of ETSU and empowers all those individuals who are part of our academic programs to step up and step forward toward creating a culture of excellence.”
Throughout her career at ETSU, Bishop has received numerous national, statewide, and university awards recognizing her work in higher education. In 2013, she was inducted into the Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame. Most recently, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges awarded its highest honor to Bishop – the 2019 James T. Rogers Distinguished Leadership Award.
“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I want to thank Dr. Bishop for her service to the university,” said ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland. “Throughout the course of her career, she has made a defined difference at our institution.”
As she looks toward the last months of her time at ETSU, Bishop says she will remain focused on work still ahead.
“I will continue to work without ceasing for the remainder of my employment at ETSU as I realize there is still much yet to do,” Bishop said. “Next June, when I hand in my keys and walk away, I will leave the University with a sense of accomplishment, a sense of pride, and a sense of anticipation for what this University will become and what it will continue to mean to the lives of the people of this region.”