February 24, 2024

Lonnie Brown, the new dean of the University of Tennessee Law Schoolhas been on the job since July 1.

He receives very positive reviews. One student, Megan Cambre of Atlanta, said, “He is an incredible teacher and really cares about his students. He is strict … Georgia is losing one hell of a professor and mentor.”

A Vanderbilt Law graduate, he comes here from the University of Georgia. He and his wife, Kim, who is from Knoxville, live in West Knox County. He is the second African American dean; Marilyn Yarbrough was the first. She served from 1987 to 1991. She later taught at Duke. She died in 2004.

The law school was without a permanent dean for almost three years after Melanie Wilson’s term expired. A candidate was chosen from South Carolina, but she withdrew before moving here because of disagreements on new programs. UT put the search on hold for over a year. Doug Blaze became acting dean until July 1, 2022. Wilson is now the dean of the law school at Washington and Lee University.



City Law Director Charles Swanson, 68, has set the record for longest service with 11½ years under two majors, Indya Kincannon and Madeline Rogero.

In other news: Dolly Parton announces new $25 million roller coaster, Big Bear Mountain

Read this: Smokes stadium construction starts new phase despite rising price tag — what’s next?

Federal Judge Thomas Varlan, 66, had held the record of 10 years as law director working for me before he moved into private law practice with Bass Berry and Sims.

Swanson also served as City Council attorney for 26½ years and worked in the city law department for two years when Jon Roach, now 78, was city law director. When contacted, Swanson said he was “proud to be a small piece in a city that is growing and people are proud to live in.” Swanson has worked 40 years for the city in some capacity – a majority of his life.

It is likely he will continue as law director the remaining year and a half in Kincannon’s current term and possibly for another four years if she is reelected. That would make 45 years with the city for Swanson, and he would be 73.

The oldest living former city law director is George W. Morton Jr., 94, who worked for the late major and congressman John Duncan. Other living city law directors besides Varlan and Roach include Debra Poplin, 56, Morris Kizer, 71, and Michael Kelley, 61. Poplin is now a federal magistrate judge. One city law director, Robert Crossley, became major and served briefly for 45 days after Duncan was elected to Congress until Leonard Rogers was elected major in a special election.

The Paul White lawsuit against Knox County and Mayor Glenn Jacobs is set for trial in October 2023. White, you may recall, was fired as Knox County Parks and Recreation director over a year ago. Joe Mack is now the director. It is too early to determine whether this may be settled.

David Burkhalter is his attorney, and this column will follow it as it gets closer to trial or is settled. Sometimes, these matters are settled before a trial and depositions produce damaging information on various parties.


Aug. 12: Howard Hogan is 73. Wayne Blasius is 68. Attorney Jack Tallent is 72. Katharine Pearson Criss is 76. Retired Knoxville airport director Bill Marrison is 74. Steven Drevik is 56. Whitney Heins is 41.

Aug. 13: Brad Beal is 52. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is 76. Former first lady of Knoxville Joan Ashe is 72. Kyle Schellinger is 40. Annabel Henley is 60.

Aug. 14: US Sen. Bill Hagerty is 63. Mary Ellen Brewington is 57. Lynne Cheney, wife of former vice president Dick Cheney, is 81. Attorney Nathan Rowell is 53. Attorney David Burkhalter is 72. Jon Lawler is 59. Goran Musinovic is 39.

Take a look: Inside Point b, a new restaurant in West Knoxville

More from Victor Ashe: Will there be any upsets in Knox County races? Victor Ashe assesses the election.

Aug. 15: Princess Anne, daughter of Queen Elizabeth, is 72. Melinda Gates, former wife of Bill Gates, is 58. Rich Ray is 82. Norman Templeton is 61. Attorney George Shields is 37. Lee Iglehart is 82. Keith Stump is 59. Jerry Adams is 61.

Aug. 16: Chris Christenberry is 76. Ned DeLozier is 47. Former councilwoman Brenda Palmer is 76. Adrian Jay, wife of Commissioner Larsen Jay, is 47. Nicholas McCook is 41. Rollin Sterritt is 37. Caeleb Dressel is 26. Travis Brasfield Jr. is 46. John Kulesza is 70.

Aug. 17: Former TVA attorney Maureen McBride is 73. Thomas Hale is 68. Former City Council candidate Elizabeth Murphy is 35.

Aug. 18: Former energy secretary Danny Brouillette, who lives in Knox County, is 60. Former county major Mike Ragsdale is 69. Former first lady Rosalynn Carter is 95. David DuPree is 63. Jered M. Croom is 49. Actor Robert Redford is 86. Jan Elmore is 63. Bill Schwenterly is 77. Matthew McClellan is 83. Charles Van Morgan is 58.

Aug. 19: Former president Bill Clinton is 76. Former second lady Tipper Gore is 74. Susan Pavlis is 67. Lily Seabolt is 34. Barry Winston is 73. Kevin Bailey is 56. Brent Waugh is 40.

Victor Ashe is a former Knoxville major and former ambassador to Poland. He is a columnist for Shopper News.

This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: University of Tennessee law school dean Lonnie Brown wins praise

Related Posts