The role of university chancellor is a stressful one, but Dr. Keith Carver, chancellor at the University of Tennessee at Martin, has a strong family supporting him every step of the way.
Helping to lead that family is Hollianne Carver, Keith’s wife, who looks forward to her time as the UT Martin’s first lady.
“I’m really excited to see what opportunities present themselves," she said. "I love being in a support role for Keith, and I love being involved in the community, in aspects from education to volunteering and being involved with whatever’s going on."
Carver, a Lexington, Tennessee native, has followed her husband through several states, but is glad to be returning to western Tennessee soon.
“It’s wonderful. We’re so excited; it just feels like home,” she said of their move to Martin.
The couple’s three children – daughter, Carson, 18, and sons, Jack Thomas, 15, and Britton, 11 – will join Keith in Martin at the end of the school year.
Even from afar, UT Martin’s new first lady doesn’t take her role lightly. She is dedicated to her family and to supporting Keith throughout his tenure at the university and beyond.
“It’s a team effort," she said. "I believe in him. I believe in what he does, and when you love somebody you want to support them."
The UT Martin chancellor’s position was officially posted last year, and the Carver family joined in prayer when deciding whether or not to take the leap.
“We were excited, cautiously optimistic, a little afraid. It’s a lot to think about,” she said. “We prayed diligently for God to open the doors – clearly open the doors – to where we were supposed to be and to shut those that were not the right path. We were excited and anxious and very, very prayerful.”
Hollianne and Keith met while students at Memphis State University and married in August 1995, shortly after graduation. She ha a Bachelor’s Degree in education from Memphis State University and a Master’s Degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She taught pre-kindergarten through eighth grade for 11 years.
“I chose education because I love working with children," she said. "I get a lot of energy from them, and it was just where I felt like my niche was. I think of myself as a kindergarten teacher...It’s a fun age. I love them. They’re fun, and it’s all brand-new, and they love you.”
She also taught as an adjunct instructor in the UT Martin Department of Educational Studies for a short time before the couple made the move to eastern Tennessee in 2010. She has also done grant work for the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
The Carver’s love of UT Martin and the western Tennessee region is evident through their dedication to the university and surrounding communities.
“For me and Hollianne, returning to our heritage at UT Martin and our family connections in West Tennessee is our homecoming 2017,” Keith said. “We look forward to the opportunity to build strong alliances with the students, faculty, staff and the region, and we are glad to be home with old friends and are ready to make new ones...Hollianne and I look forward to the beginning of our journey, together, with the extended family at the University of Tennessee at Martin.”