Dr. Lee Patouillet Retires After 40 Years Of Service

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After 40 years of dedicated service to higher education, Dr. Lee Patouillet announced his retirement from the University of Tennessee, in February 2020. At the CAAE Winter Institute in Arizona, Lee shared some valuable professional and life lessons with his colleagues and friends in attendance, and was given a rousing standing ovation for his life’s work.

When asked to reflect on his tenure in the profession, Lee paused before thoughtfully replying: “I think the biggest challenge is to ensure our alumni organizations continue to be relevant. Our associations have to be sensitive to the ideas of numerous stakeholders and find ways to ensure our organizations are strategic and valued partners in the educational enterprise,” he said.

As a member of the alumni association executives of the Big Ten Conference and a charter member of CAAE, Lee said that CAAE has inspired and influenced his work over the years. “CAAE has played a very transformative role in my career and allowed me to learn from some of the very best minds in our business,” he said. “Most recently, at the University of Tennessee Advancement Office, we modeled a matching scholarship program after what Calvin Brown was doing at Alabama.”

Lee holds a Bachelor’s degree in American Studies from the University of South Florida, a Master’s degree in Education from University of Tennessee, and a PhD in Administrative and Policy Studies from the University of Pittsburgh. Additionally, his work has received more than 10 CASE Circle of Excellence Awards. Throughout his career, he has witnessed many changes in the industry. He remarked that the greater integration of alumni, development, and communications functions, as well as the industry’s focus on data have been some of the more dramatic developments. 

He cites some of his greatest accomplishments as “being intentional about the professional development of the people I have had the honor of working with throughout my career” and adds that many of those people have become Chief Alumni Officers. He also says that a pivotal moment for him was when a chancellor at one of the universities he served stated that “no organization has had a greater impact on the university’s progress than the alumni organization.” 

Lee plans to spend most of his newfound free time with his family. When asked for his advice for the next generation of leaders in alumni relations, he smiled and replied: “Learn your craft, understand higher education, get a number of mentors, and study best practices.”

Always one to see the whole picture, Lee closed in saying that “every day is a gift. Our jobs are very demanding and try your best to find the right work life balance. Thanks for being such supportive colleagues and dear friends.”

Members interested in honoring Lee’s professional legacy are invited to make a gift to the Patouillet Family Pittsburgh UTK Alumni Chapter Scholarship Endowment.

By Molly Ritvo, freelancer

With Gabrielle Korn (McGill)

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