Vice President for Academic Affairs, Research and Student Success
400 W Summit Hill Dr. – UT Tower 1260
Knoxville, TN 37902
Bernie Savarese, vice president for academic affairs, research and student success, joined the University of Tennessee System in October of 2021. In this role, he works closely with campus leadership, including chief academic, research, and student affairs officers, to coordinate and promote high-quality academic and student experiences. At the UT System, Bernie leads the offices of academic affairs, research, student success, institutional effectiveness, access and engagement, and the Tennessee Grow Your Own Center, while serving as the staff liaison to the Education, Research and Service Committee of the UT Board of Trustees. Bernie proudly represents the UT System in state, regional, and national initiatives linked to the university’s academic and student enterprise.
Prior to joining the University of Tennessee, Bernie served as the Assistant Vice President for Student Success and the Student Experience at New York University (NYU) from 2017 to 2021. In this role, he oversaw the creation of the Office of Student Success and its numerous departments, worked collaboratively with faculty and student leaders, led NYU’s Student Success Steering Committee, and served as a subject matter expert and resource. Prior to joining NYU, Bernie worked at The Ohio State University for almost two decades, most recently serving as the director of the university’s nationally recognized First Year Experience (FYE) program while also leading teams in Undergraduate Admissions and working closely with students and faculty. Before his time in FYE and Enrollment Management, Bernie held various leadership roles spanning academic and student services in Ohio State’s Division of Student Life.
Born in Wheeling, West Virginia, Bernie was raised across the Ohio River in Belmont County, Ohio. He went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and an MBA from The Ohio State University, a Master of Arts in College Student Personnel from Bowling Green State University, and his Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Leadership and Innovation from New York University where his dissertation focused on the early college experiences that support the success of Black men at research universities. He has also taught courses in both educational leadership and leadership development.
Bernie has been recognized with honors such as Bowling Green State University’s President’s Award for Distinguished Service, New York University’s Making a Difference Award, and he was inducted into the 2016 Class of “Forty Under 40” by Columbus Business First. Bernie currently serves on multiple boards including serving as Chair of the Board of Directors for the Ohio State University’s Alumni Association. Bernie speaks nationally and internationally on topics ranging from academic and student success, access and affordability, and leadership development, to enhancing belonging across the academy.
Bernie currently lives in Knoxville with his wife, Krystyne their two teenage sons, Anthony and Ben, and their spunky Boston Terrier, Rocky.