From 1794 to 1968, the president of the University of Tennessee was the head of the Knoxville campus, its branches, and extension elements. In 1968 the university was reorganized into a multicampus system in which the heads of the constituent campuses were designated as chancellors. In a 1999 reorganization of the university, the Office of Chancellor was eliminated at Knoxville effective January 1, 2000, with the retirement of Chancellor William T. Snyder, but retained for Martin and Chattanooga. Chancellor John Shumaker announced the restoration of the title effective in January 2003, to be held by Vice President and Provost Loren Crabtree. The board of trustees for Knoxville at its June 2003 meeting officially restored the title by the confirmation of Loren Crabtree as chancellor of UT Knoxville and vice president for academic affairs of the newly reorganized University of Tennessee system.
Chancellors of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and positions they held immediately prior to assuming the chancellorship are Dr. Charles Weaver, 1968–71 (dean, UT Knoxville College of Engineering); Dr. Archie Dykes, 1971–73 (chancellor, UT Martin); Dr. John Prados, acting chancellor, 1973 (dean of Admissions and Records); Dr. Jack E. Reese, 1973–89 (UT Knoxville associate vice chancellor for academic affairs); Dr. John Quinn, 1989–92 (dean of the faculty, Brown University); Dr. William Snyder, 1992–99 (acting vice chancellor for academic affairs and dean of the College of Engineering); Dr. Loren Crabtree, 2003–8 (provost; the title of chancellor had been abolished); Dr. Jan Simek, acting chancellor 2008–9 (chief of staff, UT Knoxville); Dr. Jimmy G. Cheek, 2009–current (senior vice president for Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Florida).