Dr. John Quinn served as chancellor of UT Knoxville and professor of physics and engineering science and mechanics from 1989 to 1992, when he resigned the chancellorship to assume the Lincoln Willis Chair of Excellence in his research area of condensed matter physics.
He resigned as chancellor in January 1992, following harsh faculty criticism that had become public in November. In addition, members of the search committee appointed by President Alexander to search for a successor to Jack Reese admitted that Quinn had been Alexander’s choice but not their’s. Prior to coming to UT, he earned the BS in physics from St. John’s University (1954) and the PhD in physics from the University of Maryland in 1958. He served as a member of the technical staff of RCA Laboratories from 1959 to 1964; Mary Amanda Wood Visiting Lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania (1961–62); visiting professor of physics at Purdue (1964–65); professor of physics at Brown University (1965–89); associate provost, Brown University (1984–86); Ford Foundation chair, Brown University (1985–89); and dean of the faculty, Brown University (1986–89). He was awarded the ScD Honoris Causa by Purdue in 1992. At the time of his appointment as chancellor, he had authored more than two hundred papers in physics journals and had served as the chairman of the Division of Condensed Matter Physics, the largest division of the American Physical Society.