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UT College of Social Work Announces First Endowed Chair

The University of Tennessee College of Social Work announces the establishment of the Roger and Carol Nooe Endowed Chair. This gift will support a senior scholar with research expertise in mental health practice.

It is the first endowed chair in the college’s 81-year history. The chair is funded by a $2 million gift from Phillip and Janet Lawson. “We are thrilled to announce this landmark gift,” said UTCSW Dean Dr. Lori Messinger. “An endowed chair will enable us to attract a top scholar to the college who can help move the needle on mental health practice in East Tennessee and nationally.”

The chair was established to honor Dr. Roger Nooe and his wife, Carol. Dr. Nooe, Professor Emeritus at the UT College of Social Work, began his career at UT in 1975 as Knoxville Branch Director and Associate Dean. A longtime Knoxville scholar and therapist, he has worked tirelessly to strengthen the community’s response to homelessness, mental illness, and other challenges facing local families. He retired in 2005 after 30 years of teaching, mentoring and inspiring students.

Dr. Nooe graduated from Maryville College and has MSW and PhD degrees from Tulane University. In addition to his long career at UT, his experience includes positions on the faculty of the University of Kentucky, and with the Kentucky Department of Mental Health, Bluegrass Comprehensive Care Center, Cherokee Health, and in private practice and program consultation.

For over 25 years, Dr Nooe has actively researched homelessness and authored biennial reports on Knox area homelessness. Dr. Nooe chaired the Mayors’ task force to develop the Ten-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness and later served as the director of the implementation office for the plan. He was the first president of the Knoxville-Knox County Coalition for Homelessness.

Dr. Nooe helped to establish the Public Defender’s Community Law Office and served as its director of social services. The program was one of the first of its kind in the country and serves as a model for other public defender’s offices nationwide. He has been a consultant for CAC and Americorps and served on numerous community boards, including Legacy Housing Foundation, Cherokee Health Systems, East Tennessee Mental Health Association, and the Symposium for the Advancement of Family Therapy.

Among the many awards Dr. Nooe has received are the NASW Knoxville Branch Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 and the UT College of Social Work’s Heart of Social Work Award in 2008. He was also honored twice with the UT National Alumni Association’s Public Service Award in 1987 and 2003.

Carol Nooe is a graduate of Maryville College and founder of Nooe’s Interiors, a noted interior design firm. She has generously contributed her talents to numerous community projects, including the renovation of Minvilla Manor, which offers supportive housing in Knoxville, as well as the Knox Area Rescue Ministries and Flenniken Landing.

“We are happy to recognize Roger and Carol’s outstanding achievements and their impact on the university and the community,” said Phillip Lawson. “Roger played a key role in the growth and development of the College of Social Work. Today, its graduates improve the lives of children, families, and people in need across the state and region. We’re proud to support this important work.”

There will be a formal recognition and celebration of the Roger and Carol Nooe Endowed Chair at a reception on March 23 at the Knoxville Botanical Garden.


Angela Thomas
(865) 974-8638