Matthew C. Riley decided to attend UT after spending only 24 hours on campus.
While visiting UT as a speaker at the School of Veterinary Medicine, Riley was struck by the "awesome" campus. Prior to his first foray into Big Orange Country, Riley received degrees from Butler University and Penn State, in addition to joining the army as a microbiologist. Now a second year graduate student in Comparative and Experimental Medicine, Riley is an active member on the Graduate Student Senate and the UTK Technology Advisory Board. With his experience and newly discovered passion for UT, Riley hopes to "make real change" as a member of the Board of Trustees.
Why did you decide to run for the Board of Trustees Representative?
"It's a tough question to answer. I think the simple answer that everybody says is 'I want to make a difference,' but that's not really specific enough for me. It came up as an issue in the graduate student senate, we kind of talked about should we, as a graduate student population, have someone run, and I volunteered. I said, 'I have experience with administration, for sure, as well as an eye for politics.' It's one of those things where, especially with some recent issues with invited speakers, which I was one, I think we've been very concerned about. We thought: if you're concerned, why not try to do something about it?"
If elected, what are some of the major issues you plan to address?
"That's a difficult question because the Board of Trustees position is not like the rest of the student government. In fact, it's not student government. You are a representative of all the students. You are participating in the Board of Trustees. I've reviewed a lot of past minutes and meetings from the board of trustees and I've spoken with my state senators and congressmen to learn about the issues that the Board deals with.
"The faculty senate, the graduate senate and the undergraduate student government association are all concerned currently by the elephant in the room – the two senate bills, plus the resolution that recently passed, and students having a say or not having say in how some of their fees are being distributed. As a member of the Technology Advisory Board, I've been really impressed with the fact that students really do have a say and the administration takes it very seriously. That was really impressive to me, which was another reason I decided to run."
Why should you be elected as the Board of Trustees Representative?
"I have experience. I was an undergraduate, I've been to three different universities, I've studied at Oxford in the UK and I have a government job. I have experience not just in education but also in administration, and that's going to be something I think is key to this particular position."