Class: Chancellor’s Honors 2014
Major: College Scholars- Organizational Behavior
Current Position: Assistant Director of Fiscal Policy and Research
After graduating from the Chancellor’s Honors program, Taylor Odle moved to Nashville to continue his efforts on the policy side of higher education. Completing his master’s degree at Vanderbilt, he now works at the Tennessee Higher Education Commission as the Assistant Director of Fiscal Policy and Research. Taylor credits his Honors experience with helping him find and pursue his passion for higher education policy and quantitative methods.
According to Taylor, Honors taught him to how to recognize and capitalize on his strengths. “Everyone in Honors is smart. Being in the program taught me how to differentiate myself based on specific skills, a trait that I’ve needed to use in graduate school and the workplace.”
Through this differentiation, Taylor was able to find his niche at UT. Serving on academic committees and policy focused organizations on campus helped Taylor expand his understanding and zeal for higher education policy. He says, “Honors opened the door for a lot of programs I did at UT. Getting connected with the Provost and College Scholars got me interested in the budgeting side of higher education”. Taylor maintains that Honors “distinguished and legitimized” him when applying to organizations such as the faculty senate and the undergraduate council and “warranted his ability to sit at the table”.
Now Taylor oversees all of the financial policies for the two systems governing Tennessee universities. His role is to help the state funnel money to the universities and maintain the formula that decides which universities get what. In his job, Taylor has a hand in everything from performance evaluation to approving budgets for new buildings on campuses across the state. The skills and connections Taylor cultivated through Honors continue to help him in this role. According to him, “Honors introduced me to people I would later work with and become good friends and colleagues with. It is always good to see a familiar face”. The Honors value of critical awareness has also been essential to his role. “Because I do research, understanding multiple points of view and being able to combine them with my understanding and knowledge is crucial. Critically analyzing where information is coming from and what you’re disseminating is important, whether it’s how you speak to your friends or how you write for research journals.”
Taylor continues to be passionate about making seemingly esoteric information more accessible and useful for individuals, scholars, and policymakers. In the fall, Taylor will pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania in order to pursue his goal of becoming a faculty member and creating new information for public policy use. Taylor encourages students to pursue Honors & Scholars at UT because he believes that the “holistic honors model provides the opportunity world-class education”.