Tennessee Alumnus

Up Close with Joe DiPietro

For the Spring 2018 issue, Steven Bridges photographed Joe DiPietro with a few of his favorite things—personal items that are meaningful to him or you might see him using every day.

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AVMA pin: Indicating membership in the American Veterinary Medical Association—the “Dr.” sometimes in front of DiPietro’s name refers to his education and training as a doctor of veterinary medicine, at which he spent 16 years in large-animal practice.


UT trustee lapel pin: Exclusive to members of the UT Board of Trustees, on which he serves as an ex officio member by virtue of holding the office of UT president.


iPad Pro and iPhone X: DiPietro is a self-described tech geek whose favorite rainy-day activity is “browsing through Best Buy just to smell the new electronics.”


Fountain pen collector: His late father, Alphonso DiPietro, passed on his 1940 vintage collection and the love of fine pens.


Cufflinks: He wears them often with suits, and these were a wedding gift from his wife, Deb. DiPietro says he wears this set to every UT board meeting for good luck, as he has to job interviews ever since he received them: “Every time I’ve worn them, I got the job.”


Jar of worms: Yep, that’s what they are. From veterinary practice, DiPietro realized the extent of parasites as a large-animal health problem. As a scientist, he chose parasitology as his research focus, and he led a team that developed treatments for migrating stages of equine roundworms, a collection of which is preserved in the jar.


Longines wrist watch: A beloved family heirloom, given by his late mother, Luisa DiPietro, to his father as a wedding present. When DiPietro inherited it, the watch had stopped working. He took it to a jeweler for repair and learned the gold case meant it had significant material value in addition to the even greater sentimental value. As DiPietro says, “I always wear it to difficult meetings because it makes me feel like I have my dad there to help me.”


Socks: This pair is from his large and colorful collection. With a job that most often calls for conservative suits, DiPietro says he enjoys wearing socks that are less staid and traditional and that make people smile.



Dr. Joe DiPietro has served as UT president since January 2011.