JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. — A proposed body farm at Carson-Newman University in eastern Tennessee is dead, at least for now.
University officials told the Knoxville News Sentinel that the funding isn’t there to move forward.
“For right now it is off the table,” said Kina Mallard, Carson-Newman’s executive vice president and university provost
The cadaver research center, proposed nearly a year ago, would have helped anchor a graduate-study program in forensic science on a New Market hilltop in rural Jefferson County. Art Bohanan, a nationally known retired fingerprint specialist for the Knoxville Police Department, had planned to donate the site, where students could observe how human bodies and animal carcasses decompose over time and what that decomposition does to the environment.
Only four cadaver research centers, or body farms, exist worldwide, including the world-famous University of Tennessee body farm in Knoxville. None of them study the environmental effects of body decomposition.
Bohanan and other supporters had hoped Jefferson County would host the first.
The plan won the approval of the Jefferson County Board of Zoning Appeals and led to a lawsuit filed by Doris Ligon, a neighboring landowner who said she worried about contamination of her well and the safety of her cattle and horses. The lawsuit is pending, and Ligon’s lawyer, Arthur Seymour Jr., said he hadn’t heard that Carson-Newman had dropped the idea.
Bohanan had already put about $10,000 of his own money into paving a parking lot and erecting fences for the area, which would have covered slightly more than 8 acres. A nonprofit run by Bohanon and other supporters, including retired University of Tennessee anthropology professor William Bass and B.J. Ellington, a former nursing professor at Carson-Newman, planned to administer the research program.
“We’re at a standstill right now,” Bohanan said. “Nothing’s really going on. We upheld our part of the agreement and got it ready to go. We’re disappointed it’s not going to move forward. But we’ll stay intact and see what develops.”
Mallard said Ellington left the faculty in May, which meant Carson-Newman had no one with the expertise to oversee a forensic science program. The school didn’t apply for a grant.
Ellington said the school could have secured funding by hiring a director for the program and then seeking a grant.
“It’s kind of a stalemate on both sides,” Ellington said. “We can’t get any grant money until Carson-Newman hires someone to administer the program.”
Mallard said nothing’s likely to change on Carson-Newman’s end anytime soon.
“They don’t have the money to move forward,” Mallard said. “We don’t have the money to help them. Like a lot of dreams sometimes, this one has to be put aside.”
Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com