Welcome back to campus! I hope each of you had a wonderful summer.
This is my favorite time of year, when everyone arrives on campus excited to begin a new academic year.
At more than 4,800 strong, our freshman class is the largest it has been in at least forty years. I am also pleased to welcome 1,300 transfer students and more than 1,500 graduate students to the Volunteer family.
Let’s make these new members of our community feel at home on Rocky Top. Take a moment to exchange a greeting or help a new Vol find their classroom.
This week is filled with more than forty Welcome Week events to help our new Vols settle in to campus life. From Monday’s visit by NASA astronaut Scott Kelly to Vol Night Long on Friday, there are many opportunities to get involved and have some fun.
I know everyone is glad that a thousand parking spaces were added to campus when we opened the new Volunteer Boulevard Garage. And just last week we opened White Hall, a new residence hall and the first completed building in our west campus redevelopment.
Our campus is improving in many ways, and we continue to find opportunities to be even better.
Our strategic plan, Vol Vision, includes a new priority on diversity and inclusion, and we have established a diversity work group to begin immediate implementation of that priority. We share a responsibility to look after one another and do all that we can to provide a safe and welcoming environment for all Volunteers.
This time of year reminds us of the many people, places, and traditions that help make Rocky Top special.
I wish everyone a great semester of success, the company of wonderful friends and colleagues, and experiences that create memories to last a lifetime.