words like pioneer, innovator, leader, trendsetter, groundbreaker, and pathfinder come to mind. We like to think that those same words describe a Volunteer. That’s why we were so honored to receive the Trailblazer Award for Most Visible Progress from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities this year.
The award recognizes colleges and universities that are successfully implementing programs intended to increase retention and graduation rates. We have reason to be proud of our efforts. Over the past few years, our four-year graduation rate has increased 12 percent and our six-year graduation rate has increased 9 percent. Improvements in these areas are a key component of our journey to the Top 25.
We achieved these numbers, in part, by increasing advising staff by 75 percent and adding more than 700 high-demand classes to ensure students can get into required courses when they need to take them. Creating an energetic campus atmosphere is also vital to student success. Our continued investment in infrastructure for a new student union, additional academic facilities, and residence halls is key to providing high-quality spaces for current and future students to work, study, live, and play.
We are in the fifth year of our journey, and the hard work and determination of our campus community are showing results. In the pages that follow you will learn about other trailblazers—we like to call them Volunteers—who are making the University of Tennessee a better, more vibrant institution every day.
It truly is a great time to be on Rocky Top.
Our Big Orange Freshman Class
In August, 4,700 new students became Vols—the largest entering freshman class in forty years.
Over the summer, eighty-one incoming freshmen attended UT’s first Math Camp. The intensive three-week “boot camp” is designed to improve UT’s retention rates by helping students prepare for the math they need for their desired majors. Students also received tutoring, career counseling, and individualized academic advising sessions.
Outstanding Service for Our Students
Instead of visiting three different offices to take care of key services, students now visit One Stop in the heart of campus. In 2014, student satisfaction with One Stop’s timeliness, courtesy, and professionalism all exceeded 90 percent.
Tennis Duo Serves Up Aces
It was one of the most riveting doubles championship matches ever. In a three-set tiebreaker bonanza, juniors Hunter Reese and Mikelis Libietis won the 2014 NCAA men’s doubles tennis championship. The match was the culmination of a stellar season that saw the duo win two of the three collegiate majors and go to the finals of the third.
Faculty Spotlight: George Pharr
This year, George Pharr was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. Pharr is a research leader in understanding the strength of nanoscale materials to improve technologies related to energy production, electronics, and modern medicine.
UT to Lead National Composites Manufacturing Institute
The White House has selected UT to head up the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, a 122-member consortium of universities, businesses, states, and government organizations focused on developing the next wave of manufacturing techniques and materials.
Return on Investment
The impact of the University of Tennessee reaches far beyond its students. UT is also a powerful economic driver for the state of Tennessee, creating nearly 33,000 jobs. A new report shows that while the university received $183 million in state appropriations during fiscal year 2013–14, it generated $1.6 billion in income for the state of Tennessee. Now that is return on investment.
Big Orange Give Triples Goal
The idea was simple: use social media to raise $250,000 in 125 hours during the week of Homecoming. Thanks to the generosity of our alumni and friends, we more than tripled our goal. More than three-quarters of the gifts were under $100. Small gifts really do add up to something very significant.
Private donations are key to our progress toward the Top 25. They provide scholarships for students, help us recruit and retain stellar faculty, and improve the Volunteer experience for all.
UT Dedicates First Named College
For the first time in its history, UT has named a college in honor of an alumnus and donor. The Haslam College of Business was named for James A. Haslam II after the Haslam family gave $50 million in his honor.