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Fulfilling our promise to deliver our best to Tennesseans

In the nine years that I have been away from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, I’ve watched this university grow and flourish.

Our academic programs and faculty continue to gain national acclaim, and our student body grows larger and more accomplished every year. The campus has been transformed thanks to an infusion of support from donors and the state.

This September marks 225 years since the University of Tennessee was founded under the name Blount College on a commitment of access to education and training. Some 70 years later, the federal government doubled down on that promise, establishing UT as a land-grant institution. It was an investment we made as a nation on the understanding that education should be accessible to all and that it is good not just for the people who obtain it, but for everyone.

UT still delivers on that promise today through our mission of providing access to education, conducting life-changing research, and serving the communities of Tennessee.

We want all Tennessee students to feel they belong at the state’s flagship university and we want to give them every opportunity to attend. Nearly 90 percent of in-state applicants are offered a pathway to admission, and we are investing in scholarship programs like UT Promiseto make that education more affordable.

In Tennessee the median annual income of college graduates is about 70 percent more than that of their peers with a high school degree. People with college degrees go on to start businesses, inform public policy, and become teachers, nurses,farmers, and engineers across the state and around the world. They extend the value of education to their children and their children’s children.

Through our research we are making Tennessee families healthier, safer, and more prosperous.

For example, our partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory supports the development of the next generation of manufacturing and advanced computing. Our research collaborations with the military make our troops safer and our nation more secure. Our advances in the fields of teaching, nursing, and engineering better prepare our graduates to go into their communities and make an impact.

Across the state, UT’s extension services and outreach programs offered by the Institute of Agriculture support farmers, families, and Tennessee’s economy by helping secure the future of our state’s agriculture industry and improving the quality of life in all 95 counties.

The lives that are made better by the work we do will always be our greatest contribution. We work every day to fulfill the promise we made more than two centuries ago to deliver our best to the people of Tennessee.

Our land-grant mission sets us apart from most universities, but what truly makes UT special is our legacy of leadership—the willingness of Vols to serve and their courage to act. Tennessee’s history is steeped in the tradition of Volunteers stepping forward and leading by example.

I am honored to carry on that important tradition.

I am proud to be a Tennessee Volunteer.