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A year of joyful moments and new challenges ahead

Dear students, faculty, and staff,

Just a few weeks ago, I watched a new class of Vols take their Torch Night pledge in Neyland Stadium. This ceremony is one of my favorite moments of the year, and the pledge our students take is a moving commitment to step forward in moments big and small and to represent the University of Tennessee with honesty, compassion, and courage. It’s a pledge meant for our students, but it is a promise we all share as Volunteers.


These first few weeks of the semester have been full of both joyful moments and new challenges. Having our campus full again makes Rocky Top feel like home. But we know this pandemic is not over, and we are all dependent on one another to do our part to keep ourselves and one another safe. I want to thank everyone for wearing their masks while indoors. And if you have not received your vaccine, please consider doing so now. We continue to offer appointments to anyone who wants the vaccine at the Student Health Center.

While there will no doubt be obstacles ahead, we have a lot to celebrate and look forward to. This university is educating more students, conducting more high-level research, and connecting with more Tennesseans than at any time in our history. We have spent the past two years collaborating on a shared strategic vision that will help guide us into the future. It’s a vision that not only places value on our work and our academic success but also leans into the spirit of collaboration, compassion, and leadership that defines us as Volunteers and brings meaning to that work.

I will share more about this vision, what we have accomplished, and what we hope to accomplish during my third annual Flagship Address on September 21 in the Student Union Auditorium. I hope you will join me there.

Until then, thank you for all that you do to support our mission and one another.

Donde Plowman