November Monthly Message: Celebrating Our Students and Their Success
The Volunteer experience we are creating for our students has been a key driver of enrollment growth at UT Knoxville—both attracting new students and helping those already here to succeed. In fact, roughly half of our enrollment growth is from returning students who are persisting toward their degrees.
Our innovative approach of leveraging students’ strengths and creating community is moving the needle on our persistence rates and it is prompting people all over the country to look to us as an example of what’s possible.
In recent years, we have launched success initiatives for all students and established intentional programs to support historically underserved populations—first-generation students, student veterans, and students of color.
What is most impressive about these programs is the tight-knit community they create. Trevor Vickery is an Army veteran who came to UT because of our dedicated support for veterans. He found a home here on Rocky Top and is now serving as a mentor in the Veterans Impact Program to help his fellow student veterans transition to college life.
Above all, this progress reflects the work our students are putting into their own futures. It’s also a testament to the creativity, compassion, and dedication of our faculty and staff behind these initiatives who are supporting our students every day.
We are seeing the highest persistence rates in our history, meaning students are not just coming to UT, but they are returning for their second, third, or fourth years.
Our dedication to student success—across our campus, within and outside our classrooms—is what will keep our enrollment strong and our students engaged. I am so proud of the progress we have made and look forward to what is ahead for our students.
Every November we recognize Veterans Day and First Gen Week. Two celebrations that lift up the contributions of so many Volunteers on our campus.
These students exemplify what it means to be a Volunteer. Their unique experiences make our campus community richer. Their success, just like the success of all of our students, is important to me and to people all over this university.
This year, we launched student success initiatives built to meet the specific needs of these students.
The Veterans Impact Program is helping them navigate the transition to college. The First Generation Initiative is creating opportunities and community. About 18% of our freshman class are first-generation students.
Across our campus and in our colleges, we are focusing on helping all of our students thrive and it is making a difference. I know you’ve heard about our record enrollment this year. It’s true more students than ever want to be Volunteers. But what you may not have heard is that roughly half of our growth has come from improving persistence rates, meaning more students are continuing on their path to graduation.
I am so proud of this. This success is first and foremost, a testament to our students.
I see you doing the work Vols. I see you studying in the Student Union and in the library. I see you on your way to class, I see you leveraging your strengths and seeking the resources you need to be successful. So thank you to our students for making this commitment.
Thank you to our faculty advisors, and other support staff who come to work every day focused on helping our students succeed.
As we head into the final weeks of the fall semester keep focused on the work ahead and finish strong. Thank you for all you do. Go Vols!