Thank You for Your Extraordinary Work
As we wrap up the semester and head into the break, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your extraordinary work and to provide you some updates as we all prepare for 2023.
Everywhere I go, I talk about the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, as a university on the rise. More students are applying to come here, and more of our students are staying on track to graduation. Our research expenditures, donor gifts, and recognition of faculty scholarship and of academic and athletic programs are all up. Our Volunteer community is working hard, and working together, in support of our students. When we work together as Volunteers, this university will continue to reach new heights.
These outcomes reflect our commitment and dedication to our higher purpose—to educate our students, create and advance knowledge, and change people’s lives for the better. I cannot possibly count all the ways you make a difference, from the everyday moments when you encourage a student to the groundbreaking discoveries that can change the world.
I appreciate the growth we are seeing as recognition of the quality of our university and the experiences students have here. I also recognize that it comes with some growing pains. We continue to actively work on both short- and long-term space solutions.
Next week, we will admit our first students for fall 2023. Both in-state and out-of-state applications are up again this year. People want to be Volunteers, and we have a mission to help as many young people as possible—particularly those from Tennessee—transform their lives through higher education. Even so, to maintain our commitment to delivering on the Volunteer experience for our students, we will admit a smaller first-year class in the fall. With increasing retention and persistence rates, our overall enrollment will still increase.
Some have asked me Why should we grow? The answer is that growth in undergraduate students is the way we provide more access to more students to help meet the workforce needs of Tennessee. Growth in graduate students is one way we grow our research enterprise. Both are important to our future.
Residence Halls and Housing
Just this week, the State Building Commission approved our request to begin seeking a public–private partnership to build three more residence halls. In the meantime, we are exploring opportunities off campus to provide more affordable housing options for students in a high-demand housing market.
New Academic Buildings
A number of new academic building projects are under way and on the horizon. Many construction projects require people to be relocated, which is understandably disruptive. We will work though these disruptions collaboratively and support one another across colleges and offices. It’s who we are and aspire to be as Volunteers and part of a great university.
Projects in process and on the horizon include the following:
- Croley Nursing Building—construction in progress
- Energy and Environmental Science Research Building—construction in progress
- New Haslam College of Business building—planning stages for late 2023
- New Melrose Hall (for student-facing services, classroom space, and faculty collaboration space)— preplanning
- New chemistry building—preplanning
More information on upcoming construction and relocation efforts is available on the provost’s website. We will work to mitigate disruption and prioritize the location of academic units as much as possible and are working to communicate more specific relocation plans after the winter break for moves to occur in the next academic year.
These new capital projects are an exciting advancement, but in no way do they completely meet the needs we have on campus for renovated and new academic spaces. We are fortunate to receive generous support from the state and donors for most of these buildings.
I look forward to sharing information about other projects and improvements in January when we present the new campus master plan. New and updated projects proposed in the master plan will support all the important work that happens on our campus, including work being done in the humanities, arts, and social sciences.
I wish each of you a restful winter break, and I hope you share my excitement about the great things we will do together in 2023.