Chancellor Celebrates UT Successes on Inside Tennessee
Chancellor Donde Plowman appeared in October on WBIR’s local politics show Inside Tennessee, where she celebrated UT Knoxville’s growing momentum.
In the wide-ranging interview, hosts John Becker and John North asked the chancellor about record-breaking enrollment, research partnerships, and the university’s three new academic colleges and schools.
“This university is changing and becoming an even stronger university than it has been,” Plowman said. “I want people to feel good about that.”
Thanks to increased graduate enrollment and improved student success, UT hit another record for enrollment this fall at more than 36,000 students, even after intentionally reducing its class of first-year students. The university’s retention rate—an important indicator of graduation rates that measures how many first-year students return for their second year—hit a record 91 percent.
“We have incredible demand for what we are offering,” Plowman said. “Young people from all over the state and the country want to come here.”
In response to the growth and an increased desire from students to live on campus longer, the university has moved forward with a public–private partnership to build three new residence halls over the next three years, adding nearly 3,000 beds to campus housing.
The hosts asked the chancellor about developments in research, including her recent trip to Volkswagen headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, partnerships at the UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm, and a new curriculum around artificial intelligence led by Associate Vice Chancellor and AI Tennessee Director Lynne Parker.
The discussion also delved into the new colleges and schools that launched on July 1: the College of Music, the Baker School of Public Policy and Public Affairs, and the College of Emerging and Collaborative Studies. CECS represents an innovative new approach to addressing the state’s workforce needs.
“We have leaders who will be meeting with industry regularly to incubate new degree programs quickly,” Plowman said. “We have been giving degrees the same way for years—from just one college. What industry needs is someone with the skills from three or four different colleges, so we are putting together stackable modules for that quickly.”
Watch all three parts of the interview below.