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Dupper Named Interim Dean of Social Work

David Dupper

David Dupper

Professor David Dupper will become interim dean of the College of Social Work on August 16. He will succeed Karen Sowers who is retiring.

As interim dean, David will provide strategic leadership for the college’s faculty, staff, and students in the coming months while a national search is conducted to hire the college’s new dean.

David received his doctorate, master’s, and bachelor’s degrees in social work from Florida State University. He came to UT in 1998. He served as associate dean of the College of Social Work from 2001 to 2004 and served as director of the college’s BSSW program from 2013 to 2016.

Please join me in congratulating David for taking on this additional set of responsibilities.

John Zomchick
Interim Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor

Declaration Day Video

On Monday, May 1, UT’s Office of Enrollment Management hosted Declaration Day—a first-of-its-kind event celebrating the college confirmation deadline.

The hour-long program celebrated the campus and students who are choosing to come to UT in the fall.

Among those is Xavier Grace of Memphis.

The broadcast can be viewed in its entirety here.

Faculty Appreciation Week to Include Chancellor Farewell, Other Special Events

Faculty Appreciation Week graphic

Our annual celebration of faculty—Faculty Appreciation Week—will be held February 6–12 and will feature a full slate of special events, including a campus-wide farewell party for Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek.

All faculty, staff, and students are invited to a reception to thank Chancellor Cheek and wish him well as he joins the faculty of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences. The event will be held from 3:30 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, February 8, on the Tennessee Terrace of Neyland Stadium. (Enter at Gate 19 and go to the third floor.)

Visit the Faculty Appreciation Week website to read profiles spotlighting faculty from each college, leave a shout-out for a colleague, and find details of special events and offers.

Here is a full list of the planned events—note that several require an RSVP:

Monday, February 6

  • Faculty Appreciation Luncheon—11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Stokely Hospitality Suite (Room 501), Haslam Business Building. Enjoy lunch and a poster session while learning and networking with fellow faculty. Sponsored by the Teaching and Learning Center. Register by February 1.

Tuesday, February 7

  • Office of Research and Engagement Open House—1 to 3 p.m., Blount Hall. Meet the expert staff and learn more about how they assist faculty, staff, and students in meeting their research goals. Refreshments will be provided, and those who register here will receive a free gift.
  • Distinguished Faculty Reception, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., West Club of Neyland Stadium. By invitation.

Wednesday, February 8

  • Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek Farewell Party—3:30 to 6 p.m., Tennessee Terrace.
  • Men’s Basketball vs. Ole Miss—6:30 p.m. Faculty and staff can present their UT ID at the arena box office any time before the game for two complimentary tickets.
  • Outside Mullingar7:30 p.m., Clarence Brown Theatre mainstage. Faculty and staff can purchase $16 discount tickets by calling the theater box office (974-5161) between noon and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Thursday, February 9

  • Dig In: Unpacking the Curriculum with Cultural Objects—11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture’s Decorative Experience Gallery. Enjoy lunch and conversation as you explore the museum and see how its collections can help deepen students’ grasp of curriculum and encourage collaboration. Space is limited each day. Register by February 6.
  • Faculty Pub—4 to 7 p.m., West Club of Neyland Stadium. Cash bar with discounted drinks during the first hour. Free appetizers. Limited parking available after 5 p.m. in Staff Lot 9. Door prizes donated by VolShop. Please RSVP.
  • Lady Vols basketball vs. Missouri, 7 p.m. Faculty and staff can present their UT ID at the arena box office any time before the game for two complimentary game tickets.

Friday, February 10

  • “Dig In: Unpacking the Curriculum with Cultural Objects”— 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture’s Decorative Experience Gallery. See Thursday listing for details.


Spring News Roundup

A collection of sundry gatherings and other tidbits to pique your interest this spring.

Life of the Mind 2017

Station Eleven book coverStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel has been chosen as the 2017 Life of the Mind book.

A science fiction novel set during a swine flu pandemic, the book won the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the Toronto Book Award. It was nominated for the National Book Award and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.

The Office of First-Year Studies, which oversees Life of the Mind, encourages faculty and staff to read Station Eleven and propose programs or coursework that could tie in to the themes.

Faculty, staff, and graduate students interested in serving as discussion leaders for Life of the Mind sessions during Welcome Week should sign up here. Discussion leaders are asked to read the book and lead a small group of students in critical thinking discussions. Leaders attend a professional development workshop on the novel in preparation for the discussion sessions.

In addition, the Life of the Mind committee is already searching for the 2018 book. Suggested books should have appropriate themes (global scope, transition, and current events) and meet the program criteria (fewer than 350 pages, with a living author).

Please email Stella Bridgeman to suggest a book or inquire about the Life of the Mind program.

Faculty Pub

The first Faculty Pub of the spring will celebrate Faculty Appreciation Week. It will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, February 9, in the West Club of Neyland Stadium. There will be a cash bar with discounted drinks during the first hour and free appetizers. Door prizes have been donated by VolShop. Limited parking will be available after 5 p.m. in Staff Lot 9. RSVP here.

Other spring Faculty Pub dates are March 2 and April 6. All pubs will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursdays in the West Club of Neyland Stadium.


MicNite will be held March 9 at the Relix Variety Theatre, 1208 N. Central Street. Social hour will begin at 5:30 p.m. and presentations start at 6:30 p.m. There will be free pizza and a cash bar. RSVP here.


The second phase of Elements has launched, allowing faculty to record all their scholarly, teaching, and professional activities in the system. You can now add information about your creative activities—such as gallery shows, performances, or exhibits—and scholarship of engagement. You can also add activities such as student supervision, student advising, and participation in Experience Learning.

Elements will soon begin pulling grant information from Cayuse, the university’s system for tracking grants and contracts. A new “What Goes Where” guide is also being added.

By fall 2017, you will be required to use Elements for your annual performance and planning reviews as well as academic program reviews and strategic planning,

For more information about Elements, email Matthew Theriot, interim vice provost for faculty affairs and associate provost for teaching and learning innovation.

MyCampus survey

The MyCampus student experience survey is open until February 24. Students have received an email with information about the confidential survey, which includes questions on topics ranging from overall satisfaction with the university and free speech to intimidating conduct and sexual harassment.

Data gathered through this survey will help us identify issues and needs. Please encourage your students to participate.

Experience Learning Grants and Training Available

Experience Learning in the classroom

Architecture Professor Tricia Stuth’s fall 2016 class working on a Smart Communities Initiative project presents its work to officials in Lenoir City, Tennessee. SCI is part of Experience Learning.

Grants and training are now available for faculty and staff to redesign courses or sponsor co-curricular or extracurricular programming that advances our Experience Learning initiative.

Meanwhile, the first 16 courses are now being reviewed for Experience Learning designation in the fall 2017 course catalog.

Funding support

Faculty development grants are now available for faculty members who want to redesign courses to fit the guidelines and assessment processes of Experience Learning. Grants are also available to support qualifying faculty, staff, or student initiatives that provide co-curricular or extracurricular activities and projects.

More details about the grant programs can be found on the Experience Learning website. Grant application forms will be available on the website from February 1 to March 1.

Course designations

Applications were received last semester from faculty seeking Experience Learning designations for their courses that include research or service-learning activities.

Six courses are seeking an R (research) designation and include components such as field-based work and reflection. Ten courses have been submitted for an S (service-learning) designation and include elements that require community engagement and challenge students to solve real-world problems in the community.

Having received subcommittee approval, the course designations must now be approved by the full Curriculum Committee, the Undergraduate Council, and the Faculty Senate, following a review process similar to that of other general education courses. Once their course designations are approved, faculty teaching the courses will receive Experience Learning grants for implementation.

The next round of course designation applications will be due October 15.

A detailed explanation of the R designation and the course proposal form are available on the Office of Undergraduate Research website. A detailed explanation of the S designation and the course proposal form are available on the Office of Service-Learning website. Only existing courses may be submitted for review, and they must already have formal support at both the department and college level.

Proposals should be sent to Molly Sullivan, coordinator for curriculum and catalog, by email at

Training opportunities

Two training opportunities for faculty interested in applying for Experience Learning course designations are taking place this spring:

  • The Office of Service-Learning and the Teaching and Learning Center will co-sponsor a two-hour workshop on the S course designation. The workshop will be offered from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 8, and from 2:10 to 4:10 p.m. on Thursday, February 9, in the Fred Brown Residence Hall.
  • The Office of Undergraduate Research and the Teaching and Learning Center will co-sponsor a two-hour workshop on the R course designation from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 29, and from 9:40 to 11:40 a.m. on Thursday, March 30, in the Fred Brown Residence Hall.

For more information on these workshops, see the Teaching and Learning Center website.

Resource guides

To request a print or PDF copy of the Experience Learning resource guide, email Experience Learning Director Chris Lavan at


Help Move the Needle on Student Retention

Students at One Stop Student Services

We’ve made tremendous strides in our freshman-to-sophomore retention rate in recent years, but it’s going to take all of us working together to push past our current plateau.

We increased our retention rate from 84 percent in 2010 to 87 percent in 2015.

Our progress was fueled by a variety of efforts, including hiring additional coaches and advisors, creating One Stop, and enhancing the operations of our Student Success Center.

Our goal is to reach a retention rate of 90 percent by 2020; moving the needle now is going to take a grassroots effort.

Many faculty and staff already have made student success a personal priority. For example:

  • Malissa Peery photoMalissa Peery, a distinguished lecturer in the Department of Mathematics, uses innovative teaching methods to keep students engaged. She began flipping her Math 119 classes a couple of years ago. Her students watch her lecture on video and take notes before coming to class. In class, they work on group activities to gain a better grasp of the concepts. When Peery tested the flipped versus traditional class formats, the flipped approach proved best for student engagement and comprehension. Peery now mentors her teaching assistants on using this approach, and many Math 119 and 125 courses are flipped. In addition, Peery and her TAs use the Early Alert System, the campus’s outreach system, to find struggling students who need academic intervention. Peery makes sure all students have access to information about various tutoring options on campus. And when she encounters students who seem to have larger life problems, she connects them with those who can help.
  • Walker photoTeresa Walker, an associate dean and associate professor in UT Libraries, has served as a Life of the Mind discussion leader for several years. Each year, the program recruits faculty, staff, and graduate students to meet with small groups of freshmen during Welcome Week to talk about that year’s common reading selection. For many freshmen, it’s more than a book discussion—it’s their first college classroom experience, which means it’s both a responsibility and a privilege for the discussion leaders. “It shows new students that they have support and people on campus who want to see them succeed,” Walker said. “And it helps me recalibrate to a new group of students and how they think about the world.” That insight, she said, helps her to better serve students’ needs.

There are many things, big and small, that every faculty and staff member can do to help move the needle on retention. Here, from Associate Provost for Student Success Ruth Darling and others, are a few ideas:

  • Keep your eyes and ears open for struggling students. If you see that a student is struggling in class or showing signs of undue mental or physical stress, make sure they know about resources that can provide a lifeline. Help them connect with our campus resources and the many people trained to help. The Student Success Center website lists academic resources for students and for faculty and parents. The Center for Health Education and Wellness provides a list of health and safety resources on campus, in the community, and online.
  • Keep important numbers handy. Bookmark the links above or print out a list of the resources and keep it on your bulletin board or in your file cabinet.
  • Use the tools the university provides. Heed messages you receive via Early Alert. Encourage students to participate in MyCampus, the student experience survey now under way. Encourage students to complete the student evaluation for instruction each semester—and pay attention to what they are saying about your courses. Become familiar with GradesFirst, a communication system for advisors and faculty members, and uTrack, which provides an academic roadmap of the courses students need in order to graduate on time.
  • Ask the Student Success Center to provide a presentation for your office, unit, or department. Among the presentations they can do are “What is the SSC and how can they help me?” “What are the best ways to communicate with faculty?” “What are the most effective ways to study?” and “How do I effectively manage my time?” To request a presentation, fill out this online form. Need something else? Contact the Student Success Center at or 974-6641.
  • Take advantage of services offered by the Teaching and Learning Center. One of the best means of keeping students engaged is innovative teaching. The Teaching and Learning Center provides workshops and institutes, offers consultations, and provides grants that can help faculty modify courses, become more adept at using instructional technology, and enhance their teaching skills. View the center’s spring calendar and visit its website for more information.
  • Provide good customer service. Ever get a call or a request for help that’s meant for someone else? Ever see a student or parent who seems lost? Don’t hang up, blindly transfer the call, or walk away without helping. Provide directions—or, if you have time, walk them to their destination. Do your best to provide wayward callers with the name and contact number for the person who can help. You can find an A to Z campus index on the university website.

Commissions to Promote Diversity and Inclusion

I recently had an opportunity to listen and brainstorm with three key campus advisory groups—the Commission for Blacks, the Commission for Women, and the Commission for LGBT People.

Robert Nobles

Robert Nobles, associate vice chancellor for research and engagement and chair of the Commission for Blacks, was a driving force in making these meetings happen.

The vice provosts accompanied me, and our goals were to open channels of communication, hear concerns these groups might have, and discuss ways we might partner with them to address those concerns.

We hope these meetings signal the beginning of closer collaborations between the commissions and pave the way for them to play a larger role in helping Academic Affairs shape its strategic initiatives, especially in the areas of diversity and inclusion. In particular, we’d like these groups to help us recruit and retain diverse faculty and staff through involvement in employee orientation, faculty mentoring, and professional development programming, among other activities.

Robert Nobles, associate vice chancellor for research and engagement and chair of the Commission for Blacks, was a driving force in making these meetings happen. What started as an invitation to sit down with the Commission for Blacks quickly broadened to include conversations with the other two commissions.

Hilary Fouts

Hillary Fouts, an associate professor and administrator in the Department of Child and Family Studies, is chair of the Commission for Women.

Subsequently, we’ve held a series of lunches with black faculty. Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement Taylor Eighmy has co-sponsored these lunches. To date, Robert, Taylor, and I have met with approximately 42 faculty members at seven luncheons, where we explored how the Office of Research and Engagement and the Office of the Provost can assist faculty with professional development. We are planning similar luncheons with members of the other two commissions.

Some notes from our various meetings:

  • Nobles said the Commission for Blacks wants to play a larger role in engaging black students to facilitate better communication between students and administrators—something we would welcome.
  • Tamara Griffin, a coordinator in the Office of Disability Services and co-chair of the Commission for LGBT People, said commission members realize that some faculty, staff, and students don’t know the commission exists or what it does. We agreed that getting the commission involved in providing information for employee orientations could raise its visibility and help bridge that gap.
  • During our meeting with the Commission for Women—chaired by Hillary Fouts, associate professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Child and Family Studies—we talked about how we can increase the number of women at the full professor and department head ranks. We also talked about the importance of senior faculty mentoring junior faculty.

Our conversations with the commissions underscored what we all know—we are at our best when we work together to tackle problems and make improvements. As we move forward on our diversity and inclusion goals, I look forward to continuing the dialogue and working together.

General Education Revitalization Plan Proposed

Smiling student in class

In spring 2015 the Office of the Provost put together a task force and charged the group with revitalizing general education. Erin Hardin, director of undergraduate studies and associate head in the Department of Psychology, chairs the group.

“Our goal was to think about what general education is—or could be—at UT and then refresh or redesign the general education curriculum,” Hardin said.

The task force is putting the final touches on its report, which will be submitted to the Office of the Provost later this semester. Here, Hardin summarizes the group’s recommendations:

What’s the problem with general education now?

Students don’t understand its purpose or value. They perceive it as a checklist of requirements to get out of the way. Students think general education requirements are disconnected or irrelevant to their major rather than a foundation on which their major builds.

General education should answer the question “What does it mean to be a well-educated citizen?” It should provide the knowledge, awareness, and skills we want every UT student to have, regardless of their major or career goal.

We also think general education should address the Volunteer experience—what it is that makes a degree from UT unique and special.

What are the goals in revamping general education?

Our overarching goals are to enhance the quality of a degree from UT, increase excitement about what it means to be a Volunteer, and design a general education program that supports Vol Vision 2020.

We want to do a better job of connecting general education to students’ majors. We want general education to provide a foundation for students to be more successful and creative in their majors.

At the same time, we must ensure that our general education curriculum meets the requirements of our accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The general education curriculum also must comply with state-mandated articulation agreements, so students who complete their general education courses at other state higher education institutions are assured their credits will transfer here—and vice versa.

And we want to make improvements without increasing the size of general education or making it more cumbersome for students or faculty. We think this is doable because, in many cases, our proposed changes simply require some innovative approaches to structuring courses and presenting material.

What changes are you recommending?

At present, general education requirements are broken into two main categories: Building Basic Skills (written communications, oral communications, and quantitative reasoning) and Developing Broadened Perspectives (arts and humanities, cultures and civilizations, natural sciences, and social sciences).

Our proposal uses four categories to describe general education requirements: Ways of Communicating, Ways of Knowing, Global Citizenship, and Engaged Inquiries (applying knowledge, awareness, and skills).

We’re not suggesting a wholesale rewrite of general education but a few specific changes and some tweaking of other requirements:

  • For Ways of Communicating, students would still take three courses in written communications but would take two courses in oral communications instead of one. The second course—which would focus on communications skills specific to their discipline—could be fulfilled by a course in their major or another general education course with an applied communications component.
  • Students would still take courses in the arts and humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and quantitative reasoning disciplines (math, logic, and computation) as part of Ways of Knowing.
  • Our current cultures and civilizations requirement would be replaced with Global Citizenship. Two courses would still be required, but one would have a US focus and the other an international focus.
  • We are also proposing that students take several Engaged Inquiries courses that allow them to deepen and use what they’re learning—through, for example, service-learning, interdisciplinary work, hands-on or applied learning, or performances. These could overlay the Ways of Communicating, Ways of Knowing, and Global Citizenship requirements.

What about transfer students?

Because of Tennessee Promise, which offers last-dollar scholarships for in-state students to attend community colleges, our campus may be looking at a growing population of transfer students in coming years. Transfer students often come to UT with some of their general education requirements already completed, which means our efforts to redesign and reinvigorate general education will have a limited effect on them.

To ensure that transfer students also benefit from the Volunteer experience, we propose that all students, including transfer students, have a new degree requirement outside of general education. All students would be required to complete a Contemporary Issues and Solutions course or project. Although we’re still working out the details, we envision that this requirement would align with our Experience Learning initiative and could take a variety of forms: a capstone course in their major; a course that fulfills the Arts and Sciences global challenges requirement; or an internship, experiential, or service-learning course.

How has campus feedback played a role developing these suggestions?

In April 2016, our task force invited the campus community to attend roundtable discussions. Faculty, staff, and students from every academic unit participated. They made it clear that our campus community values the traditional liberal arts perspective that our general education program delivers, and they gave us great input for developing our plan.

We’re enthused about how this new general education curriculum will energize our campus.

As faculty members, we teach because we love learning and discovery—and we think this new vision of general education will increase our opportunities to share that love of learning and discovery with our students.

What are the next steps?

Once the report is completed and submitted, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs R. J. Hinde will present the new general education framework to the Undergraduate Council for its approval, which should happen sometime this spring.

Also this spring, a new task force will be formed to flesh out and help implement the changes.

Departments must review courses and revise them as necessary, or even develop new courses. Colleges and programs must look at every major and tweak requirements accordingly. Catalogs must be revised.

Our goal is to implement the new general education curriculum in fall 2020.

Where can I get more info?

You can find more information about the task force’s work, as well as its complete membership, on this website.

Enrollment Management Busy Building Fall Class

UT acceptance card

Prospective students get a musical “Welcome to Rocky Top” card when they are invited to attend UT.

Having received more than 17,890 applications so far, Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Kari Alldredge and her team are preparing to welcome another large and high-achieving new class of Volunteers.

Although deadlines for scholarships have passed, we will continue to accept and evaluate applications for the incoming fall 2017 class.

Enrollment Management uses holistic review—looking at academic preparation but also other aspects of a student’s life and resume—as it continues to invite applicants to enroll.

“In addition to a variety of holistic factors, we also consider things like legacy and student support systems on campus,” Alldredge said. “We love students who are the children of faculty and staff because we know they will have added support systems on campus.”

To ensure we get the state’s best and brightest, we have teams of recruiters in Memphis, Nashville, and here in Knoxville. We also have regional recruiters seeking future Vols in 10 locales around the country—Washington, DC; Chicago; Cincinnati; Charlotte, NC; Atlanta; California; Florida; two locations in Texas; and the New York–New Jersey–Pennsylvania area.

Transfer students

The first students to take advantage of the Tennessee Promise are now completing their community college studies and looking at transfer options for the fall. Realizing the opportunity to recruit these students, we’ve been trying to improve our services and programs for transfer students.

We now have a website specifically for transfer students that includes information about campus resources and how transfer students can meet other transfer students. We’ve created transfer pathways and plans and we’ve added more transfer admissions representatives across the state. The website includes an equivalency table for courses from schools all over the country. Later this spring we’ll begin using Hyland OnBase software to streamline the evaluation of courses for transfer credit.

Volunteer Bridge

Our goal is to enroll 200 students in Volunteer Bridge this fall. That would be the program’s largest class ever.

Volunteer Bridge is an invitation-only program that allows students to complete their freshman year at Pellissippi State Community College and transfer seamlessly to UT for their sophomore year. The program is designed for students who would benefit from the combined academic support and opportunities of UT and Pellissippi.

Students enrolled in the program are invited to live in Clement Hall as part of the Volunteer Bridge Living and Learning Community. They have both UT and Pellissippi student IDs and can access most facilities and activities on both campuses.

Innovative approaches

One of the reasons that Alldredge and her team have been so successful in recruiting strong freshman classes is that they’ve used innovative outreach efforts to engage prospects and welcome new students into the Volunteer family.

Over the winter break, Enrollment Management hosted an event in Nashville before the Music City Bowl. Prospective students, current students, and alumni were invited to the event, which featured remarks by alum (and father of a recent UT graduate) Mike Keith, known as the voice of the Tennessee Titans, and Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek.

Prospective and new students also get to network with the Volunteer family at events like New Vol Roll Call and Volunteering with the Vols.

Along the way, students receive special messages to mark the big moments in their admissions journey. They receive a musical “Welcome to Rocky Top” card when they are invited to attend UT. And, starting this year, students who enroll will receive a UT flag.

New Student Experience Survey Launched Yesterday

Creating and maintaining a campus environment where all University of Tennessee students can thrive is among our most important goals. Yesterday we launched a new survey designed to measure student experiences and perceptions, and I’d like to ask for your help encouraging participation. The survey will stay open until February 24.

All undergraduate and graduate students received an email invitation yesterday to take the confidential survey. Topics include experiences and perceptions of campus environment, community, culture, and safety.

Please consider mentioning the survey in your classes, on your resource pages, and in your advising sessions. Higher response rates give the university a better understanding of student opinions, and I hope I can count on your support.

Participation is entirely voluntary, and students can skip questions and exit the survey at any time. As you know, we cannot require or incentivize their participation.

Learn more about the survey.

Below are some suggested points you can use when speaking to students about the survey:

  • UT is launching its first student experience survey January 24–February 24 to learn about students’ experiences and perceptions of campus climate, community, culture, and safety. I encourage you to take the survey by visiting 
  • All undergraduate and graduate students are invited to share feedback.
  • Participation is voluntary and feedback is confidential. You are encouraged to respond honestly and can skip questions and exit the survey at any time. 
  • The survey takes about 15 minutes to complete.
  • Enter-to-win prizes are available, such as $500 Visa gift cards, $25 Amazon gift cards, and $100 VolShop gift cards.
  • Survey results will be shared during the fall 2017 semester. 

Please contact me with any questions. Thank you in advance for your help.


John Zomchick
Interim Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.