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Note from the Provost

My first full semester on Rocky Top is quickly winding to a close, and it’s been both educational and enjoyable as I’ve gotten to know my fellow administrators, our faculty and staff, and our ever-amazing students.

We started the fall proudly boasting of successes: the largest freshman class in at least 30 years and a record high first-year retention rate (87 percent) and six-year graduation rate (72 percent).

After some intense listening and learning, I quickly set an initial list of priorities to build on the great work already in progress:

  • Increasing our six-year graduation rate
  • Growing our research profile
  • Ensuring student access
  • Enhancing diversity and inclusion
  • Increasing e-learning opportunities
  • Examining the budget model

Across campus, we’ve been having constructive conversations and work sessions around these priorities. We are already making progress, and I’m confident we’ll have plenty more to boast about in the future.

It’s been a busy fall, filled with many positive notes and some ongoing challenges.

We’ve seen more leadership changes—a new Board of Trustees and a new interim system president. Faculty and administration collaborated very effectively to craft a new post-tenure review policy. We joined in a national celebration of first-generation students and faculty. We watched the Volunteer family join together to raise $2 million in 24 hours through Big Orange Give.

Soon we’ll embark on a chancellor search. We’ll be welcoming new cabinet members and hiring new deans for the Tickle College of Engineering and the College of Social Work. At the same time, we’ll be working diligently to build the biggest and best class of new students to welcome in fall 2019.

We continue to seek ways to celebrate diversity and foster inclusiveness—to ensure that all faculty, staff, and students feel not just safe but valued on our campus.

So roll up your sleeves, Volunteers. Together, we’ve got important work to do.

David Manderscheid
Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor

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