I write to you today, just under a week before our students begin the move back to campus.
During these times, which have been devastating for so many of our fellow citizens, including our colleagues in higher education across the country, we can count ourselves fortunate. As of today, our student numbers are remarkably strong. We are on track to attain two new records: our highest first-to-second-year retention rate and our largest first-time full-time and transfer student cohorts in memory.
Our good fortune in bad times is a reason to be grateful. In my mind, however, the most compelling reason to be grateful is found in the dedication of our Volunteer family. If you watched the video about preparing our classrooms for the coming semester, you have seen pictures of our facilities colleagues hard at work on site getting us ready for fall. What is unseen, so far, is the labor of faculty and other staff—in workshops, online, in Zoom meetings—all aimed at bringing opportunities for learning to the students who will soon once again be on Ped Walkway, in Hodges Library, and in our classroom buildings. So much work goes on behind the scenes, unnoticed and uncelebrated, that I want to take this moment to celebrate the work and celebrate all of you.
I also want to acknowledge the uncertainty that remains as move-in approaches. We continue to monitor closely all developments related to health and safety. You have our pledge that we will be vigilant in protecting the well-being of our Volunteer family and that we will keep you informed about developments as the semester unfolds.
Keep this pledge in mind. Let it help you begin fall 2020 with confidence and commitment to your work. As Volunteers, we are for and with one another in dedication to our mission.
Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor