As we start the fall semester, I invite you to join me and your faculty colleagues to share food, fellowship, and thoughtful conversation about the beginning of the new academic year.
We have a lot to discuss. Challenges remain with COVID-19. We have vaccines now that were only a distant hope last fall, and we have taken additional precautions with masks in classrooms and laboratories. And yet even with these advances and precautions, I know concerns remain as we navigate this latest wave.
We have a lot to celebrate. We are welcoming what appears to be a record number of students, with a first-year class 8 percent larger than last year’s and total enrollment projected at 31,500.
I have talked to many of our students over the last few days. As you can imagine, they have been through a lot. In a year when many universities have lost students, we have grown because our students believe being a Volunteer offers them a college experience that will be special and will prepare them for life. They are excited to be here and to learn from you.
I am excited, too. You all do so much for each and every student, and I greatly appreciate your contributions to this university. Next week, we will host our first Faculty Pub of the semester from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, August 26, outdoors in Circle Park. The focus will be faculty appreciation, and I cannot think of a better theme.
We will have free appetizers, a cash bar, and fun activities, but most importantly, we will have an opportunity to talk about important topics, share ideas, and connect with one another.
I look forward to seeing you, to listening to your ideas, and to working with you in the new academic year.
Provost & Senior Vice Chancellor