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Spring 2022 Welcome and Thank You


As we near the start of the spring semester on Monday, January 24, I want to thank you for your continued dedication to your many responsibilities—teaching, research, leadership, mentorship, committees, and much more—and for your care and compassion for each other and our students.

You are making a difference, and I know our students appreciate it deeply. When I talk to students, I often hear how grateful they are to be out and about on campus, to be learning in person with their fellow students, and to be able to connect with you and others every day. I hear that you are an enriching, calming, and reassuring presence in our students’ lives.

I ask that you again guide and support students as we continue our commitment to in-person learning this semester with COVID-19. We have the knowledge, and now thankfully the tools, to protect ourselves from severe illness. We no longer have a mask requirement, but there is plenty we can do to support health and wellness in our campus community.

  • Share with your students at the start of the semester our campus expectation that masks be worn in academic and administrative spaces while the omicron variant remains prevalent. Appeal to their Volunteer spirit and values and ask them to wear masks to keep the most vulnerable among us safe. Consider sharing personal reasons for your request.
  • Encourage students to get vaccinated and boosted and remind them that good health is integral to their academic success.
  • Urge your students to stay home when they are sick and to take advantage of the resources available through our COVID support team, which they can access through the COVID support form.

I believe that many students will follow your lead and your appeal, but I also ask that you respect students’ rights and ability to make their own decisions on COVID-19 safety measures.

You can find resources related to COVID-19 on the Office of the Provost’s webpage. The page includes information on requesting KN95 masks, how to manage temporary teaching arrangements due to illness, and more information.

In addition, Teaching and Learning Innovation has compiled tips and resources for helping students stay on track if they need to be absent and has several resources on COVID-19 teaching support.

View tips and resources from Teaching and Learning Innovation on helping students stay on track.

View more resources from Teaching and Learning Innovation on COVID-19 teaching support.

We have much to look forward to this semester. The Office of the Provost has dozens of workshops and networking opportunities for faculty, and campus will host the usual array of fascinating events, lecturers, and performances, all culminating with spring commencement ceremonies in May.

Thank you for providing your students that sense of community and connection that helps them feel that they matter and belong here. Thank you for all that you do to support student success and each other.

Go Vols!

John Zomchick
Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor