The end of spring semester is a special time. Walk across campus, and you’ll see happy, proud students in their caps and gowns, taking pictures by the Torchbearer, in front of Neyland Stadium, and on the university emblem on Ped Walkway.
It’s also a time for end-of-semester projects and presentations. I had the good fortune to attend presentations by our doctoral students in the Bredesen Center and observe them answer tough questions about their projects for creating a more sustainable energy economy.
I also enjoyed presentations by faculty fellows in our Research Development Academy, a collaboration between the Office of the Provost, Division of Diversity and Engagement, and Office of Research, Innovation, and Economic Development.
These moments, all in the last few weeks, are mere hints of the good work going on around campus among outstanding colleagues and students.
As I look back over spring semester, I find so much to celebrate. In April, we had the Exhibition of Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement (EURēCA). EURēCA included 997 individual students showing 654 projects. Their support included 233 faculty mentors, as well as the postdocs and graduate students helping to mentor undergraduates in their research groups.
The Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships reports that we have more than 150 faculty mentors of fellowship recipients and have 70 students receiving fellowships to date with more coming. Of note, we have 14 Fulbrights and three alternates—being sent to every continent except Antarctica—and the First Truman Scholar at UT since 1997.
Times Higher Education recently announced the 2022 Impact Ranking, which measures institutions’ commitment to UN Sustainable Development Goals. UT rose in overall world ranking from 201-300 in 2021 to 101-200 in 2022, and is in the top 15 among all US institutions.
UT faculty are leading 1,226 students on study abroad programs this year. We also have 26 students who have been awarded the U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, the most UT has had in a single award cycle.
These are just a few examples of the hundreds of ways you have made a difference this year. You have taught and mentored, provided service and leadership, and conducted groundbreaking research.
As we look ahead to next year, we are projecting another record-breaking class of first-year students, one more reflection of how you help make the University of Tennessee a destination for students in our state, across the country, and around the world.
Our Office of Online Learning and Academic Programs is growing as it leads our efforts to accelerate digital learning.
Teaching and Learning Innovation continues to offer a host of opportunities this summer to help faculty advance their teaching practices.
We will continue to make progress on the bold goals in our strategic vision with our $15 million investment to recruit faculty into several interdisciplinary clusters, our exploration of academic structures, and the implementation of a new budget model that will provide opportunity and incentive for faculty and college leaders to innovate and serve our region, state, and world.
Once again, I invite your full participation in these initiatives and look forward to hearing your perspectives, sharing ideas, and finding solutions that move our university forward.
Doug Blaze, who has served as interim dean of the College of Law for the last two years, will retire. We will welcome Lonnie T. Brown Jr., on July 1 as the next dean of the College of Law. We will also welcome about 15 new department heads. To our outgoing heads, thank you for your leadership and service. Theresa Lee, who has led the College of Arts and Sciences since 2012, has announced her intention to retire at the end of next academic year. I look forward to celebrating Dean Lee’s decade of outstanding service and leadership.
I am deeply grateful for all you have done this year. Time and again, year in and out, I have witnessed your dedication to our mission. I am humbled and grateful by the way that everyone has risen to the challenge of carrying on in the face of the pandemic. I hope you find some time this summer to rest and reflect, and I look forward to continuing to work with you. We have great things ahead of us as a campus community.
In the Volunteer spirit,
Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor