Welcome to the new academic year!
I hope that summer provided you some relief from the rigors of your work and that you return to campus refreshed and excited to begin the new year.
As students arrived on campus, they brought with them a contagious energy. It’s our privilege to channel that energy into our strategic vision — a world enriched by our ideas, improved through our action, and inspired by the Volunteer spirit of service and leadership. Our students are ready to be inspired by you and led by your example of serving a greater good.
Higher education means many things to our students: for some, it inspires them to tackle their generation’s grand challenges; for others, it prepares them to assume a productive role in their communities; for all, we hope, it opens the door to opportunities for personal growth and life-long friendship.
As Volunteers, we share the privilege of being part of an R1, flagship, land-grant university, with a distinct mission and the talent and resources to fulfill that mission. I am honored to be a part of this community and cannot wait to celebrate your contributions in the year ahead.
And what a year it promises to be! Enrollment is on track to set a record, topping out at over 33,000 students, with a first-year class of nearly 6,800 students. Our first-year retention rate is also expected to be at an all-time institutional high. Graduate and professional student enrollment is strong, very likely also a record. Thanks to the work of our talented and dedicated faculty and staff, we are drawing more students, keeping more of them here, and graduating them in record numbers.
We are, without doubt, a destination university for students across the country.
And it’s not only enrollment that we can be proud of. Your scholarly, research, and creative endeavors place us among the pre-eminent public research institutions. Our Humanities Center creates opportunities to explore historical cultural heritages and contemporary human problems. Our Clarence Brown Theatre entertains and edifies local audiences with their thrilling productions.
Our College of Nursing colleagues offer care and support for local children and families through their Vine School Health Center. Our science and engineering faculty collaborate with ORNL and each other to advance the frontiers of basic science and translate those advances into new products that make lives better.
And there are other exciting developments: The Tennessee RiverLine, UT-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute, an expanded Baker Center for Public Policy that will house the Institute for American Civics, our cluster-hiring initiative that generated inspiring creativity and collaboration, and a new cross-collegiate partnership with Cherokee Health Systems.
Not to mention our university creamery, which will open shortly, to the delight of all, jointly sponsored by Herbert College of Agriculture and the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences!
I promise to continue to listen, learn, and engage with you throughout the year in the service of our strategic goals and to forward the interests of all our stakeholders. This is a special place, made so by each of you.
Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor