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Mark Your Calendar!

Here’s a list of spring semester opportunities to celebrate, network, and learn.


Faculty Appreciation Week Is February 12–16

Our annual celebration of faculty is scheduled for February 12–16.

Watch Tennessee Today for special events, discounts, and stories about faculty from each college. At least two events require an RSVP.


Forum on the Rock and Free Speech Set for February 26

The Student Government Association is planning a panel discussion about the Rock, tentatively scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday, February 26.

The panel, which is still being assembled, will discuss issues surrounding the Rock, including free speech and hate speech.


Faculty Pubs

Faculty are invited to network with colleagues at three remaining Faculty Pub events scheduled this semester.

Pubs will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. in the Lauricella Center of Neyland Stadium on Thursday, February 15; Thursday, March 29; and Wednesday, April 25.

Each pub will feature free appetizers and a cash-only bar.

For easiest access, enter the stadium at Gate 21A. Limited parking will be available for vehicles with a UT parking tag in Lot 9 on Phillip Fulmer Way beginning at 5 p.m.

All faculty, including tenure-track, non-tenure-track, and retired, are invited to attend the pubs.


Coffee and Conversation

All faculty are invited to join Interim Provost John Zomchick and the vice provosts for coffee and conversation about timely matters and issues of concern.

The get-togethers will be held in the Mary Greer Room, Room 258 of Hodges Library (located across from the circulation desk near Starbucks). They will take place from 8 to 9 a.m. on Tuesday, February 6, and Friday, March 2, and from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Monday, April 9.

Coffee and light refreshments will be provided.


Mic/Nite

UT faculty members will share their knowledge on a wide range of subjects at this spring’s Mic/Nite on Thursday, March 8, at the Relix Variety Theatre, 1208 North Central Avenue. Social hour begins at 5:30 p.m. with free pizza and a cash bar, and presentations begin at 6:30 p.m.

Mic/Nite is a Powered by PechaKucha social gathering designed to enhance the intellectual, interdisciplinary, and cultural life of UT faculty and staff. PechaKucha is a fast-paced lecture format that originated in Tokyo. Since 2003, it has spread to more than 400 cities around the world.

The event is free and open to faculty and staff and their spouses or partners. RSVP here.

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Spring 2018 News Roundup

Teaching and Learning Innovation Merges Offices

Starting this semester, Teaching and Learning Innovation, a unit within the Division of Academic Affairs, officially merges four offices—Experience Learning, the Teaching and Learning Center, the Office of Service-Learning, and the Office of Online Programs.

The merger brings all these efforts under one umbrella to provide more services, programs, and partnerships to better support UT faculty in enriching student learning experiences.

“It allows us to break down some of the silos; it’s more about what we do and less about organizational charts,” said Matthew Theriot, interim vice provost for faculty affairs and associate provost for teaching and learning innovation, who will oversee the unit. “The goal is to serve the campus more effectively and to position the university to build e-learning capacity.

Teaching and Learning Innovation’s priority areas will include Experience Learning; service-learning; online programs; the UT Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL); tools for assessment, and inclusive teaching practices.

Chris Lavan heads up Experience Learning, which encompasses service-learning as well as related teaching innovation efforts. Jennifer Gramling directs e-learning efforts.

See the TLI website for more information for more information about the unit’s services, priorities, and future opportunities for UT instructors.

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Open Educational Resources

The Student Government Association, led by President Morgan Hartgrove, has embarked on a campaign to save students $1 million this year by encouraging instructors to use open educational resources that can be accessed free online.

UT Libraries has teamed up with SGA to measure savings and gather student feedback on using open educational resources.

Some of the results have been posted, including a running list of instructors who report using open education resources and a cost comparison of the various types of classroom textbook resources.

“So far we have saved students about $700,000 of our $1 million goal. We honored four professors for choosing open education resources and we are looking forward to a larger recognition ceremony in the spring,” Hartgrove said. “When professors choose open education resources over textbooks, it shows that they have gone out of the way to ensure their classes are affordable and accessible to more students. We can’t wait to reach our $1 million goal, and we can only do that if more professors are willing to make a switch.”

More information is available on the UT Libraries website.

Orange Divider LineQuiet Space for Writing

The UT Humanities Center writeNOW program is open to all UT faculty looking for a quiet space to work on writing projects.

Each Friday from 8:30 a.m. to noon, faculty members who wish to devote time to their writing in an atmosphere of scholarly silence will have the opportunity to compose or read in the second-floor seminar room of the UT Humanities Center. No advance reservation is required. Learn more at the Humanities Center website.

Graduate students in research lab

Monetary Awards Support Graduate Education

As we seek to increase the number of supported graduate students and improve graduate education, the Graduate School has forged an exciting partnership with the Office of Research and Engagement to provide 20 four-year graduate research assistant positions.

This partnership will fund the FY 2019 iteration of our Tennessee Fellowship for Graduate Excellence (TFGE), the signature graduate fellowship program launched last year to help us recruit some of the nation’s best and brightest students.

Through this program, ORE will supply a graduate tuition waiver and the Graduate School will provide a fellowship of $10,000 a year to each awardee. The award is given in addition to the graduate stipend covered by the departments or colleges, creating a total package that is highly competitive. Read details of the program on the Graduate School website.

Applications were due January 17 and are now being evaluated. Departments were notified of the success of their applications on January 29 and offers made to graduate students on February 1. Nominees have until April 15 to accept their award offers.

Applicants not chosen for the TFGE will automatically be considered for one of the endowed graduate school fellowships. Those decisions are made in early March—still early enough to attract most students.

Building a strong graduate program requires money, and in recent years we’ve made significant strides in creating funding programs that help us recruit and support graduate students. Investments in graduate education include the following:

  • The Graduate School offers about $4.5 million in graduate fellowships each year, benefiting nearly 800 students.
  • Each year more than 1,600 graduate students collectively receive about $16 million in tuition waivers and $23 million in stipends.
  • Starting last year, the Graduate School began earmarking approximately $100,000 to help fund research projects in which a faculty member and a graduate student serve as co-principal investigators. Applications are reviewed each spring and fall semesters.
  • The provost’s office provides $200,000 annually for graduate students to travel to conduct or present research. This funding has benefited almost 400 students in 2017–18.

GPSAW Coming in April

Our fourth annual Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week will be celebrated April 2–6. The Three-Minute Thesis competition will take place Friday, April 6, and semifinals will be held in late February and early March.

Students in Sydney, Australia

Experience Learning Marks Its Progress

Course designations. Grants for faculty, staff, and students. Resources to help faculty incorporate experiential learning into their courses. These are just a few of the ways Experience Learning is transforming the way we teach and the way our students learn.

Experience Learning was developed as our Quality Enhancement Program—part of our 2015 reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges—and it has already started reshaping instructional practices on our campus.

The Experience Learning team has released an annual report for 2016–17 outlining specific aspects of that progress, including these highlights:

  • The Experience Learning course designation system was piloted during the 2016–17 academic year. Ten courses received the service-learning (S) designation and six received the research (R) designation. Additional courses are being reviewed now for both designations.
  • The internship (N) designation was approved in fall 2017. Applications were submitted and are being vetted now.
  • Thirty-six grants were awarded to faculty and staff to support experiential learning endeavors, including a four-week summer institute for faculty members to provide holistic support for redesigning courses to include experiential learning activities for students.
  • Several resources have been created, including the Experience Learning Resource Guide, the Experience Learning Risk Management Handbook, faculty assessment guides, tools for assessment, and the Service-Learning Course Design Guide.

Videos Show Experience Learning at Work

You can see how Experience Learning brings classroom lessons to life in three new short videos.

One chronicles College of Communication and Information students involved in a Programs Abroad experience in Sydney, Australia; a second follows a student during an internship at Scripps Networks Interactive; and the third takes you to the Great Smoky Mountains with students during an alternative break trip.

Look for additional videos coming this semester.

 

Architecture and Design faculty

Faculty Mentoring Program Launches

Starting this spring, small groups of faculty will begin meeting as part of our new Faculty Mentoring Program.

Created in collaboration with the Commission for Blacks, Commission for LGBT People, and Commission for Women, the Faculty Mentoring Program is intended to foster a sense of community and support for tenure-line faculty, especially those from historically underrepresented groups—those who self-identify as people of color, women, or LGBTQ individuals.

“Faculty of different backgrounds often have different needs and face different challenges in their life and work. This is especially true of new or young faculty members,” said Matthew Theriot, interim vice provost for faculty affairs and associate provost for teaching and learning innovation. “We do a pretty good job of orienting new faculty to campus, but not such a good job of helping them get to know the community or build networks with colleagues.”

About 40 faculty members have signed up so far.

Lisa Yamagata-Lynch

Yamagata-Lynch

Lisa Yamagata-Lynch, professor of educational psychology and counseling, is one of them.

“This first semester is likely to be a learning experience for all of us,” she said. “And it will help identify a core group of faculty interested in university-wide mentoring so we can work together to further develop the program.”

Participants will be divided into small groups composed of different ranks and disciplines but with similar backgrounds and interests. The provost’s office will provide nominal funding so groups can meet periodically over a meal.

Yamagata-Lynch said she’s eager to share some of what she learned about juggling the demands of service and research as she went through the promotion process.

She also wants to make herself visible in hopes that it will inspire other faculty from historically underrepresented groups.

“At many universities in the United States, there is a shortage of women faculty who are full professors, especially when it comes to women of color,” she said.

If this spring’s programs go well, we’ll expand them in the fall.

Professional Development for Associate Professors

We are also planning a series of professional development events for associate professors to help them earn promotion to professor. Topics may include self-advocacy, work-life balance, the organization of UT, and available resources for faculty at UT.

For more information about these efforts, contact Theriot at 865-974-6152 or mtheriot@utk.edu.

Data science

Update: Cluster Hires and Grand Challenges

Last semester we began establishing transdisciplinary research clusters that will enhance the university’s reputation for research excellence and address challenges facing the state of Tennessee and society at large.

This effort—championed by Chancellor Beverly Davenport and coordinated by Interim Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement Robert Nobles and me—echoes a nationwide movement through which universities are using their intellectual capital and research infrastructure to address 21st-century grand challenges.

This past fall, we announced that our first cluster hire would be in the area of data sciences. We’re now calling for proposals for two additional clusters.

Update on Data Sciences Cluster Hire

The Data Science Task Force received eight pre-proposals for the first cluster hire and selected six to be presented to our partners at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After several discussions with ORNL and a meeting with the principal investigators of the six selected pre-proposals, it became apparent that further discussions between the campus and ORNL are necessary before moving forward with the data sciences initiative. We anticipate that those discussions will begin within the next week, and we will keep the campus updated on their progress.

Proposals Sought for Two Additional Clusters

We are now soliciting proposals for two additional research clusters. There are no restrictions with regard to focus areas for these clusters, and all those who submitted to the data sciences cluster are invited to resubmit their proposals to this open call.

Proposals are due by 5 p.m. on March 21.

View the RFP and use the proposal form provided here.

A review committee of faculty recommended by the college deans and the Office of Research and Engagement will review the proposals and make recommendations. We hope to notify the applicants whose proposals have been approved no later than May 1.

If you have questions about the proposal process, email us at AVCRD@utk.edu using the subject line “Question on Open Topic Cluster Hire Pre-Proposal.”

More information about our cluster hire and grand challenge initiatives

Student hands at computer

Students Help Devise New Retention Strategy

Thanks to the great research of three Haslam College of Business student interns, we’ve found a segment of at-risk first-time freshmen who were previously falling through the cracks—and we’re implementing strategies to intervene more quickly to help them get academic assistance to boost their chances of staying at UT and completing their degrees.

Last year, the Office of the Provost enlisted the help of three business analytics interns—undergraduates Bryce Curtsinger and Tanner Martin, who both graduated in May, and graduate student Brady Gail.

The students reviewed three years’ worth of student success data. They found that student retention odds start to slip earlier than we had thought: a student is at increased risk of dropping out after failing to complete even one course.

Specifically, our interns confirmed something that Assistant Provost and Director of Institutional Research and Assessment Denise Gardner suspected from looking at preliminary numbers: students who fail to earn class credit because they take NCs (no credit) and Ws (course withdrawal) in challenging courses are at a higher risk of leaving the university before completing their degrees.

While it sounds like something that should have been easy to figure out, it wasn’t. Here’s why: Until now, we’ve primarily used GPA to pinpoint at-risk students. That method of filtering for struggling students is flawed because Ws (four of which are allowed during a student’s time at UT) and NCs (unlimited) do not factor into the GPA. Consequently, a student could fail to earn credit for numerous courses and still appear to be doing well.

Compounding this problem, students in some of our gateway foundational courses—including courses in English, math, and foreign languages—automatically get an NC if they don’t achieve an A, B, or C. Lower grades are not given in those courses; students who get an NC and want credit for the course must retake the course until they earn a C or better.

Students who fail to get credit in one of these gateway courses could be destined for failure unless they get some academic assistance.

On a more positive note, the interns found that students who flounder during their first semester tend to persevere if they’re able to rebound academically in their second semester. This finding reinforces the importance of earlier intervention.

Based on what we’ve learned, we’ve already started to take action:

  • We’re sharing the findings with our student success team and advisors so they can get to these students faster and offer some form of remediation. This effort is already under way.
  • Starting this spring, we’ve revised our system of warning students who are failing to make satisfactory academic progress. Federal, state, and university regulations require that a student make satisfactory academic progress toward their degree—that is, that they maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 and successfully complete 67 percent of their total attempted hours—to retain their financial aid. In the past, we checked students’ SAP at the end of each year. We’re now checking each semester and alerting students who are in danger.
  • We’re continuing to study our current system of awarding NCs and Ws to see what we might change to improve student retention.
  • We’re enlisting the help of two more interns this spring—Derek Shambo, a grad student in business analytics, and Karson Stone, a graduate student in industrial engineering—to help us identify other segments of at-risk students and develop strategies for connecting them with resources to promote student success.
Students at class change

Retention, Recruitment Efforts Key to Enrollment Growth

Although there is still much work to do before our strategic enrollment plan is complete, we have set some significant goals for growth in our undergraduate population.

Over the next five years, we’d like to see our overall undergraduate enrollment grow by 15 percent. We’ve been growing 1 to 2 percent year over year; to meet our goal we’ll have to grow by 3 percent each year.

While we’re planning for nominal increases in the size of our freshman class, gains in retention will be critical in helping us achieve our growth goals.

Our first-year retention rate in fall 2017 was 85.5 percent. Our goal for fall 2018 is 88 percent. And we want to see our retention rate hit 92 percent by 2022.

Faculty Play a Key Role

To reach our enrollment and retention goals, we must have the help of faculty, whose daily contact with students makes them the front line for identifying those who are struggling.

First-Year Studies, which manages Early Alert, has encouraged faculty to be more diligent about responding to the system’s prompts to identify struggling students. We have been pleased with the response: 89 percent of faculty who received requests responded this past fall. That’s up from the previous high response rate of 50 percent.

“In addition to higher responses for Early Alert courses, we’ve also had an increase in instructors reporting from non-alert courses,” said Stella Bridgeman-Prince, assistant director of First-Year Studies. “This shows us that faculty see the value of the Early Alert program in keeping us more closely attuned to student need.”

Through these Early Alert reports, we reached out to 663 students and offered them various forms of assistance. We’ve also collaborated with Residence Life staff to reach out to students living in residence halls who are flagged by the Early Alert system.

When spring semester began, college deans sent emails to all students, customized to reflect their fall performance. The messages explained that the Student Success Center’s academic coaches can help students at all levels develop time management strategies, engage effectively with course material, and maximize support opportunities at UT.

Since financial issues force some students to drop out, we’ve set aside funding to help. Last fall, staff in student life, academic advising, student success, and enrollment management were encouraged to submit referrals to One Stop if they encountered students experiencing financial difficulty.

In addition, emails were sent to students who had financial holds on their accounts. The emails allowed students to respond and explain their needs.

Responses were reviewed by a cross-divisional committee to determine each student’s eligibility for additional funds. Students who receive funding will work with both an academic advisor and a financial aid counselor to plan for future semesters.

Student Success Summit

In December, about 90 faculty, staff, and students participated in the Student Success Summit, hosted by the Divisions of Academic Affairs and Student Life.

We agreed that every campus process—from new student orientation to financial aid to registration to health services, and everything in between—should be examined from the student perspective to ensure that students who need assistance can quickly find and receive top-level care from our university faculty and staff.

To make sure this happens, we’ll be taking some steps in the next few months:

  • Assembling working groups of faculty, staff, and students to evaluate how to improve current student services and identify new services we should provide
  • Improving how we communicate with students and employees about resources available to students who need support or are considering leaving UT
  • Evaluating a case management system to ensure consistent follow-through for every student who needs assistance

Building Next Year’s Freshman Class

Even as we are striving to retain our current students, we are hard at work recruiting our future Vols. Applications for next year’s freshman class have already exceeded the number received last year.

Assistant Vice Provost for Enrollment and Director of Undergraduate Admissions Fabrizio D’Aloisio said the number of Tennessee high school graduates is relatively flat, so in-state growth will continue to be a challenge. We’re seeing good growth in out-of-state numbers, which he attributes to several years of hard work by our regional recruiters stationed around the country.

In addition, Undergraduate Admissions is leveraging new technology and new data sources to identify and recruit students.

There’s also an impressive uptick in the number of students coming for campus visits. Last year, almost 35,000 students took a formal campus tour, an increase of 12 percent from 2016. This increase demonstrates that more students are considering attending UT and adding us to their college short list.

We’ve also been more aggressive in offering scholarships. In addition to our competitive scholarships, the Volunteer Scholarship guarantees monies for students with ACT scores of 28 or above.

Finally, we continue to grow our Volunteer Bridge program. This year, we brought in a record 206 students. Our goal is to have 250 students next year, and we’ve already sent out about 100 early invitations. Our five-year plan calls for the Volunteer Bridge program to grow well beyond 250 students a year.

 Our efforts reflect the realization that the landscape for recruiting students has changed dramatically over the past few years.

“Even though we’re doing great, the competition is fierce,” D’Aloisio said. “The demographics are changing. There are fewer college-bound students out there, and colleges are becoming more sophisticated in how they recruit.”

Cluster Hires and Grand Challenges

Idea generators. Problem solvers. Leaders.

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These traits have long been facets of the Volunteer difference, and this fall we’re launching a new effort to capitalize on our strengths while helping our community, state, and nation.

We’re planning to make a series of cluster hires that will allow us to build upon our existing and emerging expertise in order to make a real difference in people’s lives. We’ll be looking for help from you as we embark upon this process.

We are fortunate to have a longstanding partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory that brings together great minds and superior technology. Our collective work solves problems, cures illness, devises better transportation solutions and manufacturing methods, and discovers more sustainable and efficient energy sources, among many other advancements.

In collaboration with ORNL, we will make our first cluster hire in data sciences, an area that touches almost every discipline in some way.

Interim Vice Chancellor for Research Robert Nobles and I have appointed a task force to study our campus’s existing strengths in data sciences, identify areas where new experts and accelerated research will have greatest impact, and review proposals for the data cluster.

The task force’s recommendations and review of proposals will guide us in hiring six new faculty members to be part of an interdisciplinary data sciences team. The task force will begin reviewing proposals on December 11.

At the same time, we want to enlist your help to identify areas where the university is best positioned to contribute to the common good or help to solve “grand challenges.” Please complete this survey by noon November 6 to share your ideas. The survey should take approximately 10 minutes to complete.

We’ve also scheduled two town hall sessions where you can learn more about this initiative and contribute to campus-wide discussions about the cluster initiative. Sessions will be held at 2 p.m. on November 2 in the Scripps Convergence Lab on the fourth floor of the Communications Building and at 10 a.m. on November 3 in Room A004 of Blount Hall.

I want to assure you that this new initiative will constitute only one aspect of a diverse strategy for hiring faculty to fulfill our mission as the state’s public flagship research and land-grant institution. We need your help to identify and build upon our strengths.


Cluster hires

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A cluster hire is the addition of faculty with a specific area of expertise in order to develop excellence and build bridges between departments, schools, and colleges.

New cluster faculty strengthen existing research areas and, in some cases, develop new areas. They are change makers—established or emerging experts who can partner with our existing researchers to attract significant external research funding and bolster the university’s reputation as a leader in a specific area.

For example, the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS), which is based on our campus, is a type of faculty cluster. NIMBioS involves an interdisciplinary set of faculty researchers whose groundbreaking work at the intersection of mathematics and biology sheds new light on biological quandaries—from plant diseases that threaten global food security to the reasons people are willing to fight and die for others. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the center has raised UT’s international research profile through the extraordinary work of our existing faculty and students as well as faculty, students, and other researchers from universities and organizations around the world.

In building our first cluster, we’ll partner with ORNL and focus on a core shared strength. Home to one of the world’s fastest computers, ORNL is a leader in data-driven research. We also have many different types of data experts on our campus, from big data and data analytics experts in the Haslam College of Business and the Tickle College of Engineering to our highly ranked School of Information Sciences, among other areas.

With recommendations from the task force, we will review our existing data science work to determine where we should add expertise to form an interdisciplinary team.

Our goal is to hire six new faculty members for our data sciences cluster. To do this, we’ll use a combination of new and existing resources, including reassigning existing vacant faculty lines.


Task Force

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Our newly formed task force is charged with doing the initial heavy lifting—studying the data science work being done campus-wide and at ORNL to determine what expertise is needed to round out a team to address pressing issues of the day.

The task force is composed of faculty members and ORNL experts from a wide variety of fields who have a strong track record of externally funded interdisciplinary research. Chaired by Bruce LaMattina, associate vice chancellor for research development, the task force includes:

  • Suzie Allard, associate dean for research in the College of Communication and Information; professor of information science; director of the Center for Information and Communication Studies
  • Louis Gross, Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Mathematics; NIMBioS director; director of the Institute for Environmental Modeling
  • Matt Murray, Ball Corporation Professor of Business; director of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy; associate director of the Boyd Center for Business And Economic Research
  • Lynne Parker, associate dean for faculty affairs and engagement in the Tickle College of Engineering; professor of electrical engineering and computer science
  • Clayton Webster, UT-ORNL Distinguished Scientist; professor of mathematics; ORNL department head of computational and applied mathematics
  • David White, associate dean for research and associate director of the Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Station (AgResearch); professor of food science
  • Sean Willems, Haslam Chair in Supply Chain Analytics; professor of business analytics and statistics.
  • Russell Zaretzki, Joe Johnson Faculty Research Fellow; Heath Faculty Fellow; George and Margaret Melton Scholar in Business Analytics; associate professor of business analytics and statistics; director of the UT-ORNL data science and engineering doctoral program

Grand Challenges

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Moving forward, we want to pinpoint a handful of “grand challenges” where we can make a real and lasting impact.

We want to think big and in broad terms by considering issues such as the opioid crisis, urban futures, water resources, national security, health disparities, terrorism, education, etc.

There are many options, but we have to be strategic about where to focus our efforts. We want to build on our existing strengths to develop a research enterprise that helps to fill an unmet research need in a particular field. We must be forward-thinking in order to take a leading role in meeting specific grand challenges.

By identifying grand challenges to address, we aim to harness the collective strength of our university. We aim to bring scholars and researchers from different units into collaboration In order to fulfill the chancellor’s challenge that we make UT into a national and international leader in defined and important research areas.

To provide input, complete the survey and plan to attend one of the town hall discussion sessions. Additional workshops will be scheduled to discuss ideas received through these initial efforts.

Once we’ve determined our grand challenges, we will be sending information out about how faculty can make proposals that respond to those challenges.

 

Strategic Enrollment Plan Ensures Stability

Students in the studio

Declaration Day celebrated new Vols in style.

For the seventh year in a row our incoming freshman class has increased in size.

This growth has been purposeful. Our Enrollment Management team knows that planned growth is important to maintaining a stable student population and contributing to the financial health of our university.

Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Kari Alldredge and her team, in consultation with Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Chris Cimino, University Strategy Advisor Serena Matsunaga, and me, are working on the framework for a five-year strategic plan that facilitates continued growth of our undergraduate population.

The plan projects the number of incoming freshmen, transfer students, and Volunteer Bridge students we want to recruit each year. It also outlines our strategic priorities, which include recruiting the best and brightest students from Tennessee, increasing our out-of-state enrollment, and increasing the number of international and minority students we bring in.

Determining how many students we need to enroll each year is part of a larger formula that takes into account new student enrollment, retention, and fiscal considerations.

The more students we graduate, the more we must enroll to keep our population stable or growing. We must look at the total number of students we have, the makeup of our student body across classes, the money we spend on merit- and need-based scholarships, and the money we need to reinvest in scholarships to support our enrollment goals.

Demographics are also key. Much of the nation is seeing a declining number of high school graduates, which means we’re competing with other colleges and universities for a dwindling group of students. This population is also diversifying, with the Hispanic population projected to grow at the highest rate.

All of these factors require continual adjustments in the way we recruit students—the cost of recruiting students, the messages we use to attract students, and the support systems we need to have in place for students when they arrive.

Our end goal is to keep the enrollment equation balanced to keep our classes filled, our residence halls full, and our university thriving.

Other news from Enrollment Management:

  • D’Aloisio arrives—Fabrizio D’Aloisio joined us as assistant vice provost for enrollment management and director for undergraduate admissions this summer. He began his career as an admissions counselor and spent the past 15 years working at the College Board, a nonprofit organization that administers the SAT and the Advanced Placement program along with other college-readiness programs. “He’s very strategic and takes a data-driven approach to recruitment and decision making,” Alldredge said. “He also understands the importance of the student experience and attracting good-fit students to our campus.”
  • Declaration Day—The first-of-its-kind event celebrated the May 1 college confirmation deadline with the same sort of excitement that Athletics generates when announcing newly signed athletes. The program, hosted by Tennessee Titans announcer Mike Keith, was broadcast live online from UT’s Ray and Lucy Hand Digital Studio. Nearly 840 people watched it on YouTube and more than 3,470 watched it on Facebook Live. “We hope it builds momentum and excitement for prospective students,” Alldredge said. “The team is already excited about ideas to celebrate our new Vols at the May 1 event in 2018.”
  • Volunteering with the Vols—For the second year, we encouraged students and alumni to join forces in a series of community service events in 14 cities around the country over the summer. About 238 people joined in the fun. Not only did these events provide participants with great networking opportunities, but they also underscored what it means to be a Volunteer. We will be expanding the program this fall with events coinciding with UT football away games.
  • VIP Experience—We will be hosting a new series of events for prospective students in nine out-of-state markets this fall. High school students will be invited to learn more about UT. Events will be held in Florida, California, and New Jersey, as well as Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Houston, and Washington, DC.

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