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About the VPSS


The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is experiencing quite a growth spurt, to say the least! We are excited to welcome a record 36,000 Vols back to campus this semester, largely in part due to an approximate 90 percent retention rate and 6,700 of these students being in their first year. It’s an exciting time to be on Rocky Top! 

UT, in the past three years since the COVID pandemic began, has experienced record enrollment and persistence in comparison to other higher education institutions across the country. Those of us in Student Success believe that success is partly due to the remarkable accomplishments and hard work we have dedicated to transforming the undergraduate student experience. 

Through Goal One of the Strategic Vision, the Division of Student Success has strategically aligned itself to transform the Volunteer Experience and integrate well-being into the holistic experience for every Vol. The Volunteer Experience is a comprehensive, university-wide approach to student scholars’ well-being and success—inside and outside the classroom. It will harness the power of our student scholars’ strengths, promote their well-being, and produce graduates who are self-motivated, resilient, confident, and driven by service. 

Over the past year, Student Success has continued its mission of supporting the unique goals of every student scholar through innovative programming, including the following. 

  • The Center for Career Development & Academic Exploration announced a record 90 percent positive career outcome, with graduating Vols gaining either employment or continuing their education. 
  • UT was named a Fulbright Top-Producing Institution for the fifth year in a row – 164 student scholars applied for national and international awards, a 53 percent increase from the previous year. 
  • The Academic Success Center completed 13,956 total academic coaching engagements, a 3.1 percent increase from the previous year. 

Further, data shows that the high-quality services we provide at UT impact student scholars’ success. Specific achievements include: 

  • 99.5 percent of first-year student scholars engaged with their Vol Success Team. Student scholars who engaged with their team reported lower levels of stress and higher perceptions of belongingness and academic success. 
  • 99.5 percent of first-year student scholars engaged with a high-impact practice, including a first-year seminar. Student scholars who participated in a first-year seminar had higher GPAs than those who did not. 
  • 96 percent of first-year students achieved good academic standing at the end of their first year at UT. 

Please refer to Student Success’ 2022-2023 annual report for a broader view of our work. This report reflects the tremendous work we are doing that is central to the division and university’s focus on providing high-quality educational opportunities to student scholars at every stage of life, whenever and wherever they seek to learn. 

I am always excited for our journey forward and for collaborating with our student scholars, faculty, and staff to enhance student success here at UT. Go Vols! 

In the Volunteer spirit,

Amber Williams
Vice Provost for Student Success

P.S. I refer to students as student scholars. Reframing their roles as scholars sets clear expectations of the academic curiosity that we hope they will achieve.

Vice Provost Amber Williams Biography

Please email to request a presentation by Vice Provost Williams.