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About the VPSS


In Fall 2022, the University of Tennessee welcomed its largest class of incoming students in history with 6,846 first-year students joining the Volunteer community. In addition, 89 percent of last year’s first-year students returned to Rocky Top for their sophomore year.

While other higher education institutions across the country have seen a decline in enrollment and persistence since the COVID pandemic began, UT is experiencing unprecedented growth and success. Those accomplishments are in no small part due to the hard work and dedication of our Student Success division, initiatives, and programming.

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 Volunteer Experience awarded grants to Biology, Engineering Fundamentals, and English faculty to incorporate well-being and career readiness pedagogy in the classroom.
  • The inaugural cohort of the UT Success Academy experienced a 90 percent fall-to-fall retention rate, and all UTSA student scholars completed an individual success plan during their first year.
  • In its second year, the Vol Success Teams continued its team-based approach to supporting student scholars in identifying and achieving their academic, personal, and professional goals.
  • Undergraduate Research & Fellowships conducted interviews and submitted applications for 106 student scholars applying for national and international awards, launched the first Gilman application writing workshop, and featured 1,105 student presenters and 307 faculty mentors during the annual Discovery Day and EURēCA undergraduate research exhibitions.

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

  • 94 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.
  • 97 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.
  • 64 percent of recent graduates gained employment after graduation.

Please refer to Student Success’ 2021-2022 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.