My first six months at the University of Tennessee has been a journey of excitement, at times, challenges, yet filled with opportunities for growth and enhancements. As I reflect over the last few months, I feel grateful and blessed.
Together, Student Success and our campus partners have accomplished so much from the launch of the Vol Success Teams, Vol First-Year Experience, New V.O.L. Experience, a total reorganization, staff transitions, and the most significant challenge we faced—pivoting to remote learning in less than seven days. I believe that was our finest hour—radically collaborating to support and reassure our scholars during a time when we, too, felt lost and uncertain. We led a campaign to call 29,000 students, and when some said it couldn’t be done—we did it.
While many of our higher education peers are concerned about enrollment, UT is on track to attain two new records: our highest first-to-second-year retention rate and our largest first-time, full-time, and transfer student cohorts in memory. These achievements happened because of you, us, and the Volunteer community. I am honored to work beside you.
What makes UT so unique is the people. As Volunteers, we roll up our sleeves and get to work. Amid three pandemics (COVID-19, racial inequality, and economic), we’ve never been afraid to sweat. We never faltered; when times got tough, we persisted. However, I also recognize as we enter a new semester, it will be difficult, and there will be moments of stress and uncertainty. If we continue to persevere—together—leading through grace, radical collaboration, and transparency—we can do big things.
As a community, we stand together to celebrate our success, face these challenges, and influence the lives of scholars. I am proud to be UT’s vice provost. Go Vols!
In the Volunteer spirit,
Vice Provost for Student Success
P.S. I refer to students as scholars. Reframing their roles as scholars sets clear expectations of the academic curiosity we hope they will achieve.