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UT’s Academic Success Center and other campus support offices including One Stop Student Services and academic advising will host Pizza Pop-Ups on December 5 and 6 to offer assistance as our student scholars prepare for finals.

Each Pizza Pop-Up will be college specific and tailored toward fall 2022 first-year and transfer students. Below are the Pizza Pop-Ups for scholars within the Tickle College of Engineering, the College of Arts & Sciences, and the Herbert College of Agriculture.

  • Arts & Sciences Pizza Pop-Up: Monday, December 5 from 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. (Strong Hall Atrium)
  • Herbert College of Agriculture Pizza Pop-Up: Tuesday, December 6 from 3:30 p.m.-5 p.m. (Brehm Animal Science Building)
  • Tickle College of Engineering Pizza Pop-Up: Tuesday, December 6 from 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. (178 Zeanah)

Following the recommendations of the Strengths Advisory Council, a multidisciplinary team of faculty and administrators that provides guidance on student success strategies, the Office of the Provost and Division of Student Success have selected Dr. Sally Hunter as the inaugural Volunteer Experience faculty director.

Dr. Hunter, clinical associate professor in the College of Education, Health & Human Sciences, will join Dr. Krystyne Savarese, assistant vice provost and chief strategist for the Division of Student Success, and Dr. Patrick Biddix, Professor of Higher Education and associate director of the Postsecondary Education Research Center, to partner with UT faculty on development of strategic curricular interventions that bolster student well-being and success. 

“So many faculty at this university are already incredibly supportive of the students in their classrooms and labs,” Dr. Hunter said. “I look forward to working with my faculty colleagues on the Volunteer Experience initiative. We seek to recognize the ongoing efforts that support student well-being and examine additional ways we can contribute to our students’ success.”  

Hunter also serves as coordinator of undergraduate advising in the Department of Child & Family Studies. Her early work in the faculty director role will focus on two key initiatives. 

  • Continued partnership with the Office of Teaching & Learning Innovation (TLI) to implement the Student Success Grant initiative. Success Grants are awarded to departments that seek to implement innovative curricular interventions and well-being strategies to improve student outcomes in large-enrollment or gateway courses with high DFW rates.   
  • Development of a Volunteer Experience Faculty Fellows program comprised of faculty interested in learning about well-being pedagogy and fostering the peer-to-peer promotion of well-being constructs amongst the faculty in their respective colleges. 

“Dr. Hunter is a dynamic and passionate leader who brings a demonstrated commitment to supporting student success in her own practice, and I am grateful to have her in this role,” Amber Williams, vice provost for Student Success, said.   

Dr. John Zomchick, provost and senior vice chancellor, noted that development of a unifying Volunteer Experience is a priority in the university’s strategic vision.  

“I look forward to the creative collaboration with our faculty to help students thrive inside and outside the classroom,” Dr. Zomchick said. “Partnerships with faculty are crucial to our strategic commitment to the Volunteer Experience, and Dr. Hunter will be an excellent leader to work with faculty, connect them to each other, and realize our shared goals.” 

Faculty interested in applying to serve as Volunteer Experience Faculty Fellows can learn more by exploring the informational website and find well-being-based classroom resources provided by Teaching and Learning Innovation.

 

Contact: Lacey Wood, laceywood@utk.edu   


 

Kevin Reeves, director of Strategic Initiatives for the Division of Student Success, has been named one of 32 individuals to be selected for the Complete Tennessee Leadership Institute (CTLI).  

The institute, a joint initiative of the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) and The Hunt Institute, selects leaders from higher education, K-12 education, government, business, and nonprofit organizations to a one-year program aimed at equipping leaders from across Tennessee with the strategies and knowledge to play a leading role in eliminating barriers to postsecondary education and completion in Tennessee. In partnership with The Hunt Institute, SCORE will provide learning opportunities for the 2022-23 CTLI participants and support cohort members in translating that learning into action. 

“We have a bold vision to enhance and reimagine the student experience so that every student thrives,” said Amber Williams, vice provost for student success. “We are thrilled Dr. Reeves has been selected for the CTLI. The knowledge he gains from the institute will foster our goals becoming reality.” 

Reeves joined the Division of Student Success in July 2021 having previously been the neighborhood director of Student Success at Michigan State University and with more than 15 years of professional experience, including at the University of Florida, Virginia Commonwealth, and Wayne State University.  

As the director of Strategic Initiatives, Reeves provides leadership for high-priority initiatives, including Summer @ Rock Top, Rocky Top Commuters, and the Vol Success Summit 

“I am honored to be selected to this prestigious role and look forward to sharing the Volunteer vision for providing access to all student scholars across the state and country,” Reeves said. 

Since 2019, SCORE has partnered with The Hunt Institute to not only engage deeply on solutions in Tennessee, but also to provide access to national perspectives, experts, and best practices for CTLI participants. Over the course of a year, cohort members will meet four times to expand their knowledge about postsecondary policy and practice, learn about best practices to improve postsecondary access and success, and build action plans to accelerate postsecondary success in their own communities. This diverse group of leaders will work to identify the barriers and equity gaps that exist in Tennessee’s postsecondary system and advocate within their own communities to drive change. 


With plans to make their own impact on the world, 10 University of Tennessee students will take on Washington D.C. after securing internships with the United States Congress through the Congressional Internship Program (CIP). The summer program runs anywhere from six to 10 weeks during which the students work closely with legislative staff on a variety of projects. Cierra Potter and Savannah Jones

Current interns, Cierra Potter and Savannah Jones, shared their experiences living and working in D.C. through the program. “I have already gained so much knowledge about how congress really works,” Potter said. “I feel like I learn something new every day while being here, sometimes it’s about policy, sometimes it’s about politics, and sometimes I learn things just about the professional world in general.”  

Both emphasized the importance of using the career center as a resource and not being shy to “just go for it” when it comes to applying for new opportunities and expressed how much they are learning already.  

“I’m learning new things every day and meeting so many new people,” Jones said. “Every day is different. I answer constituent calls, make callbacks, draft communications, give tours of the capital, attend briefings, do research for the legislative assistants, and meet with visitors who come to the office.” 

The Congressional Internship Program gives students from all majors with an interest in government, public policy, and Capitol Hill careers the opportunity to see the inner workings of Capitol Hill.  

“We’ve had students from nearly all of UT’s colleges participate in the CIP over the years and find value in the experience,” Stephanie Kit, executive director of the Center for Career Development & Academic Exploration, said. “The CIP provides a great opportunity for students to experience a congressional office firsthand and explore their career goals. One of the most valuable takeaways from the experience is building a network of contacts that can help with future career plans.” 

The summer 2022 Congressional Internship Program interns and the offices where they are working:  

  • Meredith Bailey: Class of ’23, majoring in political science, Congresswoman Harashbarger 
  • Robert Fieldan Bowman: Class of ’24, majoring in finance, Congressman Burchett 
  • Garrett Everett: Class of ’23, majoring in political science, Congressman Burchett 
  • Savannah Jones: Class of ’23, majoring in agricultural economics, Congressman Desjarlais 
  • Abigail Lawrence: Class of ’23, majoring in geography, Congressman Burchett 
  • Cierra Potter: Class of ’23, majoring in psychology, Congressman Desjarlais 
  • Shrujana Senthil: Class of ’24, majoring in political science, Congressman Cohen 
  • Sarah Sexton: Class of ’23, majoring in English, Congressman Rose 
  • Noah Smith: Class of ’23, majoring in supply chain management, Senator Hagerty 
  • Catelyn Williams: Class of ’22, majoring in political science, Congressman Cohen 

Students can learn more about the Congressional Internship Program and how to apply through the Center for Career Development & Academic Exploration. Members of the CIP committee interview selected applicants. If chosen for the program, students must apply to all Tennessee congressional offices they wish to intern with. Once their offer and internship are secured, they will receive funding from the career center to offset the costs of living in Washington D.C.  

Contact:

Lacey Wood (laceywood@utk.edu)

Riya Patel (rkh814@vols.utk.edu)


The Exhibition of Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement (EURēCA), led by Undergraduate Research & Fellowships in the Division of Student Success, took place on April 25, 2022.

This year’s event was hosted in UT’s Student Union with 997 students showing 654 projects from a wide range of disciplines and methodologies. On May 2 during a closing awards ceremony, participating colleges presented a total of 91 awards for excellence in undergraduate research and creative achievement.

Senior Ashlyn Anderson is a Haslam Scholar, Torchbearer, Fulbright recipient, and UT representative at the Posters at the Capitol research event. She said, “EURēCA has offered a world of opportunity to showcase my research, connect with other passionate peers, and recognize the importance of undergraduate research. It has given me a platform upon which I have strengthened my presentation and poster creation skills, all while being scaffolded by faculty and staff.”

In addition, the 2022 Faculty Research Mentor Award Winners, sponsored by URF, were announced. This award recognizes UT faculty who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to mentoring undergraduate researchers. At least two undergraduate students must nominate them, with at least one having participated in the recent EURēCA.

Laura Russo, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and recipient of a Faculty Research Mentor award in the natural sciences, said EURēCA was a great opportunity for her students to prepare and present their research projects. “For many of them, it is their first presentation, and they are very nervous, but they learn a lot from the process and enjoy seeing the other research projects that are ongoing,” she said. “This is definitely a great way for us to share our work at UTK.”

Since 1997, EURēCA has become one of UT’s premier undergraduate research events and is an annual spring event that showcases research and creative activities across all disciplines by currently enrolled undergraduate students in collaboration with a faculty mentor. This year, student research was overseen by 233 faculty mentors, as well as postdocs and graduate students helping to mentor undergraduates in their research groups. In addition, 150 campus and industry judges participated, and division representatives worked with Undergraduate Research & Fellowships for the entire academic year to provide this opportunity for students.

“EURēCA was new to me, but I am so excited to have been a part of it,” said Jennifer Ware, an award-winner in the humanities division, senior in Judaic Studies, and first-time EURēCA participant. “EURēCA gave me, not only the opportunity to share my current research, but an important line to add to my CV. I appreciate everyone who put in countless hours to give undergraduates the opportunity to experience a research platform that will provide skills that are necessary for those of us continuing on a path that includes research.”


UT’s Programs Abroad Office at the Center for Global Engagement recently announced this year’s recipients of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. The entire article can be read here.


Soon-to-be graduate, Tasimba Jonga, received UT’s highest student honor this spring being named a 2022 Torchbearer. Jonga has also been named a Knight-Hennessy Scholar at Stanford University where he will be a graduate student in management science and engineering. The entire article can be read here.


Following a national search, the University of Tennessee has selected Patrick Akos as the next associate vice provost for Student Success and executive director of Honors & Scholars Programs, beginning July 1. In this role, Akos will chart a bold, new vision for UT’s honors programs and will enhance and expand the university’s undergraduate research and fellowships enterprise. 

“Dr. Akos is a visionary and collaborative leader prepared to transform UT’s efforts to support our undergraduate student scholars through honors, undergraduate research, and fellowships initiatives,” Amber Williams, vice provost for Student Success, said.   

Akos and James Williams, director of Honors & Scholars Programs and associate professor in the College of Education, Health, & Human Sciences, will enhance collaborations with UT faculty to re-imagine the university honors experience through innovative pedagogy and a rigorous curriculum effective student support services. Director Williams, who has served as a faculty member in CEHHS since 2014, brings a successful record of innovating undergraduate curriculum and serving as an advocate for student scholars to his role as director of the Honors & Scholars Program. 

 “The honors experience should encourage students to dig deeper and go further with their academic interests,” Director Williams said. “I look forward to collaborating with Dr. Akos and our acclaimed faculty to enhance the honors experience for current and future Volunteers.” 

With Erin Darby, faculty director of Undergraduate Research & Fellowships and associate professor in the College of Arts & Sciences, and Andrew Seidler, director of Undergraduate Research & Fellowships, Akos will strengthen UT’s undergraduate research and fellowships initiatives by expanding access and enhancing support services. 

Akos, who will serve as a consultant to the university during the summer, expressed his enthusiasm for joining UT. “I am honored to join this vibrant community of innovative thinkers and doers and look forward to collaborating with faculty and staff to advance the success of all Volunteers.” 

Akos currently serves as a professor in the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research, teaching, supervision, clinical practice, and leadership are grounded in a strengths-based framework. He examines how best to support and cultivate well-being, especially during educational and career transitions. Pending approval from UT’s Board of Trustees, Akos will continue as a full, tenured professor in the College of Education, Health, & Human Sciences. 

The search committee, which included broad faculty and staff representation and opportunities for campus partners to engage with finalists, was led by Christopher Stripling, professor and head of the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications. 

Reflecting on the comprehensive search process, John Zomchick, provost and senior vice chancellor, said, “I am grateful to the search committee and the UT community for engaging in a collaborative process that resulted in the selection of Dr. Akos.” 

A campus-wide reception will take place this fall to welcome Professor Akos to the UT community.  

Contact: Kelsey Kyne, kkyne@utk.edu 


First-Generation Initiatives, a key unit within Student Success, celebrated first-generation students, faculty, and staff during events held Tuesday, April 5, and Wednesday, April 6. 

The inaugural class of the newly established Alpha Alpha Alpha (Tri Alpha) Honors Society was inducted on April 5 in the Student Union Flying J Ballroom. UT’s Provost John Zomchick, a first-generation student, was the first of 166 inductees into the honors society and gave opening remarks. Zomchick accepted the charter for the new organization during the ceremony, which began with a networking reception for students and their families. 

“I am deeply honored to be inducted into Alpha Alpha Alpha and to celebrate with our first-generation students,” Provost Zomchick said. “First-generation students not only change their own lives, but they also become role models for their friends and family. The entire course of a family can change because of a first-generation student’s courageous decision to pursue higher education. We are proud to support these students on their journey.” 

“Provost Zomchick advocates and supports our programs, and we wanted to acknowledge him with inducting him as the first member,” Talisha Adams, director of First-Generation Initiatives, said. 

Associate Vice Provost for Student Success Leonard Clemons provided the keynote address. In addition to the students, eight faculty and staff members who serve on the First-Generation Advisory Council were inducted as honorary members.  

Autumn Large, a sophomore in mathematics and inductee into Tri Alpha, said she appreciates the idea of being a role model for further generations. “It is a journey of unfamiliarity, yet persistence despite the odds being somewhat against me,” Large said. “It is a reminder that I am creating my own legacy for subsequent generations of my family.” 

Following the ceremony, inductees will elect the first executive board before the semester ends and kickoff fall 2022 as a member of the society.  

The following day, April 6, the inaugural First-Generation Faculty & Staff Reception took place in the Frieson Black Cultural Center, cohosted by the Office of the Provost and First-Generation Initiatives. Approximately 40 faculty and staff attended.  

Provost Zomchick again offered remarks during the reception, especially relating to his identity as a first-generation college student and graduate. Vice Provost for Student Success Amber Williams spoke about the university’s support of first-generation students and both current and future initiatives that are dedicated to the success of those students.  

“During this week of honoring our first-generation student scholars, faculty, and staff, it was an honor to celebrate alongside them and acknowledge the unique perspectives and strengths they bring to the Volunteer community,” Williams said. “Their contributions are not only seen and felt at UT, but throughout the larger community and world.” 

First-Generation Initiatives will host the First-Generation Graduates Reception on May 9 from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. in the Student Union Pilot Flying J Ballroom.  


The Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project (TCDJHP) presented the Veterans Success Center at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with a $25,000 donation on Tuesday, March 22.

Board members David Corlew, co-founder of the organization and manager for theCheck receiving ceremony late Charlie Daniels, and Major General Terry “Max” Haston (retired) visited the center to meet with student veterans and attended the Tennessee vs. Butler home baseball game for a check presentation with Jayetta Rogers, director of the Veterans Success Center, and Leonard Clemons, associate vice provost for Student Success.

“Continuing education has and continues to be an important step in the reintegration of many returning veterans,” Corlew said. “Charlie had a close relationship with the University of Tennessee, so it’s our mission to support our veterans that are pursuing their educational needs. The Veterans Success Center is growing daily with Jayetta and the team, and we are proud to be of assistance in any way possible.”

The $25,000 donation will go to the creation of a Veterans Success Institute, student veteran transformational grants, a veteran emergency fund, and technology upgrades. The donation is the third and largest gift UT has received from The Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project, and Rogers said she hopes it’s the beginning of a long and meaningful relationship with the organization. “Charlie Daniels was a tremendous supporter of the University of Tennessee, and we are beyond grateful to receive this gift that will enhance the academic, professional, and personal success of our student veterans while at UT.”

“Ensuring that veteran students have a solid foundation for success is the reason that The Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project supports our state universities’ Veterans centers. TCDJHP believes that assisting and supporting veterans in obtaining a quality education is a critical phase line in their ‘Journey Home’,” Haston said. “We hope that by contributing to the University of Tennessee Veterans Success Center will start a habit for others to follow ensuring the center’s future.

About the UT Veterans Success Center

Established in 2017, the Veterans Success Center is uniquely qualified to enrich the transition to UT for student veterans and military-affiliated students with tailored services that enhance academic success and holistic development. The center supports more than 1,000 Vol veterans and military-affiliated spouses and children, including active duty, Army Reserve and National Guard, military families, and survivors.

About The Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project
The Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project (TCDJHP) is a not-for profit organization that assists other not-for-profits in securing funds to help causes that benefit veterans of the United States Armed Forces. The organization was co-founded in 2014 by the late country music legend Charlie Daniels and his manager, David Corlew. Board members include Corlew, Major General Terry “Max” Haston (retired) and most recently in 2020, Hazel Daniels. Conscious of the need to assist our nation’s veterans, TCDJHP partners with organizations that do the most good, with the least overhead. Working in tandem with these organizations, TCDJHP is making a difference in the lives of American patriots. TCDJHP’s daily operations rely solely on public donations. For more information or to donate, visit thecharliedanielsjourneyhomeproject.org.