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UT Success Academy Focuses on Black and Latinx Students


Students in HSS PlazaThe University of Tennessee, Knoxville, announces the UT Success Academy, a new initiative dedicated to the success and excellence of male Black and Latinx students. A collaboration between the Divisions of Student Success, Student Life, and Diversity and Engagement, the UT Success Academy has the mission of maximizing first-year male Black and Latinx students’ transition to the Volunteer community through an innovative four-year customized academic infrastructure, experiential learning, community building, and transformative experiences both on and off campus.

“As a land-grant institution, UT is committed to preparing students with the tools to achieve personal and professional excellence. The UT Success Academy is a testament to this commitment. The academy is uniquely positioned between three units to help students build their identities, engage academically, and create supportive social networks. We’re thrilled with the opportunity to change the game in persistence and graduation rates for men of color,” said Amber Williams, UT’s vice provost for student success.

Students in classUtilizing a strengths-based approach, the UT Success Academy is designed to increase persistence and graduation rates for Black and Latinx men while promoting academic and social engagement across campus. The program’s curriculum will offer a customized educational infrastructure to support the students’ unique needs. Students will have extended learning beyond the classroom, encouraging curiosity, leadership, and critical thinking.

“We are pleased to support this impactful program as we develop intentional initiatives to support our men of color on campus,” said Tyvi Small, vice chancellor for diversity and engagement. “This is an opportunity to live out our values of diversity, equity, and inclusion as we use a strengths-based approach to build a transformational experience for these scholars. This is an example of a proven high-impact practice that will aid in the retention and graduation of our men of color.”

Students will first participate in the Fall Kick-off Institute, a customized preorientation program. Each year of the program features a curriculum for understanding, building, and stretching students’ strengths. After the second year, 25 participating students will be awarded a fully funded study abroad trip to understand leadership philosophy in a global setting and explore cultures, life experiences, and world views through service–learning and cultural immersion activities.

“The academy supports our men of color through intentional experiences that build upon their strengths and promote their success in college,” explained Frank Cuevas, vice chancellor for student life. “The collaboration among our Divisions of Student Success, Student Life, and Diversity and Engagement demonstrates our strong commitment to each individual student’s learning experience. We are incredibly excited to support and engage our scholars in all aspects of the Volunteer experience.”

All admitted UT students can apply to participate in the academy when the application opens in early March. Requirements include a commitment to academic and leadership excellence and demonstrated knowledge and experience supporting Black and Latinx men. Participating students must be prepared to contribute to their peers’ education while fulfilling all program requirements.

“Our UT Success Academy plan is simple — every story matters, every Volunteer matters,” said Williams. “We will build the structures necessary for them to graduate.”

For more information about the UT Success Academy, visit the academy’s web page.