The entire campus is excited to host the Fall 2023 Commencement ceremonies to celebrate our graduates’ achievements, with ceremonies taking place over two days:

  • Friday, Dec. 15: Graduate School, 2:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 16: College of Arts and Sciences and College of Engineering and Computer Science, 9 a.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 16: Gary W. Rollins College of Business and College of Health, Education and Professional Studies, 1 p.m.

Due to McKenzie Arena construction limiting attendance capacity, students must register in advance to get tickets for themselves, family and friends.  Please be on the lookout for commencement ticket information announcements from the Registrar’s Office.

Leveraging Our Special Place as Chattanooga’s University

We will have big news to share at the National Forum to Advance Rural Education, which takes place today and tomorrow (Nov. 16-17).  A big round of applause goes out to Dr. Allen Pratt, interim co-director of the UTC School of Education and executive director of the National Rural Education Association, for bringing the 2023 Convention and Research Symposium to Chattanooga.

The achievements of our graduates serve as a crucial barometer for the caliber of our programs.  I was inspired to read the story of Dylan Rivera, a 2020 graduate who majored in political science: public policy with a minor in criminal justice.  Dylan is now the director of policy planning and implementation for the City of Chattanooga, and he recently received the Chattanooga’s Choice Award at La Paz Chattanooga’s 2023 Latino Leadership Awards.  His work directly influences Chattanooga’s minority neighborhoods by bridging generational health, safety and prosperity disparities.

Cultivating a Culture of Innovation

Vice Chancellor and Chief Information Officer Vicki Farnsworth has taken on the critical role of overseeing the University’s integration of generative AI across campus.  As UTC directly takes on the challenges and opportunities presented by this innovative technology, it is vital that we move forward to apply generative AI across campus.  I would also like to thank Vicki for her terrific job steering the Division of Communications and Marketing for the last five months.

Congratulations to Dr. Mina Sartipi on being the recipient of the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council’s annual Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award, which honors exemplary leadership and success in championing, connecting and strengthening Tennessee’s advanced energy economy.  Mina was recognized for her data-driven approach to tackling real-world challenges in Smart City applications focused on mobility, energy and health.  What a tremendous honor!

UTC’s Center for Global Education is celebrating International Education Week (IEW), a joint initiative of the U.S. Departments of State and Education.  UTC and other colleges have been offering students, faculty and staff an opportunity to engage in cross-cultural understanding through special events focused on international learning, leadership and exchange.

Creating the Mocs Experience

Kudos to everyone involved in planning and participating in this fall’s Power C Tour events in Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville and the University Center.  The four tour stops attracted 1,033 total students, parents and guests.  Of the 446 students who attended, more than 30% (138) were admitted to UTC in a “Moc Minute,” which allowed qualified high school seniors to apply for free and be admitted on the spot.

Last Saturday, more than 800 students and guests came to campus for the Blue and Gold Preview Day.  The University Center atmosphere was electric!  We saw visitors from Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois and Pennsylvania.  Great job everyone on showing off our Mocs spirit!

This fall, we introduced a new UTC monthly welcoming event which brings together Mocs staff hired during the previous month.  Employees who joined UTC in September were invited to an October meet-and-greet, which also included several ELT members and administrative support staff.  Similar occasions will occur monthly, and I encourage supervisors to make sure new employees attend, meet members of the UTC family and create connections.  Recent October and November hires, please be on the lookout for information about upcoming new Moc employee events.

UTC Theatre Co.’s production of “Alabaster” runs through Saturday night (Nov. 18).  The cast includes UTC theatre majors Maegan Whitlock (senior/Nolensville, TN), Calista Geralds (junior/Chattanooga), Nancy Tillman (senior/Franklin, TN) and Karlee Ming Jamieson (sophomore/Murfreesboro, TN).  A big round of applause to everyone involved in the production!

The UTC Percussion Ensemble annually hosts a concert/food drive on the Monday before Thanksgiving.  This year’s Beat Hunger concert, taking place at 7:30 p.m. on Monday (Nov. 20) in the Roland Hayes Concert Hall, is partnering with Scrappy’s Cupboard to raise food for students on campus facing food insecurity.  Admission to the concert is two cans of non-perishable food items or any other donation to Scrappy’s Cupboard.

Kudos to the Division of Advancement on helping raise $120,000 for the Marching Mocs’ New Year’s Day Parade trip, making it possible for the students—musicians, color guard, drum majors and majorettes—as well as some faculty members and administrative staff to spend a week in London.

Operating with Excellence

Kudos to Breanna Evans (senior/exercise science and psychology/Smyrna, TN) on earning honorable mention undergraduate poster recognition at the annual Black Doctoral Network conference in Atlanta for her research study titled “Environmental Factors that Contribute to College Students Concerning Sleep and Physical Activity.”  Following graduation, she plans to pursue a doctoral degree in occupational therapy.  Way to go, Breanna!

Volleyball junior Elaine Redman (exercise science/Chattanooga) has been selected as the Southern Conference Setter of the Week five times this fall.  She becomes the first Moc in program history to win five Player of the Week awards in one season.

Congratulations to the UTC Veteran and Military Affairs staff, led by director Sylvana Matthews, on UTC being recognized as one of the country’s top schools for military veterans by Military Times.  UTC was one of 325 institutions nationwide selected for Military Times’ 2023 Best for Vets: Colleges list, the largest and most comprehensive annual ranking of schools for military service members and veterans.  Approximately 600 veterans, military-affiliated students, spouses and dependents of veterans are enrolled at UTC this fall, comprising more than 5% of the student population.

Our School of Nursing program continues to shine!  Three online doctoral-level UTC School of Nursing programs were ranked among the Top 20 in the country by  The online source ranked the Nurse Practitioner and BSN-to-DNP Bridge programs at No. 19 and the Nurse Practitioner program at No. 16 as one of the country’s most affordable.  The School of Nursing was also the top vote-getter in’s Tennessee Student Choice Award competition.

In recognition of the great work of our staff and faculty, Friday, Dec. 22, has been designated as an additional holiday closure day.  Our greatest asset is our people, and we want to express our sincere gratitude for your unwavering commitment and diligence. The University will close for the Winter Holiday at the end of business on Dec. 21 and re-open on Tuesday, Jan. 2.

I would like to wish our students, faculty and staff a very Happy Thanksgiving!  Thank you for all you do to make UTC a special place.  Together, we are having a transformational impact on the lives of our students and the communities we serve.


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