Welcome back MOCS!! I am so excited that the start of the 2021-2022 academic year is nearly here. I want to wish our new students, faculty and staff a special welcome to UTC; we are delighted to have you join our Mocs family. During the academic year, I like to share UTC happenings with a C-Note newsletter on the first and third Thursday of the month.
As I shared with campus earlier this week, while we were hopeful of transitioning to more normal pre-COVID conditions, the spread of the Delta variant means that the fall semester will begin with limited mask requirements. Students, faculty and staff are required to wear face coverings in classrooms, labs and required indoor academic spaces. We will continue to place the health and wellbeing of our campus community and the quality of our student experience at the forefront of our decision-making.
Our campus policies are aligned with the UT System guidelines, and we will continuously be monitoring the situation for everyone’s safety. I strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Vaccines are the most effective strategy in preventing this virus. University Health Services will be offering ongoing vaccine clinics. Please watch for information regarding those opportunities.
For those of you new to UTC, I would like to introduce our Executive Leadership Team (ELT), which is comprised of my Chief of Staff and the Vice Chancellors. I am honored to work with such an exceptional group of higher education leaders who do their very best each day to provide a high-quality educational experience for our students. A big welcome goes out to the newest members of the ELT, Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Engagement Stacy Lightfoot and Interim Vice Chancellor for Communications and Marketing Gina Stafford.
This fall’s freshmen make up the inaugural class of Cohort 2025, a comprehensive new approach to building community through cohort groups of incoming students around their main interests—whether academic, professional or extracurricular.
As we welcome all of our students back to campus, a big round of applause goes out to Val Sample, executive director for residential education and campus life, on receiving a 2021 University of Tennessee President’s Award. Val was this year’s recipient in the “support” category during the annual systemwide awards ceremony that recognizes exceptional contributions by faculty and staff in education, research, outreach and advancing diversity, and support for the institutional mission. Please join me in congratulating Val on this exceptional and well-deserved honor.
Since the end of the spring semester, there have been a multitude of honors for UTC students and personnel. A few of those highlights include:
- Megan Kaufman, a senior volleyball player and nursing major, was named to the College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America Division I Volleyball second team. Megan carries a perfect 4.0 GPA in the classroom and is the first Academic All-America second-team honoree in program history.
- Three UTC students were selected for highly competitive $4,000 Gilman Scholarships to study abroad: Communication major Anna Yarbro (who will study in South Korea during the 2021-2022 academic year), math major Sean Badurina (who will be studying in Japan), and humanities major Emma Sprayberry (who studied in South Korea during the summer).
- Li Yang, a Guerry professor in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, received the 2021 Director’s Award for Superior Accomplishment in National Spectrum Collaboration Group from the National Science Foundation, which recognizes outstanding accomplishment and strategic collaboration in the research and use of radio waves, which are widely used in many technologies—including telecommunications.
- UC Foundation associate professor of physics Josh Hamblen and associate professor of history Kira Robison won the UTC Alumni Association Outstanding Teacher Award, which recognizes faculty members exhibiting excellence in the classroom. Michael Thompson, department head and UC Foundation associate professor of history, won the UTAA Public Service Award. Talia Welsh, UC Foundation professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion, won honors as Distinguished Service Professor.
- Twelve graduates of the ROTC program earned their commissions in the U.S. Army as second lieutenants. The commissioning ceremony was the largest ROTC cohort involving UTC graduates since the program was reactivated at the University in 2007.
- More than 260 undergraduates and 105 graduate school students completed their degree programs this summer. Congratulations to our newest UTC alumni!
Finally, what an exciting time this is for UTC football! The Mocs were chosen to win the Southern Conference title in voting by league coaches and media, and they are nationally ranked at 20th in the Athlon Sports FCS Top 25 and HeroSports.com preseason polls. The season kicks off Thursday night, September 2, vs. Austin Peay at Finley Stadium. You can find ticket information on the gomocs.com site.
Classes will soon begin on August 16, and all Mocs must do their part to keep everyone at UTC safe and healthy. Let’s have a great school year, and Go Mocs!