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Chancellor’s Update

It was a pleasure to join members of our admissions and recruiting teams on the UT Promise Tour visits yesterday to four Chattanooga-area high schools—East Ridge, Ooltewah, Bradley Central and Walker Valley.  The UT Promise is an undergraduate scholarship program guaranteeing free tuition and mandatory fees for qualifying Tennessee residents attending UT campuses.  Starting with the 2024-2025 academic year, the UT Promise will increase the income threshold to $75,000 a year based on adjusted gross income.

Founder’s Week 2023, which is next week, celebrates our University’s 137th anniversary.  The event calendar includes the annual State of the University address at noon on Friday, September 15, in the University Center Auditorium; please click here to RSVP.  You can also watch the State of the University via Livestream. Events also include Coffee with the Chancellor from 8:15-9:30 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 14, in the Guerry Center Reading Room.

Next Tuesday (September 12), 199 members of the UTC family will be honored for reaching significant service milestones at the UTC Service Awards Annual Luncheon, which recognizes faculty and staff who have dedicated themselves to this University for anywhere from five to 40 years.  Our faculty and staff are UTC.  What they do and how they do it defines our university.  Three of our staff members are celebrating four decades at UTC—my administrative assistant, Teresa McKinney; Vanasia Parks, senior associate vice chancellor for business services; and Dr. Lucien Ellington, professor in the School of Education and director of the Asia Program and the Center for Reflective Citizenship.  Their excellence in all they do is a testament to the family we have at UTC and how we make a difference.

A new strategic partnership between the Honors College and the city of Chattanooga will create new and better ways to solve some of the city’s problems.  The Innovations in Honors program and the Chattanooga Department of Innovation Delivery and Performance signed a formal agreement to collaborate on solutions to citywide challenges involving public housing and health during the 2023-2024 academic year.  Congratulations to Honors College Dean Linda Frost and the faculty members leading Innovation Labs this academic year: Dr. Chris Acuff, Dr. Drew Bailey and Dr. Karissa Peyer.

Kudos to the Gary W. Rollins College of Business on the new Master of Science in Management online degree program at UTC, which begins with the spring 2024 semester.  The MS Management program directly addresses the demand from students and employers for a more specialized business degree in management.  This degree is open to students with undergraduate degrees in any discipline—not just those with business-related degrees.

Best wishes to the initial cohort of the new Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program, which officially started the first day of the semester.  The ABSN program is intended for those with bachelor’s degrees in any field seeking to transition to nursing careers.  The need for the accelerated program stems from a critical nursing shortage impacting healthcare across the region, the state and the country.

A big thumbs-up to the Learning and Leadership program on conferring its first undergraduate Essentials of Leadership Certificate awardee, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Director of Clinical Reporting Wanda Lockhart.  The online certificate program is designed for students in various careers, focusing on applying innovative and effective essential skills and knowledge needed to solve problems, communicate effectively, resolve conflict and increase effectiveness in diverse environments.  This is a shining example of how UTC continues to evolve to serve contemporary learners.

Our Mocs football team begins its home campaign this Saturday (September 9) with a 6 p.m. kickoff against Kennesaw State at Finley Stadium.  Mocs Flock Finley, a campus tradition of welcoming new students to UTC football, will take place prior to kickoff—with first-year students leading the team through the tunnel.  Go Mocs!

The Marching Mocs are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year, and Director of Bands Randall Coleman has done a fantastic job growing the program from 33 members when he came to UTC two years ago to 150 today.  On Saturday, September 16, the Marching Mocs’ annual Band Day will take place as part of football festivities against The Citadel.  More than 250 high school band members—and hopefully future Mocs—will engage in game day festivities, giving them a taste of what being a Marching Moc is all about.

A big round of applause to the UTC Athletics Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023 inductees: Michelle Fuzzard LaCourse (softball, 2008-2012), Stephan Jaeger (men’s golf, 2006-2009), Bobby Orand (wrestling, 1977-1980), Frank Reed (softball head coach since 2002) and Anastasia Zhukova (women’s tennis, 2006-2007) make up this year’s class.  The Hall of Fame also recognizes four individual award winners: Hiren Desai (Gordon Davenport Award), Cedric Greenway (Joe Morrison Award), McClendon Curtis (Scrappy Moore Award) and Dr. Frank “Bubba” Trundle Jr. (Harold Wilkes Award).  

Congratulations to Veteran and Military Affairs student ambassador Lewis Green (senior, cybersecurity, Virginia/Chattanooga), who was featured in G.I. Jobs magazine’s 2023 Student Veteran Leadership Awards issue as one of 32 impressive veterans positively impacting their schools.  Green served in the U.S. Army from 2013 to 2019.  Thank you for your service, Lewis.

Every year from September 15 to October 15, we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by appreciating the community’s history, heritage and contributions of the ancestors of American citizens who came from Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean, South America and Central America.  In collaboration with campus and community partners, the Office of Multicultural Affairs has a number of events planned to honor Latin American heritage.  Please visit the MCC’s Hispanic Heritage Month webpage for calendar information.

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and I encourage the campus community to participate in events or trainings to learn how to support and refer those in distress.  I also want to remind students, staff and faculty about the resources available for those experiencing life changes and severe challenges.  UTC CARES is a 24/7 crisis response service for people experiencing a mental health emergency or having suicidal thoughts.  This hotline number—423-425-CARE (2273)—provides campus community members an opportunity to speak with a licensed professional who can offer emotional support.  Employees needing support can also call (855 HERE4TN/855-437-3486).  It is OK to ask for help.

To our new students, as you begin your UTC journey, look for opportunities to learn outside the classroom.  Get involved in the life of our campus and community.  UTC faculty are scholars in their fields and engage in research, scholarship and creative activities with their students.  Take advantage of these opportunities and work alongside faculty to advance the frontiers of knowledge and creative expression.  Meet new people and forge lifelong friendships by connecting with campus clubs and student organizations.  Participate in initiatives that help Chattanooga area neighborhoods, schools and nonprofits.  I encourage you to visit MocSync to learn more about clubs and groups on campus and to find out about upcoming events.


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