Welcome back! I hope everyone had an enjoyable winter break and is rested and ready to start the spring semester. To our newest Mocs: Welcome to UTC. We are glad you are here!
Congratulations to everyone involved in Operation Move In and the COVID-19 testing. Testing students and getting them into residence halls smoothly was handled with incredible skill and organization. Everyone did their part, and it worked out better than we could have hoped. Thank you to our resident life, housing, health teams and our many volunteers. What an incredible team effort! Kudos to Yancy Freeman and Chris Smith for their leadership and attention to detail. Also, a big shout-out to our students for using great judgment over winter break in protecting themselves – we had only nine positives out of nearly 2,000 tests!
Just like the fall semester, we are carefully and continuously monitoring data from the region, community and campus to make decisions that honor our mission and protect the health and safety of the campus community. Measures are in place to manage the risk associated with COVID-19, and we will be instituting new on-campus testing capabilities. Mocs helping Mocs is how we continue to keep this campus safe, and it takes a total team effort. Wearing masks, social distancing and limiting group sizes will continue to be part of our daily lives for the spring semester.
Students, we realize these have been difficult times for all of you, and there are people and places you can turn to on campus for assistance and support. Please check out the UTC website for a wide-ranging list of the many resources available to you.
MOC Forward, a virtual series of events and talks designed to spur conversations and actions for embracing equity, diversity, and inclusion at UTC, will resume via Zoom at 12:30 PM on January 28. The topic, “Moving Forward Together: White Allies and Accountability,” will be presented by Beth Douthirt-Cohen, a Social Justice Training Institute faculty member and the executive director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Frederick Community College in Maryland. Thank you to the Office of Equity and Inclusion, the Diversity Advisory Council, and members of the planning committee from across campus who assisted in organizing and developing these sessions.
UTC MLK Day 2021, a virtual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and legacy, will take place on January 29. The youth keynote address will be presented by Alex Tha Great, a renowned playwright and spoken word artist. Additional speakers and virtual links will be announced in the days leading up to the event. UTC MLK Day is sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Office of Equity and Inclusion and the Department of Communication in collaboration with various campus partners.
It is always an honor to recognize the recipients of Chancellor’s Blue Ribbon Awards, who are nominated by their coworkers for going above-and-beyond in supporting the UTC campus. Congratulations to the winners from the second half of 2020: Mike Andrews (Communications and Marketing), Yasmine Key (University Health Services), Marcus Williams (Housing and Residence Life), Val Sample (Housing and Residence Life), Craig Gosnell (Campus Recreation) and Kristen Johnson (Procurement and Contract Services). I encourage you to submit recommendations for this award by clicking on the Blue Ribbon Award nomination form.
In recent weeks, UTC and the athletics department have lost two great friends of the University in Frank Kinser and Jim Frost. Frank was a longtime supporter of UTC athletics and a former member of the UT Board of Trustees. He established the annual Porky’s Open Golf Tournament, raising more than $1 million for the UTC athletics scholarship fund over the last 20 years. Jim, a businessman and philanthropist, was heavily involved in the sport of softball and youth sports. He established one of the top softball facilities in the country in building Jim Frost Stadium, home of the Mocs softball team. Our thoughts and condolences go out to the Kinser and Frost families.