KNOXVILLE – In his second State of the University address, University of Tennessee Interim President Randy Boyd reflected upon his first year in office, laid out his ambitious goals for 2020 and announced a new aspect of the UT Promise scholarship.
In the address Friday at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, Boyd launched the recruitment efforts for UT Promise volunteer mentors. UT Promise, which Boyd announced in March 2019, is UT’s new undergraduate scholarship program guaranteeing free tuition and mandatory fees for qualifying Tennessee residents attending UT’s campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga, Martin and Memphis. To date, UT Promise has garnered 7,068 applications. UT Promise will welcome its first class of students in fall 2020.
“As the land-grant university, we don’t want to measure ourselves by who we exclude; we want to measure ourselves by who we include,” Boyd said.
As part of the program, UT Promise students will be paired with mentors who help guide students through the transition to university life and beyond. Boyd was the first to sign up as a UT Promise mentor, with some UT chancellors signing up as well.
“I am excited to serve as a UT Promise mentor because I believe this is one of the greatest aspects of the UT Promise scholarship,” Boyd said. “Having the experience to interact with professors, chancellors, community leaders, alumni and more is invaluable to our students in preparing them for their lives during their college years and beyond.”
Mentors will be paired with two to five students and will spend one hour a month with their mentees. Mentors are asked to serve the same students for a two-year period. UT faculty and staff will be paired with freshmen and sophomores while UT alumni and friends will be paired with juniors and seniors.
If you are interested in learning more about the UT Promise mentorship, please visit tennessee.edu/ut-promise/mentoring/.
In his address, Boyd also reviewed some of UT’s key accomplishments in 2019, including increasing in enrollment and degrees awarded, progressing in mental health awareness and creating the Oak Ridge Institute at UT.
Total enrollment grew 1.5 percent to an all-time high of 51,582 students across all UT campuses. The University also awarded more than 12,000 degrees.
“Student success is the ‘why’ behind what we do,” Boyd said. “It will continue to be a top priority as our campuses work to enhance first-year retention and improve four-year and six-year graduation rates.”
Last August, the University hosted the first Summit for Opioid Addiction and Response. Boyd vowed that the University would continue to work towards solving the problem, which brought together resources from across the University and the state.
“This hits home in every corner of our state,” Boyd said.
From the Health Science Center in Memphis to UT Knoxville, our campuses are working to find solutions to this grand challenge.
“We are the trusted advisor,” he said.
Boyd also spoke about his goals for 2020, including making further progress on helping students through the OneUT for Student Mental Health and Wellbeing initiative, which will build a more robust and supportive mental health culture on each UT campus. Mental health professionals will meet to recommend best practices for ensuring student mental health and wellness, and will identify necessary steps toward becoming a national leader in supporting student wellbeing.
Launching the first phase of the Oak Ridge Institute is also a goal for Boyd in 2020. This phase will include recruiting new faculty members and about 50 new graduate students as well as exploring the acquisition of a facility to house the institute.
“There have been some incredibly successful decades in UT history. To say this next decade will be the greatest in UT’s history is a bold, audacious statement,” Boyd said. “But all that has come before has provided us the foundation on which to build. Today, we have the resources talent and will to make it happen. 2020 will be the first step in the journey, and I cannot wait to get started.”
About UT Promise
UT Promise is a new undergraduate scholarship program guaranteeing free tuition and mandatory fees for qualifying Tennessee residents attending UT’s campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga, Martin and Memphis. UT Promise is a student-success oriented scholarship program that requires students to complete volunteer service hours and meet with a volunteer mentor each semester to ensure a successful student experience.
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