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Boyd Launches Be One UT Values in Annual State of the University Address

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UT President Randy Boyd delivers his annual State of the University Address

KNOXVILLE—University of Tennessee President Randy Boyd announced the new Be One UT values that will guide the University into its greatest decade in history during his third annual State of the University of Tennessee Address, delivered virtually earlier this morning.

“The past year has been one of unprecedented challenges, but it did not defeat us, rather, it defined us,” Boyd said. “In all 95 counties, the University of Tennessee System has come together seeing this time as an opportunity to dig deep and redefine our values; to remember our mission of serving every Tennessean; to explore novel ways of delivering classes, services and assistance; to see how we can bridge gaps, fill voids, find solutions and improve life in our great state.”



Joined by systemwide leaders in the prerecorded speech broadcast on the UT System’s website due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the remarks highlighted accomplishments from the past year and detailed statewide projects that embody the new values.

The Be One UT values were created—with faculty, staff and student input—to define what UT is and should strive toward in the next decade. The following seven values define Be One UT:


  • Bold and impactful: Serving the state by tackling grand challenges
  • Embrace diversity: Respecting individual and organizational uniqueness that makes all stronger


  • Optimistic and visionary: Empowering courageous leadership
  • Nimble and innovative: Inspiring creative and transformational action
  • Excel in all we do: Committing to continuous improvement and outstanding performance


  • United and connected: Collaborating internally and externally for greater collective impact
  • Transparent and trusted: Fostering integrity through openness, accountability and stewardship


Boyd and leaders from across the system—UT Martin Chancellor Keith Carver, UT Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman, UT Health Science Center Chancellor Steve Schwab, Oak Ridge National Lab Director Thomas Zacharia, UT Institute of Agriculture Senior Vice President Tim Cross, UT Chattanooga Chancellor Steve Angle—spoke about each value and projects that embodying the value.

Boyd described the bold and impactful step UT is taking in the potential acquisition of Martin Methodist College, which pending all necessary approvals, will become UT Southern, the first new UT campus in 50 years. This will bring public higher education to an otherwise underrepresented area of the state.

“Education is the key to our state’s growth and success,” Boyd said. “That’s why the UT System is taking a bold and impactful step to acquire Martin Methodist College and increase access to affordable higher education for all Tennesseans.”

Carver stressed UT’s priority of embracing diversity and spoke about the UT Institute for Public Service Law Enforcement Innovation Center’s (LEIC) Cultural Competency and Policing program’s work to minimize biased-based policing in law enforcement. LEIC worked with the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles to create a national certification program for law enforcement agencies across Tennessee and nationwide. The program, which began this spring training all UT police officers and will expand to all law enforcement officers across the state, seeks to increase diversity in law enforcement and examine perceptions, stereotypes and cultural assumptions.

The importance of getting outside has never been more apparent than the past year, Plowman said as she described the optimistic and visionary Tennessee RiverLine project. The 652-mile RiverLine will connect Tennessee River towns from Knoxville to Paducah, Kentucky, and build opportunities for all Tennesseans to hike, bike, kayak, canoe and connect with the outdoors. The RiverLine will increase community connectedness and become an economic catalyst.

Nimble and innovative accurately describe UT’s response to COVID-19. Schwab recounted the numerous ways UT responded to COVID-19, including large-scale testing facilities, call centers, treatment testing and more. Zacharia added numerous additional efforts, including the research Oak Ridge National Lab is currently conducting to improve at-home testing methods, studies surrounding the economic impact of the virus, COVID-19 history projects, vaccination clinics and more.

As one way UT strives to excel, Cross detailed the current work to support education for the nearly 1 million K-12 students in Tennessee.

“Training teachers and administrators – especially those in rural and underserved areas – are among the most significant ways UT serves our state,” Cross said.

Cross conveyed multiple efforts to provide educational support, including UT Knoxville’s Vols Teach for Appalachia program and UT Martin’s WestTeach and “Call Me MiSTER” programs. Cross also outlined the UT Knoxville Center for Educational Leadership’s partnership with the state education department to lead the 2020 Tennessee Rural Principals Network, which provided a year-long professional development program for 54 rural school principals across the state.

While the pandemic physically separated many, Angle described the emphasis UT places on becoming united and connected such as the current work to expand broadband access to underserved rural communities across Tennessee. UT Martin, the Institute for Public Service and the UT Knoxville Herbert College of Agriculture are all working to expand internet access initiatives.

Transparent and trusted are vital elements of all these endeavors. Boyd detailed the importance of the Transparent UT initiative he launched at the beginning of his presidency to build trust.

“Going forward, we want to live and breathe these values,” Boyd said. “Our UT family is more excited and more prepared than it’s ever been to move forward and help shape a better future.”

More information on the values can be found at

The archived webcast and information on the initiatives mentioned in the address are available to view at


Melissa Tindell

Jennifer Sicking

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Category: Headlines