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University of Tennessee System Sets Enrollment Record for Third Consecutive Year

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Randy Boyd, John Compton, Bill Rhodes

Knoxville—For the third consecutive year the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees is celebrating record-breaking enrollment for the UT System.

The UT System boasted an all-time high enrollment of 53,983 students for 2021, representing a 2.7% increase above the previous year.  Additionally, both undergraduate as well as graduate and professional enrollment grew at record levels, increasing 2.5 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively.

“This is encouraging news, given that college and university enrollment is declining more than 3 percent across the country,” UT Board of Trustees Chair John Compton said.  “We have proven for the third consecutive year that we are far exceeding national trends.  The hard work, focus and diligence of our faculty and staff—even amidst a global pandemic—is inspiring and paying tremendous dividends.”

Additionally, freshmen enrollment continues to rise.  Since 2017, freshmen enrollment has increased 14.7 percent, and this year UT Knoxville is celebrating the largest incoming freshman class in its history with 5,948 students (representing a 7.9 percent increase from 2020).  For the UT System, four-year and six-year graduation rates also continued to increase.


Other key highlights from the Board of Trustees meeting include:

  • Approval of the UT Knoxville and UT Chattanooga’s strategic plans.
  • Announcement to raise the household income from $50,000 to $60,000 for eligibility for the UT Promise scholarship.
  • Adoption of a resolution honoring the service of Tim Cross.  Since 1994, Cross has served the University of Tennessee and the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) as an associate professor, professor, dean of UT Extension, and as the leader of UTIA since 2016.  He was also bestowed Chancellor Emeritus status.
  • Announcement of plans to request the Tennessee General Assembly’s support of legislation that may provide in-state tuition to military-affiliated individuals regardless of residency.
  • Announcement to raise the minimum wage of UT Knoxville employees to $15 per hour, effective January 2022.
  • Approval of a new Master of Science program in Sport Coaching and Performance at UT Martin.
  • Approved the naming the renovated UT Knoxville College of Nursing facility the “Croley Nursing Building” after UT Knoxville nursing alumna Sara Croley and her husband Ross. Their gift will be the largest in the College of Nursing’s history.
  • Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program for UT Knoxville faculty who meet the eligibility criteria as of June 30, 2022.
  • Updates regarding the university’s endowment performance, including $66 million in new gifts for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2021.
  • Information regarding standardized testing in admissions.
  • Update on lecturer pay at UT Knoxville.


To access materials and archived video from the board meetings, please visit  To access images from the UT Board of Trustees meetings, please visit


Melissa Tindell

Jennifer Sicking

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Category: Headlines