Igniting the Greatest Decade

Category: Column

Last week I delivered my second State of the University of Tennessee address, an annual report to communicate how our system is performing, highlight some of our key accomplishments and share a vision for the coming year.

Instead of just looking ahead to the coming year, we are looking ahead to the coming decade. Our goal is simple: To make this the greatest decade in history of the University of Tennessee. We don’t mean any disrespect to those who came before us. In fact, we owe it to them; they expect us to build on the foundation they’ve provided.

In order to make this the greatest decade in UT history, we must continually seek ways to honor our land-grant mission by making our universities accessible to all who wish to achieve their dream of earning a college degree. We don’t want to measure ourselves by who we exclude; we want to measure ourselves by who we include.

One key component to fostering an environment of inclusivity is the UT Promise, our new undergraduate scholarship program that guarantees free tuition and mandatory fees for qualifying Tennessee residents attending UT’s campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga, Martin and Memphis. To date, more than 7,100 people have applied for UT Promise, which will welcome its first class of students in fall 2020.

At the State of UT address, I encouraged our attendees to sign up to be a UT Promise mentor. The concept is simple: UT Promise students are paired with mentors who help guide them through the transition to university life and beyond. I believe this is the most important part of the UT Promise scholarship. I was the first to sign up, and our chancellors have followed suit. 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.

UT Promise mentors are 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.

We are anticipating great things for UT in the coming years. We will build on our enrollment growth and degrees awarded. We will make significant progress in the areas of mental health and awareness. The establishment of the Oak Ridge Institute at UT will be the biggest endeavor in science in the state of Tennessee since the Manhattan Project.

Finally, we will continually ask the State and the people of Tennessee what our universities can do to better serve them in addressing our state’s grand challenges. From taking a lead role in addressing our state’s opioid crisis to research that will improve the lives of countless Tennesseans, the University of Tennessee stands ready to serve our communities through the combined force of education, research and outreach.

I invite you to join me as we work together to make this the greatest decade in UT history. Our work starts now.



Randy Boyd

Randy Boyd
Interim President – The University of Tennessee System



Note: To view the complete State of UT address by Interim President Randy Boyd, please visit news.tennessee.edu/boyd-delivers-second-state-of-ut-address/.


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