KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The “no vacancy” sign is out at University of Tennessee-Knoxville residence halls this fall.
Housing officials report all 7,100 spaces in UT’s 13 halls are filled, and there is a short waiting list of students seeking on-campus housing. An increase in the number of freshmen is largely responsible for the housing shortage.
Students will start moving into the dorms Saturday, Aug. 21. Classes begin Wednesday, Aug. 25.
Between 4,100 and 4,200 first-time freshmen are expected to enroll this fall, Dr. Bill Snyder, UT-Knoxville chancellor, said. Last year, 3,806 first-time freshmen entered UT-Knoxville. Total enrollment is expected to be approximately 26,000.
Record attendance at Summer Orientation also points to a larger freshman class.
While UT officials ponder a range of reasons for the increase, there is no doubt that UT-Knoxville is the university of choice for more students and their parents, Snyder said.
In the fall of 1994 freshman enrollment was under 3,000 students. The next year, it jumped by 500 and has grown gradually since.
Population trends, national recognition as one of the nation’s top 50 public universities, better recruiting of high ability students, more scholarships, and national sports championships are cited as possible reasons for the enrollment increase.
Dr. John Peters, provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs, said it is most likely a combination of all of the above.
“More students and their parents, both in Tennessee and in other states, are aware that the returns on their educational investments are high. Even when you factor in this year’s tuition increase, the cost of a UTK education is still well below average for our peer institutions,” he said.
“There are many factors that go into the decision of choosing a college, but there is no doubt UTK is on the final list of an increasing number of outstanding students.”
Maintenance fees were raised 15 percent this fall for all students, and out-of-state tuition went up 20 percent. An undergraduate student from Tennessee will pay $1,552 per semester, up $180 from last year.
Snyder said raising tuition and fees or letting academic quality and student services erode were the only options for UT administrators and the board of trustees since UT-Knoxville received no new operating funds from the state. Comments by parents and in-coming students at Summer Orientation confirm the decision to raise fees, Snyder said.
When students are settled into their residence halls and apartments, have bought textbooks and supplies, they will have time to explore the changes that have occurred on campus since spring semester.
One addition they will find is a new eatery in the University Center. “The Rocky Top Grill” has replaced “The Rafters.”
The Grill has a “food court” environment and offers expanded bakery offerings, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and more specialty coffees from Starbucks. Pizza, burgers and deli sandwiches are still available.
Two new structures will catch the eyes of those who were away for the summer.
The exterior of the Burchfiel Geography Building, across from the University Center, is nearly complete. The “Jumbotron” TV screen towers now over the south end of Neyland Stadium.
The sports “bubble” has been moved from Volunteer Boulevard to a location near the physical education building on Andy Holt Avenue. The renovation of Claxton Education Building continues.
After moving into their dorms and apartments, students will find it difficult to choose from a full schedule of “Welcome Week” activities planned by the student affairs office.
Sorority recruitment starts Saturday, Aug. 21, with orientation. Fraternity rush begins the following weekend. In between are concerts, pool parties and recreational sports opportunities.
The Black Cultural Center has an open house and tour of Knoxville scheduled for Sunday afternoon, Aug. 22. The annual freshman picnic is set for 5:30 p.m., Aug. 22, at Circle Park.
Those interested in community service can meet with Team VOLS Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 24, at the University Center to explore volunteer work at the Boys and Girls Club of Knoxville and Second Harvest Food Bank.