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It’s officially Welcome Week, and students have the chance to attend more than forty events through Friday, August 19, to kick off the first week of classes. The weeklong celebration is an annual tradition and serves as a way for our students to get settled into life on campus and make connections with other students, faculty, and staff.

Last night, new students participated in the ninety-one-year-old tradition of Torch Night at Thompson-Boling Arena. The university’s newest Vols heard from Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek, Vice Chancellor for Student Life Vince Carilli, Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Life and Dean of Students Melissa Shivers, and Student Government Association President Carson Hollingsworth, who gave them advice and encouragement for their next four years at the university.


Thousands of candles were lit as Hollingsworth symbolically passed down the Torch of Preparation to the freshmen class through first-year representative Rachel Carmella. After the ceremony, students were treated to the new student picnic and a pep rally from the Pride of the Southland pep band, cheerleaders, and dance team, at the Humanities and Social Sciences Amphitheater.

Students, along with members of the campus and Knoxville communities, will gather at 5:30 p.m. today in Thompson-Boling Arena to hear from astronaut and alumnus Scott Kelly during the annual Life of the Mind event. The event will be a discussion between Kelly and UT Associate Professor of English Margaret Lazarus Dean, who authored this year’s Life of the Mind freshman reading selection, Leaving Orbit: Notes from the Last Days of American Spaceflight. UT faculty and staff can pick up tickets for the free event in the First-Year Studies Office located in Greve Hall Room 217.

Other Welcome Week highlights include Volunteers Speak UP! training sessions, the Multicultural Student Life welcome back celebration, the Student Engagement Fair, Welcome Student Veterans, Experience KnoxVOL, the International House Beyond Borders Dance Party, SGA Presents Slap the Rock, and Vol Night Long.

For a full schedule of the week’s events, visit the Welcome Week website.