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UT Admissions has declared Monday’s Declaration Day live broadcast—a first-of-its-kind event celebrating the May 1 college confirmation deadline—a huge success.

The hour-long program celebrated the campus and students who are choosing to come to UT in the fall.

“It’s our national signing day,” said Kari Alldredge, vice provost for enrollment management. “We wanted to take this idea that Athletics has done . . . and celebrate all of our five-star recruits with the same energy and excitement that we celebrate student athletes, because we have some amazing students coming here in the fall.”

The program, hosted by Tennessee Titans announcer Mike Keith, was broadcast live online from UT’s Ray and Lucy Hand Digital Studio. Nearly 840 people watched it on YouTube and more than 3,471 watched it on Facebook Live.

The broadcast can be viewed in its entirety here.

The show featured several students who will be coming to UT in the fall. Among those: Xavier Grace of Memphis. A video explained how Grace was abandoned as a toddler, rescued by his cousin, and subsequently adopted and raised by single mom Kim Grace. Xavier Grace, who aims for a career in chemical engineering, appeared live on the broadcast with his family and said being accepted to UT “is my life-changing moment.”

He was then presented with a laptop by UT basketball player Kyle Alexander.

The show also featured a group of incoming freshmen from Gatlinburg Pittman High school whose families were affected by the wildfires. UT Admissions had traveled to Gatlinburg after the wildfires to meet with admitted students and replace admissions items lost in the disaster.

“The university reached out to us and they brought us all new admissions letters and the Volunteers singing cards for people who may have lost them during the fires,” said incoming freshman Sydney McKay. “The Volunteer family reached out to our family and really helped us during that time.”

The show featured live and videotaped messages about the university from current students, faculty, and UT Admissions staff.

New Chancellor Beverly Davenport called in during the broadcast, explaining what she—like the record number of incoming students—is excited to be part of the university.

“I think, like them, I wanted to be part of this Power T. There is something special about Rocky Top,” she said. “This is my class. We are starting together.”

UT quarterback Josh Dobbs, who graduates next week and was just drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers, contributed a video message.

“The next four years of your life will fly by,” he said. “But if you’re like me, they’ll be the best years of your life.”


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,