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Sunset behind the Student Union. Photo by Andrew Kochamba.

The UT Board of Trustees approved a $1.246 billion budget for the 2019–20 fiscal year Friday as well as a 2 percent tuition increase for UT Knoxville—one of the lowest tuition increases in the university’s history. This is the fifth consecutive year the university has held tuition increases at or below 3 percent.

“We are grateful to the governor and the General Assembly for their support, which has allowed us to continue to keep our tuition increases low while providing our students with a world-class education,” said Wayne T. Davis, interim chancellor. “This will allow us to continue the tremendous momentum we’ve experienced in recent years with record enrollments, graduation rates, and campus upgrades.”

The budget passed by trustees today will allow the new chancellor to implement her vision for the future, Davis said. Donde Plowman will assume the chancellor’s position July 1.

“Dr. Plowman is a proven leader who understands the value that UT provides the state of Tennessee,” Davis said. “Serving as interim chancellor has been a tremendous honor, and I look forward to continuing to support the university and Dr. Plowman after my retirement.”

The board approved an increase to the student program and services fee of $26 per student. The fee is used to support student services, activities, programs, and facilities under the direction of the Division of Student Life. The library fee is increasing by $10. Additional fee increases apply to specific graduate programs to cover increased operating costs.

UT System Interim President Randy Boyd made two major proposals, which were also approved by the board:

  • Aligning the UT Institute of Agriculture with UT Knoxville to fully leverage statewide and national presence. The enhanced partnership will foster a culture of greater collaboration and increase the university’s national reputation and research rankings.
  • Creating the Oak Ridge Institute at UT Knoxville to allow a coordinated expansion of graduate education programs to prepare the next generation of scientists and engineers for a global economy.

The board also took the following actions:

  • Established a new academic unit, the School of Design, to be housed in the College of Architecture and Design, effective August 2019
  • Approved granting an honorary doctorate in natural resources from the Herbert College of Agriculture to Bill Dance and an honorary doctorate in social work from the College of Social Work to Theotis Robinson Jr.
  • Honored UT Knoxville Interim Chancellor Wayne T. Davis with a resolution in recognition of his long and distinguished service to the university

UT’s 2019–20 budget includes $7.5 million in capital maintenance for fire safety upgrades and an additional $11.8 million in recurring state appropriations. Of that, $7.5 million will go toward a 2 percent salary pool for faculty and staff pay increases. The pool will be used for merit and market raises. Any employee earning $40,000 and below will receive a minimum of $800 and be eligible for a merit increase based on performance.


Tyra Haag (865-974-5460,