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In 1867, by resolution of the US Congress, Tennessee became eligible to designate an institution to teach areas of learning related to agriculture and the mechanic arts and to receive the proceeds from the sale of federal land as prescribed by the Morrill Act of 1862.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has entered into a collaborative partnership with two regional postsecondary institutions: Knoxville College and Tennessee College of Applied Technology Knoxville. Strengthened by a letter of intent in the summer of 2020, the partnership reinforces UT’s commitment to connect the university’s knowledge and resources with the community in mutually beneficial ways. As the state’s flagship land-grant university and a community-engaged institution recognized by the Carnegie Foundation, UT seeks to create and sustain empowering partnerships.

“UT is excited to partner with KC and TCAT to build capacity to support critical educational pathways in our community. This is an opportunity to leverage all of our collective resources to impact education in a real and meaningful way,” said Tyvi Small, UT’s vice chancellor for diversity and engagement.

Rooted in equity and reciprocity, the partnership sparks the possibility of great opportunities that will continue to make higher education more accessible to all citizens in the region. Driven by three areas of impact—infrastructure, community engagement, and specialty programs—the institutions will work to create an educational pathway from a technical certificate to an associate’s degree and the many degree offerings at UT.

A series of community engagement initiatives and workshops for students at each institution is under way. As a national leader in digital collections, UT Libraries will provide TCAT and KC students with access to enhance their academic experience. UT will help support the accreditation process of Knoxville College, the area’s only historically Black college or university.

“This strategic partnership with like institutions and like ideas is the catalyst for an educational–technical collective impact model serving youth and adults at all levels. We will put words to action as we educate, empower, and elevate our shared students and the Black experience in Knoxville,” said Leonard Adams, Knoxville College interim president.

With proximity to UT and its high research activity and highly ranked programs, the partnership has the potential to inspire students such those in TCAT’s Fiber Optics program to advance their education at UT.

“TCAT Knoxville is pleased to be part of this partnership because of the opportunities it provides our students and all the students of the Knoxville area, including access to the UT Libraries and especially the potential pathway from a technical certificate to the many degree offerings at UT. The technical education that our students receive is an excellent foundation for continued studies toward a bachelor’s degree and beyond. We have always worked together, but we are deeply appreciative of UT and Knoxville College for this enhanced partnership,” said Kelli Chaney, TCAT president.

Leading the collaboration are Knoxville College Interim President Leonard Adams, TCAT Vice President Patrick Wade, UT Assistant Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Engagement Javiette Samuel, and Knoxville College Chief Operating Officer Dasha Lundy.


Tyra Haag (865-974-5460,