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On Tuesday, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Chancellor Donde Plowman delivered her third annual flagship address. Each fall, Plowman brings the campus community together to reflect on shared accomplishments and look forward to the year ahead.

She began her remarks by discussing recent successes—including back-to-back years of record undergraduate classes, enrolling the largest student body in the university’s history; being named a top 10 employer in the state by Forbes; setting a record for student scholarships thanks to more than 51,000 alumni and friends; cheering on 16 of 20 athletic teams who competed in postseason play last spring; and growing and developing important research partnerships with Volkswagen, Eastman, the US Army, AT&T, and more—all during one of the most challenging times in modern history.

“I am in awe of our campus community’s resilience and courage over the past 18 months and prouder than ever to be a Tennessee Volunteer,” she said.

But Plowman reiterated that the accomplishments from the past year are not what sets the university apart.

“Our spirit, our leadership, our courage, the confidence we have in the values that guide us, and our willingness to lean into those values in support and service of others—that is what sets us apart. It is infused into how we approach our work, our studies, and our research.”


A New Strategic Vision

Plowman shared an overview of the university’s new strategic vision during the address, which she will present in greater detail to the Board of Trustees for approval next month. More than 800 people across campus, including students, faculty, and staff, had a hand in crafting the vision—whether on a committee, attending feedback sessions, or providing comments on drafts.

“Our vision statement reflects the aspirations of our community—A world enriched by our ideas, improved through action, and inspired by the Volunteer spirit of service and leadership.

“What I love about this vision is it is ideas and action wrapped in our Volunteer values of service and leadership,” she said after the speech.

The five goals within the new vision include: cultivating the Volunteer experience; conducting research that makes life and lives better; ensuring a culture where Vol is a Verb; making ourselves nimble and adaptable; and embodying the modern R1, land-grant university.

“At the end of the day, what I want our trustees—and what I want you—to take away is not the definition of individual metrics but the transformational change we will make together through this work,” Plowman said. “I want all of us to be inspired by the potential of this university and all the good we want to do in the world.”

At the conclusion of the event, the UT Singers performed the alma mater and “Rocky Top.” Campus community members then enjoyed an outdoor celebration and lunch on the Student Union Plaza.

The full recording and transcript of Plowman’s Flagship Address is available online.


Tyra Haag (865-974-5460,