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Chancellor Plowman delivers Flagship Address at Natalie L. Haslam Music Center
Chancellor Plowman delivers Flagship Address at Natalie L. Haslam Music Center on September 29, 2022. Photo by Steven Bridges/University of Tennessee.

Chancellor Donde Plowman delivered her fourth annual flagship address Thursday, bringing the campus together to reflect on shared achievements and look forward to the year ahead.

In her speech, Plowman said the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is a “a university on the rise,” and called on the campus community to use the momentum from historic successes to meet challenges facing higher education.

UT has enrolled the largest student body on record for the second straight year, is expecting to announce a record year in research expenditures, and received an unprecedented amount of support from the state, alumni and friends. Plowman also recognized the hard work of faculty and students who received prestigious awards and fellowships along with the successes of athletics on and off the field.

“Consider all we have achieved together. You should be proud. I am proud,” she said. “Three years ago, I stood in front of you and said momentum alone will not carry us into the future we want. That is just as true today as it was then.”

Plowman described looming challenges in the ever-changing landscape of higher education: a decline in the number of high school graduates, an erosion in public trust toward institutions of higher education, changes in the economy and its needs, and polarization in our society.

“Our solutions for these disruptions are supported by our strategic vision. We will meet them with the creativity, boldness, courage, and leadership of Volunteers.”

Plowman described a way forward that includes creating more pathways for students to reach the university and achieve a degree, including a Volunteer experience rooted in student success; expanded online learning opportunities; creating innovative degree programs that respond to workforce needs; investing in collaborative research and innovation; and fostering civility.

“The University of Tennessee is full of some of the greatest thinkers and doers, innovators and leaders that I have ever encountered,” she said. “That’s how I know that we will not only meet the challenges ahead, but we will embrace them and blaze the trail forward together.”

A full recording and transcript of Plowman’s Flagship Address will be available online.


Tyra Haag (865-974-5460,

Makayla Puckett (865-974-3242,