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A portrait of Tom Cruise, Program Coordinator for the Veterans Success Center,

Thomas Cruise, assistant director of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Veterans Success Center, has been named a 2022 Veteran Champion of the Year in higher education by G.I. Jobs magazine.

The annual award pays tribute to those who have gone above and beyond in supporting student veterans across America’s college campuses. Cruise, an Air Force veteran and two-time UT alumnus, was one of 22 recipients honored this year.

“It is an honor to be recognized among these incredible individuals who support our veteran community. Since experiencing firsthand the challenges of postmilitary life, I have shaped those challenges into opportunities to support veterans in every way I can,” said Cruise.

In his role, Cruise assists more than 1,400 student veterans and military connected students on campus and spearheads several programs, including veteran-specific sections of orientation and a class for students transitioning to UT, Green Zone military cultural competency training for the campus community, and the Veteran Impact Program, which provides academic and professional programming, resources and support to student veterans—all aimed at bridging any gaps between military life and college life. Cruise also implemented the “Dog Tag Dialogue” podcast, which provides news and information to help Vol student veterans achieve success in the classroom, on campus and in the community.

“The incredible progress and transformative experiences achieved by the Veterans Success Center at UT are made possible by the exceptional work of Thomas Cruise,” said Amber Williams, vice provost for Student Success. “His strong work ethic and humble character have proven to be an invaluable part of making UT a better, more supportive place for student veterans. All-in-all, he couldn’t be more deserving of this recognition.”

UT ranks among the top 50 public universities for veterans and is recognized as a Military Friendly School and Military Friendly Spouse School. The university welcomed one of its largest groups of incoming student veterans this fall.

Learn more about Cruise and his role supporting UT student veterans.


Cindi King (865-974-0937,

Lacey Smithson Wood (865-974-8578,