In 2022, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, experienced a momentum like no other. From student and program successes to athletics teams igniting the polls, the Volunteer community embodied Chancellor Donde Plowman’s message of a university on the rise.
UT began the semester a little later than in previous years as the winter mini-term was introduced as an opportunity for students to catch up or even get ahead by offering an entire course within a three-week period. Students returned to campus and participated in a variety of events remembering Martin Luther King Jr.
In celebration of a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, on Feb. 22 —2/22/22 — UT hosted a day of tacos, traditions and Ts. More than 200 hidden Power Ts were scattered around 30 landmark locations on campus, including Ayres Hall and Circle Park. Each included interesting facts about the university and its traditions. The annual MLK Jr. Days of Service event was transformed with an extended two-week service experience that engaged the entire campus community. More than 550 students, faculty and staff signed up to create more than 75 small groups that volunteered in the greater Knoxville area.
A fleet of food delivery service robots arrived on Rocky Top to shuttle treats from 16 campus eateries to Volunteers all across campus. The College of Communication and Information and Knoxville-based advertising agency Tombras announced a partnership to create a first-of-its-kind landmark program and investment plan to modernize and expand advertising and public relations education. The college unveiled the newly named Tombras School of Advertising and Public Relations, which is the first named school at UT and the first of its kind in the SEC. Jack Dongarra, Distinguished Professor of Computer Science in the Tickle College of Engineering and Distinguished Research Staff Member at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, received the 2021 A. M. Turing Award from the Association of Computing Machinery, often referred to as the Nobel Prize of computing.
The university’s reach extended beyond the state in April as UT opened its first out-of-state research office: the UT Space Institute Huntsville Research Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The Institute for Advanced Materials and Manufacturing was launched for faculty and students pursuing a wide range of fundamental and applied research addressing real-world problems.
The spring semester wrapped up inside Thompson-Boling Arena with graduate hooding and undergraduate commencement ceremonies. Keynote speakers at the three ceremonies were Tamika Catchings, Lady Vol for Life and WNBA legend; Sharon Price John, president and CEO of Build-a-Bear Workshop; and Joy Harjo, the 23rd poet laureate of the United States and internationally renowned performer and writer of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
The Vols baseball team saw a historic season securing the program’s fourth SEC tournament championship. Their journey to Omaha as the top-ranked team came to a bitter end as they were eliminated from the NCAA championship following a loss during the super regionals.
Carrie Castille, senior vice chancellor and senior vice president for the UT Institute of Agriculture, joined the university and got right to work traveling the state with Chancellor Donde Plowman and UT System President Randy Boyd. Members of VolWake showed off tricks on the Tennessee River. A record number of donors committed more than $264 million to enhance educational opportunities and provide the resources students need to succeed.
A record number of Vols started back for the fall 2022 semester in August, driven by both an increase in new students and a record number returning for their sophomore year. The new students gathered in Thompson-Boling Arena for Torch Night, a rite of passage for incoming Volunteers. The university’s new dean of students, Byron Hughes, joined in on the celebratory event. The Division of Student Success launched the Veteran Impact Program to provide student veterans with academic and professional programming, resources and support in navigating the transition from the military to university studies. A longstanding relationship between Eastman and UT took a leap forward as leaders dedicated the Eastman Innovation Center on campus and outlined joint initiatives with the potential for far-reaching economic and environmental impact.
First Lady Jill Biden and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visited Rocky Top to celebrate Tennessee’s Grow Your Own teacher pipeline program, launched earlier in the year by the Tennessee Department of Education and the UT System. The Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy launched “You Might Be Right,” a podcast series hosted by former Tennessee governors Phil Bredesen and Bill Haslam. Construction broke ground on the new Croley Nursing Building, which will help to meet the growing demand for nurses in Tennessee and beyond. The football team welcomed Florida for their first at-home SEC match up. The much-anticipated game drew College GameDay to campus, and the victory lead to the Vols first top-ten ranking since 2016. The month rounded out with the dedication of the Armed Forces Memorial, which honors the sacrifice of students, faculty, and staff from all UT System campuses who died in the line of duty while in military service to the United States.
The football team’s monumental season continued in October as they welcomed College GameDay to town for the second time and took down Alabama for the first time since 2006. Alumni returned to Rocky Top for homecoming with a theme of Salute to Smokey to honor Smokey X for his service to the university and the debut of Smokey XI. The homecoming parade included grand marshals Drew and Ellie Holcomb.
The club rugby team claimed its third consecutive Southeastern Collegiate Rugby Conference championship. The Division of Student Success celebrated first-generation students as a part of a nationwide initiative to recognize the success of first-gen students and highlight the support and resources available to them. A team of students from the Tickle College of Engineering took first place in the inaugural SEC Machining Competition.
ESPN named the Rocky Top Rowdies the Live Más Student Section of the Year at the 32nd annual College Football Awards Show. The semester concluded with graduate hooding and undergraduate commencement ceremonies to celebrate fall 2022 graduates in Thompson-Boling Arena. Former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam addressed graduates as the keynote speaker. A special degree was awarded to Ron Stephens, who left to serve in Vietnam after graduating from UT in 1968 and was unable to attend his graduation ceremony.
Lindsey Owen (865-974-6375, firstname.lastname@example.org)