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An artist’s rendering shows a future residential community on Caledonia Avenue that will be built through a public-private partnership.

From building infrastructure to parking strategies, supporting academics and research, and recruiting and retaining top talent, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is creating capacity on campus to accommodate growth, spark innovation and deliver the Volunteer experience.

Students want to be a part of what the university has to offer, and when they come to campus they succeed. Increased interest from prospective students and a record percentage of first-year students returning for their sophomore year — 91% in fall 2023 — have allowed the university to keep investing in its campus.

“To meet our vision of educating more Tennesseans and building the state’s future workforce, we must invest in our campus,” said Chancellor Donde Plowman. “That means both building more capacity and creating the kind of dynamic and supportive learning environment that will help our students succeed.”

Investing in people

To support student growth and innovative course offerings, the university added 156 new faculty members at UT Knoxville and the UT Institute of Agriculture from fall 2022 to fall 2023 and is currently on track for strong faculty hiring next year.

The university is implementing a cluster hiring initiative to build capacity for transdisciplinary research and education across seven areas of excellence at UT, accelerating discovery and innovation in these spaces and creating new educational programs in high-demand areas. This $50 million investment focuses UT’s resources and talent to address societal grand challenges affecting Tennessee and beyond, with downstream benefits for our workforce, our industries, and our communities.

UT Knoxville and UTIA added 578 staff members from fall 2022 to fall 2023. Staff supports students outside of the classroom in a variety of ways from providing guidance about financial aid resources to creating experiences that make UT feel like home and keeping buildings and grounds clean and welcoming.

New residential communities

Construction is underway on two new residential communities that will add approximately 1,900 beds to the university’s housing inventory, which currently has about 8,500 beds. The residence halls are being built through a public-private partnership and are expected to open for the fall 2025 semester. The project will allow the university to more quickly meet the increased need for student housing due to growing enrollment and more students seeking to stay on campus longer.

An artist’s rendering shows the exterior of the future residential community that will be built along Andy Holt Avenue.

The first phase of the project includes developments at two sites. The first, at the intersection of Andy Holt Avenue and 20th Street, will feature a residence hall with about 750 beds. The second, a two-building housing complex with approximately 1,150 beds, will be built between Caledonia Avenue and Terrace Avenue.

Phase 2 of the initial public-private partnership project, subject to appropriate approvals, will include a residential community at the intersection of Lake Loudoun and Volunteer Boulevards.

The university is in the first year of a five-year master release agreement with Lakemoor Station Apartments in South Knoxville to provide additional housing for students.

The university continues to support the City of Knoxville in its proposed south waterfront pedestrian bridge spanning the Tennessee River. If developed, the bridge will help spur additional economic growth on the south waterfront, connect people to downtown Knoxville, make the campus more accessible to those who live in South Knoxville, and connect the campus to entertainment and outdoor amenities on the south side of the river.

Expanding physical capacity

A new student success building will be constructed in the footprint of Melrose Hall and is expected to open in 2027.

A future building in the footprint of Melrose Hall will house the Division of Student Success, Student Disability Services, classrooms, academic and special event space. It is expected to open in 2027.

The physical space will help the Division of Student Success continue its work to retain a talented and diverse student body, connecting students with resources to be successful in and out of the classroom and preparing them for the workforce.

The building will also house Student Disability Services, five classrooms, and other academic and event spaces. Student Disability Services is temporarily housed in Blount Hall, where its testing center has almost doubled in size. Capacity will grow again when SDS moves into the new building.

Renovations are underway at the Frieson Black Cultural Center, which houses Multicultural Student Life. The university will also be moving forward, pending state approval, to expand the center.

Planning for renovation of the Presidential Courtyard Building will begin in late spring 2024. The renovated building will include new offices for the Division of Student Life, a basic needs center, a mail and packaging center for residential students, and meeting spaces.

The Energy and Environmental Science Research Building on the UT Institute of Agriculture campus is expected to open in fall 2024.

The Energy and Environmental Science Research Building on the UT Institute of Agriculture campus is expected to open for classes in the fall 2024 semester. The five-story building includes 25 labs, 11 classrooms, 500 seat auditorium, and green roof that will also be a learning lab maintained by UTIA students.

The four-story Croley Nursing Building is taking shape at the corner of Volunteer Boulevard and Peyton Manning Pass. The construction focus is shifting to the exterior envelope of the building following the completion of the concrete structure. The new building is on track to open in fall 2025. Features include classrooms, simulation labs, research labs and offices. The new building will allow the college to increase enrollment significantly, which will help train more nurses and address the nationwide nursing shortage.

An artist rendering shows the expanded Haslam College of Business, which is expected to open in fall 2027.

A new building to expand the Haslam College of Business is expected to open in fall 2027. The state-of-the-art facility will serve as a model to promote collaboration, attract top talent and address the continued growth in the college’s nationally ranked programs. Demolition work to prepare the site for construction is expected to begin in spring 2024.

The university has received permission to self-fund the planning of a new chemistry building and is working to secure funding for the plan to move forward.

Planning is underway for an interdisciplinary classroom and humanities building on Volunteer Boulevard along the south end of the Humanities and Social Sciences Building and east of the Art and Architecture Building. The new building will include about three dozen classrooms.

The university is modernizing how it brings faculty and students together with industry to accelerate innovation and discovery. Through new spaces and collaborations, the university is able to engage with industry partners on real-world problems, provide unique education opportunities for students, help businesses meet their workforce needs, and ultimately support the growth of economic prosperity in Tennessee and beyond.

Construction at the Innovation South building at the UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm is expected to finish in October 2024. UT will lease about 39,000 square feet for the new expanded home of the Fibers and Composites Manufacturing Facility and other materials-based research. Other tenants will include the new headquarters for IACMI—The Composites Institute, a 130-plus-member consortium of companies largely focused on the composites manufacturing sector. The expanded FCMF will provide a front door for industry partners to collaborate with UT faculty and students to quickly turn advanced materials and manufacturing research into new products that strengthen and grow Tennessee’s innovation economy.

The state-of-the-art simulation and lab space at the UT Research Center at Cherokee Farm is used to help train students in the Nursing Scholars Program.

A state-of-the-art simulation and learning lab at the UT Research Park supports the Nursing Scholars Program, a partnership between the College of Nursing and UT Medical Center that opened in fall 2023. Students in the program attend class and complete clinical rotations at UTMC with access to the lab and simulation center. The program expands access to education and meets industry and workforce needs.

Academic units and programs

The university’s three new academic units, launched in July 2023, are expanding opportunities for students and helping serve the state of Tennessee and beyond. The elevation of the College of Music raises its profile and allows it to create innovative courses, curricula, and degree programs. The shift makes way for increased enrollment and a more holistic and customized experience for students.

The first of its kind College of Emerging and Collaborative Studies acts as an incubator and home for new degree programs on emerging topics that are rapidly changing the future landscape of the workforce. The college leverages campus strengths across all colleges and disciplines and prioritizes unique and bold partnerships with industries to develop and offer personalized relevant learning experiences to students.

Students walk to class outside of the Baker School of Public Policy and Public Affairs at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, campus.

The Howard H. Baker Jr. School of Public Policy and Public Affairs grew out of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, which launched in 2003 to educate and promote research to further the public’s knowledge of our system of governance and highlight the critical importance of public service. The new school, which includes the Institute of American Civics, is taking that mission even further by creating academic programs and degrees that will help produce public servants and civic leaders.

The College of Arts and Sciences and the Tickle College of Engineering, in collaboration with the Office of the Provost and the Division of Student Success, piloted a new Academic Course Community initiative in fall 2023. About 400 first-year students were enrolled together in several courses relevant to their degree program. The courses were held outside of peak class times on campus, which allowed for specialized academic support tied to those classes — for example, an exam review session held immediately following class. Students also had access to success workshops, academic coaching and peer learning assistance. Taking the courses together gave students an opportunity to build tight-knit relationships with peers and faculty. The Office of the Provost and Division of Student Success are working on a second iteration of the initiative for fall 2024.

Parking and Transportation initiatives

UT is exploring several initiatives to address parking needs on campus. Adding parking space is only part of the solution, and the university is working with parking consultant Brett Wood with Wood Solutions Group. The first step included evaluating the current parking program and determining possible recommendations, which may include creation of new parking inventory, zone parking for students, additional on-demand visitor parking and various traffic demand management solutions.

The university hired a new traffic engineer in September 2023 who has been working with the consultant to improve the overall parking and transportation experience. Students will begin seeing some of these improvements beginning in the spring 2024 semester. A new executive director of parking and transportation services will join UT in March 2024 to help develop and implement parking and transportation initiatives.

Students in the fall 2023 Heath Integrated Business and Engineering Program investigated the use of cameras to monitor parking availability instead of expensive hardware such as that installed in three on-campus parking garages. The university installed new camera systems at four garages, bringing the total number of garages with space-availability software to seven. Students, faculty and staff will be able to see real-time availability in those garages through the new mPark app, which will be linked to the Tennessee app.

The university encourages students, faculty and staff to take advantage of the free T transit service. The Fort T route has expanded to reach deeper into the Fort Sanders neighborhood – at the corner of  22nd Street and Grand Avenue – where a large number of students live.

Economy commuter lots are served by shuttles. Shuttle maps and real-time parking locations are available on the Parking and Transportation website. Economy lots are located at University Commons, at the UT Culinary Institute, and near Church Street United Methodist Church at Front Avenue and South Broadway.

The T will be transitioning to an all-electric fleet starting in summer 2024. The addition of the new bus fleet will allow for the expansion of a couple of T routes and increase the frequency of other routes.

The university completed studies on two potential sites for a new 1,000-space parking garage. Design efforts will begin once the location is confirmed.

Vol Dining updates

Vol Dining updated three locations for the spring 2024 semester. A new Mediterranean concept called Mazevo replaced Rising Roll in the Student Union. Union Deli in the Student Union is receiving a significant redesign, and the former Einstein Brothers Bagels in the Haslam College of Business is now K Brew Express. K Brew, a local coffee and bagel brand, was co-founded by UT alumnus Pierce LaMacchia. This is K Brew’s fifth store in Knoxville and the first local partnership with Vol Dining to offer a storefront on campus.

Vol Dining is planning additional offerings and updates for the 2024-25 academic year:

  • A new retail offering at the Cumberland Avenue location
  • A refresh for Southern Kitchen and replacing Dunkin at Volunteer Hall with local brand Status Dough
  • Orange Acres, a new coffee and grab and go concept in the Energy and Environmental Science Research Building on the UT Institute of Agriculture campus
  • Convenience store technology upgrades to improve ease of use and accessibility
  • A refresh for the Starbucks in Hodges Library over the summer of 2024

A new coffee and grab and go concept will be available in Croley Nursing Building.

Digital transformation to improve online experiences

The university has embarked on a digital transformation to redefine and focus its primary digital platforms.

A campus intranet, expected to launch in February, consists of interconnected associated sites and affiliated pages with content from across campus. Faculty, staff and student workers will use the intranet to share and access internal documents and information.

The university is investing in a transformational project to enhance the student experience and improve support provided to staff and faculty. The customer relationship management system will be powered by Salesforce—one of the world’s leading technology companies. The campus-wide system will eliminate barriers to student information, enable greater collaboration across different offices and create more coordinated communications. The improvements will provide students with a more streamlined online experience as they engage with services and events across campus. Delivery of the first phase is expected in spring 2024.


Lisa Leko (865-974-8698,