UT Students Return To Campus (606)

 KNOXVILLE, Tenn.– The University of Tennessee-Knoxville’s 25,000 students will find classrooms, laboratories and recreation areas upgraded and cyberspace more accessible this fall.

At least $1 million is being spent for much-needed instructional equipment, Chancellor Bill Snyder said. Dorm residents with personal computers will have Internet access from their rooms.

 Intramural fields have a new, bright green artificial surface, and a new exercise “bubble” filled with fitness equipment replaces one that collapsed in a snowstorm several years ago.

 Students will begin moving into campus residence halls at 8 a.m., Aug. 23. Residence hall staff reports the highest occupancy rates in recent years.

Classes begin Aug. 27.

 In Andy Holt Tower and the Student Services Building, staff spent the summer getting ready for fall semster. Being able to improve classroom equipment is a highlight for Snyder.

“Two percent of this year’s fee increase is designated for instructional equipment purchases, and we are moving quickly to get new microscopes, computers and other equipment into the hands of students,” Snyder said.

 Students also will see results of the $100-per-semester technology fee. All dorm residents who bring personal computers will have access to the university campus network and the Internet, Faye Muly of the department of information infrastructure said.

 “We will have staff in the residence halls to install interface cards and software on the spot,” Muly said. “We don’t know how many students will show up with computers, but we are prepared to accommodate them.”

 Diners in UT-Knoxville’s cafeterias and grills will see changes there too. Aramark, a national food service operator, signed a five-year contract this summer to operate the campus dining service. The company plans renovations to several dining facilities.

Based on admissions information, officials say the freshman class may be the best qualified ever. Last year’s first-time freshmen had a record-high ACT test average of 23.9.

 “We are going to have an outstanding freshman class, and there may be more of them than last year,” Dr. John Peters, vice chancellor for academic affairs, said. “Overall, it appears our enrollment will be about the same as last fall.”

 While the number of first-time freshman and transfer students is expected to rise slightly, new graduate student enrollment will probably follow national trends and drop slightly, Peters said.

 “When the job market is strong, new graduates opt to go to work rather than to grad school. Right now, the job market for college graduates is the best in years,” Peters said.

 As many as 4,000 first-time students may show up for classes. Last year, 3,692 freshman enrolled. UT-Knoxville’s total enrollment last fall was 25,086.

 Most returning students completed registration before they left for summer vacation, and many of the new freshmen took care of that task at summer orientation. With registration out of the way, they will have more time for participating in a full schedule of “Welcome Week ’97” activities Aug. 23-31.

Planned activities include the annual Freshman Picnic, Aug. 24, Vol Fest 97, Aug. 25, and a party at the International House, Aug. 26. Sorority and fraternity rush begins Aug. 23 and runs through Aug. 29.

 The United Parcel Service strike should not have much impact on finding books at the UT Book and Supply Store, Assistant Manager Mike Roos said.

 Most textbooks arrived before the strike, Roos said, but late or special orders could be a problem. However, the bookstore has arranged a back-up carrier for late orders.

 Last year UT-Knoxville struggled with budget cuts, layoffs and reducing faculty positions. While those problems haven’t completely gone away, Snyder said he looks forward to better times.

 “It’s going to be a better year. It’s going to be a great year.”

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 Contact: Bill Snyder (423-974-3288),  John Peters (974-3265) or  Faye Muly (974-3817)