"Welcome to what promises to be an enormously exciting fall semester at UT Knoxville!
"Once again, we are in a very strong position academically. Our freshman class of about 4,200 students is the best in the university’s history. The average ACT score for the group is 26.5 and the average high school GPA for incoming freshmen is 3.74.
"The Ready for the World initiative, now in its fourth year, is preparing our students, faculty and staff for a global society. This year’s theme — Children and War — is particularly timely.
"We can point with pride to the Chancellor’s Honors Programs, the first group of Haslam Scholars this year, and the successes of the Tennessee Pledge and Promise scholarships. We’ve just graduated our first class of HOPE scholarship recipients. UT matched Harvard, MIT, Princeton and Duke in this year’s prestigious Goldwater scholarship competition for sophomores and juniors majoring in math, science and engineering. And, a new undergraduate education fee will provide more merit and need-based scholarships to study abroad.
"These impressive academic achievements help us recruit outstanding faculty and are no doubt an advantage to the Chancellor Search Committee, which continues its work under the leadership of Hap McSween.
"Several long-term construction and remodeling projects coming online this year — including the new Baker Center, the business building and two dorms — will improve the campus.
"UT continues to demonstrate environmental leadership. In September, we will unveil a major initiative here on campus aimed at doing the right thing environmentally as well as saving UT money.
"As many people know, UT Knoxville has been affected by the state budget crunch, which has led, among other things, to administrative cuts. Our goal is to protect the educational experience of large numbers of students and preserve the quality of the institution.
"As we start this new academic year, I want to express my sincere appreciation to our faculty and staff. Your dedication is moving UT forward in its core functions of education, research and service to Tennessee."