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Convocation 2006 UT Chattanooga
“State of the University”

Good afternoon. I am pleased to welcome you to the 2006 Convocation. Joining me on the platform today are Lydia Grafton, Student Government Association President, Gavin Townsend, Faculty President, Valerah Hodges, ERC Staff President, Jim Bowman, ESC Staff President, and David Fussell, UTC Alumni Board President. I have invited each of them to bring you their greetings. Lydia --

[Platform Party greets the faculty.]

Thank you for your greetings, and thank you for all that you do every day to make UTC a great university.

  • You may have heard the old joke about a university chancellor being like a cemetery proprietor:… you have a lot of people under you, but no one is listening.

A few times in the past 15 months, I have understood the point of that old joke. But on most days, I understand fully that you are listening, that you do care deeply about the direction and future of your university, and that you – like my staff and I -- are pursuing your respective duties and responsibilities with dedication and energy.

I am here this afternoon to report to the UTC family about the year we recently completed, about the goals and actions that I and your administration are pursuing this year with your support and collaboration, and to point toward the future of UT Chattanooga. It is a future that I firmly believe will be exciting, dynamic, and rewarding for us and for all whom we serve. In the wonderful video prepared recently by our Office of University Relations, we re-stated the pledge from our historic University Seal: “We Shall Achieve.” I am confident of that statement, and I look forward to working with each of you to realize its promise.

Please understand: I know that we have daunting challenges ahead. We continue to experience declining state appropriations as a proportion of the total state budget. We serve a state that is 44th in the nation in the number of citizens who hold a college degree. Yet we do not always see the evidence that our political leaders or the electorate at large understand the critical importance of higher education to the future well-being of Tennessee.

  • Fundamental issues like salary fairness and equity remain as core problems that we must address directly with hard-nosed realism and sound planning.

Mission and environment

“Engaged metropolitan university” —environment determines mission. Let me make an analogy to iilustrate what that phrase means to me. If Harvard University were moved from Cambridge, Massachusetts to Topeka, Kansas, I believe that its mission and goals would remain largely unchanged.

However, for UT Chattanooga, the fact that we are in Chattanooga, Tennessee defines who we are, what we do, and what we aspire to do. I am happy about that sense of place and sense of purpose. We live and work in a great place, and our mission is to make this place better for our students and for all of the citizens who support us and depend upon us.

Petersen’s points

  • Too few college graduates
  • Need to increase college enrollments

Current achievements

No where are our achievements better witnessed than through distinctions earned by our students.

I want to name just a few of the many deserving UTC students for recognition, and I know so many more are deserving. But I must recognize Darris Saylors. Darris is a University Honors student who was recently named recipient of a Portz Scholarship by the National Collegiate Honors Council. She was recognized for her extensive research and study travel, including trips to China and India.

Kristen Packet, completed an internship with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, studying humanitarian needs in Africa, the Middle East, and the Far East.

Malachi Nkem, a junior majoring in biology, received a 2006 United Negro College Fund/Merck Undergraduate Science Scholarship for outstanding research.

Just a few examples and note about how our campus is achieving in all divisions and areas of responsibility:

In student enrollment, this fall…

  • Enrollment-historic enrollment, freshmen, black,
  • Record enrollment for fall 2006—8,923
  • Record freshman enrollment fall 2006—1,782
  • Minority enrollment fall 2006—23.89 percent (up from fall 05)
  • This offers practical results for funding, bringing more than $400,000 new dollars into our coffers.

In our budget planning and allocations…

  • Our university budget is healthy, strong, and clean.
  • Reserve Fund balance is highest in University history at over $3 million, which is 3.4 percent
  • Our budget officers have reserved almost $3 million additional dollars to fund a new student information system
  • Food Services, the Bookstore, the Arena, Housing, and other auxiliary service units are fiscally strong.

In fact, housing occupancy rates for all university housing, including UTC Place, exceed 94 percent. Both north and south campus housing will meet their operating and debt service obligations this year, relieving a threat of reduced allocations from the University of Chattanooga Foundation. In fact, with a healthy enrollment growth over the next few years, we will need to look at either more housing or that dreaded “H” word—hotel.

This fall we have been able to address some long-term budget challenges, including $450,000 additional dollars to the academic budget, allocated to support faculty travel at $100,000; equipment and operating funds at $300,000; and international student recruitment at $50,000. Thanks to Provost Burhenn and Associate Provost Pittenger for distributing these dollars to the academic units.

Of the $2.9 million in new funds allocated in the 2006-07 budget, more than 59 percent was reserved for Academic Affairs.

This brings the total of new dollars to our permanent academic budget—even after accounting for several major budget reductions—to $9.6 million over the past six years.

Budget dollars 58 percent of our total budget is now appropriated to academics (instruction/research/public service/academic support); and 21 percent to student services (athletics, student activities/scholarships).

President Petersen’s merit pay plan for faculty members received much attention last year. I can report that 198 faculty members, from a pool of 357 eligible professors, received merit increased, with the average raise being $1,073.

I pledge that increasing compensation to faculty and staff will be a priority during our strategic planning process this year.

You can imagine that enrollment growth and our budget are closely linked. More students bring with them more needs and challenges—classroom space, faculty members, lab stations, and the like—BUT more students also mean more dollars in our budget. With this year’s anticipated growth, we hope to secure dollars to address faculty and staff compensation in January 2007. It is still too early to know exactly how much will be available, but we hope to make progress toward competitive salaries across the campus.

I continue to hear concerns over the transparency of the University budget. This year’s budget was created through an open and participatory process. As we enter the planning stages for next year’s budget process, I again will ask that we produce a clear set of budget guidelines with consistent reporting formats be distributed to the campus. To invite more participation and a better understanding of the process, the Offices of University Relations and Business and Financial Affairs will post a website that will include timetables, budget goals, budget planning documents, and presentations and requests from divisions, with updates as the process moves forward. Over time, this website will include information about the state budget and higher education’s appropriations.

In the community….

UTC has an astounding economic impact on the regional economy.

  • More than $285 million a year to the local economy
  • Provides 4,337 jobs in Chattanooga
  • College degree increases career earning potential by more than $1 million over lifetime
  • Almost 90 percent of alumni in Tennessee, paying taxes at a higher rate
  • Income for one becomes income for all
  • Non-economic benefits, including better quality of life, better health care, reduced crime

In student services….

Our partnership with the UTC Poly-Clinic is transformational in the delivery of health care services to our students. It provides an exceptional level experiential involvement with students in our health professions programs, including nursing and physical therapy. Our work might well prove to be a model for student health services across the UT system and higher education in Tennessee.

In athletics….

Under the direction of our new Athletics Director Rick Hart, our student-athletes continue a tradition of achievement on their respective playing fields. We are working to make sure all of our student athletes understand that responsibilities that accompany being a Moc. They are ambassadors of our campus, and must conduct themselves accordingly.

Attending class is a requirement for our student-athletes; as Head Football Coach Rodney Alison has told his players, “Go to class, with class.”

We provide academic resources—tutors, counselors, study hours—to ensure that our student-athletes perform in the classroom as well as they do in competition.

Graduation rates for our student athletes continue to outpace those of the general student population. That shows us that the kinds of academic support given to our student athletes must be extended to all students. We have made progress through the development of a Student Success Center, but we must do more.

Faculty achievement

  • We all read with interest about our colleague Steve Symes, associate professor of chemistry, studying meteorites from Mars
  • TVA test track
  • TVA has given UTC 10-year use of the one-mile test tract
  • Electric vehicle testing will allow study of fuel efficiency, endurance, and steering
  • Fuel cell
  • UTC partnered with several entities to engage Ion America of Silicon Valley, which has brought the hydrogen producing fuel cell to UTC for testing
  • News of the fuel cell project was shared with hundreds of visitors who attended the 2006 Tennessee Valley Corridor Summit, held in Chattanooga last spring.


  • In 2005, 64 UTC students studied abroad; in 2006, 100 students were able to travel and learn in countries from Scotland to South Africa.
  • A group of UTC faculty and staff visited UT-Martin recently to discuss progress in the areas of international student recruitment and services, and the potential partnerships our campus could share with theirs
  • Dr. Deborah Arfken traveled to Washington DC and met with representatives from foreign embassies, with the goal of encouraging foreign students to enroll at UTC
  • In development: Oxford Summer Program with the Center for Hebrew and Jewish Studies. UTC courses would be offered through five weeks of study and field trips
  • In development: Multicultural Center, to be housed on the third floor of the University, will prepare students to succeed in the global workplace. Another goal for the Multicultural Center will be to foster an appreciation of other cultures.
  • Dr. Lucien Ellington led a faculty tour of Japan last summer, another step in the development of East Asian curriculum in undergraduate and graduate UTC courses designed for future teachers. Japan, China, and South Korea are three of the most important economies in the world, an influence felt at many levels in the United States, according to Ellington.

Distance Education

  • Comprehensive plan for distance education using UT On-Line as our delivery mechanism
  • Working with departments to identify courses and program
  • Sharing of resources between UTC/UTK and UT Space Institute to make the on-line M.S. in Engineering Management more accessible and enhance credits transfer
  • ROTC—hope to gain curricular approval this fall with recruitment to begin this spring and courses offered in fall 2007

Math and Science

  • Following up on a very successful initiative to improve achievement at the lowest performing urban schools, our College of Education has engaged Benwood Foundation and Lyndhurst Foundation to create a state-of-the art program to train teachers to become the best math and science teachers at the elementary level, and to make UTC the premier teacher education site in the nation
  • Development of a short, intensive math review course for our students who are may need a little mathematics refresher course but do not need a full-blown developmental class.

Healthier Community

  • Chattanooga’s Approach to Metabolic Health Promotion (CHAMHP)
  • UTC will contribute research efforts to this worksite-based metabolic health intervention program
  • Metabolic Syndrome increases the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, and Type II Diabetes.

Occupational Therapy

  • The University of Tennessee Health Science Center and UTC have partnered to bring the accredited Occupational Therapy program to Chattanooga.
  • Classes in Occupational Therapy Health Sciences will be offered at UTC in January

Chancellor’s Challenge

  • The first Chancellor’s Challenge is a team event designed by the Department of Health and Human Performance to encourage UTC students, faculty and staff to develop health lifestyles.
  • A cash award and special prize will be awarded to one student and one faculty or staff member for participation.
  • Teams will earn points for all physical activity and bonus points for participating in special events and activities hosted by the Chancellor's Challenge and other organizations

Women’s Center

  • Scheduled to be housed on third floor of the University Center
  • Will develop leadership skills for young women
  • Will provide networking opportunities for female students to interact with women professionals
  • Through the Women’s Center, UTC hopes to develop a culture that recognizes the achievements of women, and fosters healthy relationships between men and women.


We are in challenging times, and we must respond to the challenges.

For example, last year our campus faced a serious issue of student misconduct. We took the situation to come together, to join forces, and to learn how to move forward. I learned from the Faculty Senate. I learned from the Women’s Faculty Caucus, and I learned from all of the faculty, staff, students, coaches, and Chattanooga citizens who wrote to me or spoke to me about their heartfelt reactions to these events. From those painful days came the catalyst to fund a women’s center on campus.

We face stiffer competition than at any time in our history.

  • Competition to recruit adult students—and we aren’t doing enough to make UTC their top choice for continuing their education.
  • Competition from other colleges—for-profit, on-line, and even our state higher education colleagues—moving into our local marketplace
  • Competing for state dollars with pre K-12 schools who need so much, law enforcement and corrections, without whom we could not function as a society and our health care system that has faced an unprecedented funding crisis.

This competition makes it incumbent upon us to recruit and retain our students at a higher level. We must examine what we offer students, and we may need to address areas of demand that we currently do not meet.

We can most assuredly expect to demonstrate greater accountability in the future, and we can anticipate measures from the federal government that might infringe on what traditionally has been viewed as purview of academia. U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings just last week recommended government actions that would bring elements of the “No Child Left Behind” education programs to higher education.

Secretary Spellings’ recommendations are based on a report by the Commission on the Future of U.S. Higher Education, which alleged that colleges and universities have slipped into “unwarranted complacency” and that higher education’s financing system is increasingly dysfunctional.

Her plan will link federal funding to the reporting of student learning outcomes, saying, “Higher education must change from a system primarily based on reputation to one based on performance.” She is also calling for more financial aid for students to promote access to higher education.

The ultimate goal of the plan—to enable more Americans to earn a college degree—is undoubtedly appropriate. This is not the time to debate or even more closely examine the specific recommendations being made. I speak of this today only to say that forces will be demanding more of UTC and higher education. Our students and their families, state and federal—and even local—governments; our alumni; employers who hire our graduates—all of these are increasingly looking to us for change and leadership. Our very survival as an institution as well as our responsibilities to the constituents that we serve demand that we take heed.


Faced with these challenges, we must prepare. Therefore, this year, as a campus we will undertake a major effort at strategic planning to identify goals and objectives to meet our mission as an engaged metropolitan university. We will invite a consulting team to lead us in discussions of how to interpret our mission across disciplines and functions, how to measure our progress, how to reward achievement, and how to position ourselves for ever-changing demands.

Let me offer one powerful example of metropolitan engagement that you will soon witness. We will be assisted in our strategic planning endeavor by our emerging partnership with the Chattanooga Research Council. The CRC will assist us in academic engagement and strategic planning. This partnership will lead to new levels of data analysis and what we do for this region. We are proud for the opportunity to host this group on our campus and for the two entities to join resources.

The notion of an engaged and active university in the community is consistent with UTC’s history. In the 1930s, under President Alexander Guerry, the University of Chattanooga held a series of biennial Institutes of Justice that were open to the community at large. In their history of the University of Chattanooga, Professors Govan and Livingood wrote of the institutes, “They brought to Chattanooga and the campus individuals of great reputation. They were not, however, allowed to overshadow the quiet but more permanent results of enlarging and strengthening the program of the institution and building closer ties with the community through the use of its own talents and facilities.”

This exactly characterizes our potential partnership with the Chattanooga Research Council, which will move into refurbished space in the old Barr Building shortly after the first of next year.

What CRC Brings to UTC

  • CRC will create new opportunities to pursue outside funding for faculty and student research that builds upon its relationships with national organizations (e.g. Brookings, the Urban Institute), national funders (Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation), local funders and local service providers.
  • CRC will offer students in a host of different disciplines – political science, criminal justice, sociology, among others – the opportunity for experiential learning in the Chattanooga community. In fact, the CRC has hosted a graduate student with a HUD Fellowship for several years.
  • CRC intends to fund a series of mini-grants for faculty and/or graduate student research.
  • I think the staff at CRC will be great colleagues for us.Many of them have experience teaching at the graduate and undergraduate levels and are excited about being engaged on a campus again.
  • Perhaps most significantly, in the spirit of the Institutes of Justice from our heritage, a proposed lecture series with the Benwood Foundation is part of a commitment to bring some of the best talent in public policy – both practitioners and scholars – on campus at UTC.

In its short 18-month lifetime, the Chattanooga Research Council has studied local and state government in our region, the impact of TennCare, the increase in violent crime in midsized cities, and the effect of Latino immigration, and has developed research partnerships or grant support from organizations including the Brookings Institute, the Sloan Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and governments and agencies in Chattanooga and the surrounding region.


We are in a privileged profession. What we do touches lives and transforms futures. As we grapple with the details of our goals and objectives, I call upon all of us – not the least, upon myself – not to lose sight of the grand and noble calling that we follow in our professional lives. We are a community and a family. Like all families, we will have our disagreements and frustrations. But like all successful families, we will come together again and redouble our commitment to bring positive change and enhanced quality to the city, region, and state in which we pursue our professional lives.

So I return to the theme of our motto, “We Shall Achieve.” I will end with a quote from Cesar Chavez, the tireless labor organizer and social reformer, who said:

“We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community... Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.”

What we seek to achieve together here at UTC is no less than “progress and prosperity for our community.” I have every expectation that “we shall achieve.”

Thank you.

October 11, 2006

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