Welcome back for the start of the 2019-2020 academic year. It has been a very busy summer at Tech, and I wanted to share some of the great things that have happened.

  • Tech has completed many construction and landscaping projects, including Bartoo and Kittrell halls, and the Volpe Library.
  • We officially surpassed our $60 million Tennessee Tech Tomorrow Capital Campaign goal, two years ahead of schedule!
  • Our Office of Research announced a record-setting year, with $19.7 million in sponsored research activations for 2018-2019. This is 15% more than the previous record high.
  • THEC gave final approval to launch two new graduate degree programs: an online master’s degree in engineering management; and a Ph.D. in counseling and supervision.
  • For the first time in recent memory, Tech has permanent deans in all of our colleges, with three new deans starting over the summer, Dr. Kim Hanna in the Whitson-Hester School of Nursing, Dr. Joe Slater in the College of Engineering, and Dr. Darron Smith in the College of Agriculture and Human Ecology.
  • Vice President Marc Burnett has been appointed as the university’s first Chief Diversity Officer, providing a cabinet-level administrator who will focus on developing, executing and monitoring strategic efforts around diversity, inclusion and equity for students, faculty and staff, specifically with regard to recruitment, admissions and enrollment.
  • We began work on the new master plan for Tennessee Tech this year, having issued an RFP for our new master plan architect. We want and need faculty involvement as we go forward in making the new master plan. THEC is asking all universities to be innovative and interdisciplinary for any new buildings. They want to see new and creative ways of using space.
  • And, thanks to the funding for planning in this year’s state budget, we also issued an RFP for designers to begin work on our first new engineering building in 50 years!

We have made a lot of progress, but no matter how good Tech has been in the past or how good we are now, it’s not good enough for the future. We must keep pushing forward.

Our focus for this year will be on enrollment and impact.

Our focus for this year will be on enrollment and impact – recruitment, retention and student success; impactful scholarship that provides real solutions to real problems for real people. That includes our efforts in the Tech Tomorrow Strategic Plan.

We want to say to students across Tennessee: WE WANT YOU!

We want to say to citizens across Tennessee: We focus on solving real problems important to Tennesseans. Whether through our work in developing new academic programs like vehicle engineering, data science and cybersecurity to support state industry, our efforts to educate career-ready students, or our Rural Reimagined Grand Challenge, Tennessee Tech is here to serve the entire state.

The artist Michelangelo once said, “The greater danger for most of us isn’t that our aim is too high and miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”

Tennessee Tech, in its very founding, has a history of aiming high, and we must continue to do so. The Tech Tomorrow Strategic Plan set a mission and vision for the university. These goals grow out of that plan.

By 2025, Tennessee Tech will have:

  • 12,000 total headcount enrollment
  • 22% minority enrollment (currently at 16%)
  • 82% freshmen-to-sophomore retention rate (currently at 75%)
  • 50% 4-year graduation rate (not 6-year, but 4-year, which is how long it should take for a student to earn their degree)
  • Double sponsored research to $40 million annually
  • Growth of online programs
  • Strengthen career development
  • Be recognized as the champion and center of excellence regarding the future of rural Tennessee communities

This set of goals may seem audacious and, frankly, may be a bit scary – goals that will have an impact often are – but all are within our reach if all of us work to achieve them. We will build the Tennessee Tech of Tomorrow by being bold, fearless and confident.

You will hear more about these goals in the future, but for now, I challenge you to think about what you can do to help affect these changes. In order for Tech to make these goals a reality, it truly will take all of us working to deliver enduring education, impactful research and collaborative service

Live Wings Up,