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Chancellor’s State of the University Speech Reaffirms Value of a Liberal Arts Education

By Mason Edwards, Staff Writer for the University Echo

Chancellor Steven R. Angle gives the 2022 State of the University Address at Chamberlain Pavilion. Friday, September 16, 2022. Allie English, Staff Phtotographer

Chancellor Steven Angle addressed the year’s accomplishments, present concerns, and future challenges for UTC at the Chamberlain Pavilion on Friday, Sept. 16.

“There’s nothing more important than what we do,” Angle said. “Each and every member of our campus community is an important part of who we are. Together, we are UTC.”

Angle began the speech celebrating the 136th year anniversary of the school and thanked UTC alumni, faculty, staff, students and the leadership team for creating an academic environment in which students may excel.

The live-streamed event, Angle’s annual State of the University Address, highlighted the growth in the first-year class, upcoming academic partnerships and grants and successful building projects. He feels the speech’s purpose is to reinvigorate UTC’s devotion towards providing academic excellence.

UTC staff decorated Chamberlain Pavilion with potted plants, and white chairs and awnings provided some shade. Around forty to fifty people sat in attendance, including campus leaders like David Steele, Stacy Lightfoot and Daniel Pack, to name a few.

Angle proudly listed several university accomplishments, including the groundbreaking of the Wolford Family Athletic Complex, a record $9.2 million Transportation Hub grant and new nursing and cybersecurity programs. 

Concerning his vision for the future, Angle believes Quantum Mathematics and Communications will be invaluable skills in an evolving workforce. One new academic partnership aims to improve those studies to help in the fields of healthcare and supply chain management.

The Chancellor supported UTC’s commitment to preparing students for the workforce.

“The expansion of the Rollins College of Business is the top capital priority for UTC and the UT System as we look to 2023,” said Angle, who then summarized, “We’re moving the needle in the right direction, but there’s always more to achieve.”

He then covered the university’s yet-to-overcome challenges, including a decrease in enrollment headcount, stagnating freshman-to-sophomore retention and a budget deficit of just under $2 million.

In a phone interview after the event, the Chancellor’s Chief of Staff David Steele clarified that the decision of which departments, colleges, and programs will face budget restraints has not been decided yet. Steele stated the information will be publicly available as soon as the decision is made.

“The specific areas of impact have not been determined yet,” Steele said. “The hope is a fairly temporary response, so we are going to be very strategic about what is cut.” 

Despite the 72.5% first-to-second-year retention and 53% six-year graduation rate, Angle remains committed to their 2025 retention and graduation goals. His plan developed the Quality Enhancement Plan to build engaging learning communities.

Audience members applaud at the State of the Univeristy Address on Chamberlain Field. Friday, September 15, 2022. Nola Bailey, Staff Photographer

Angle defended the place of a liberal arts education within a growing workforce.

According to Angle, the career path is not linear and the experiences at universities help students become increasingly adaptable, more resilient and better critical thinkers. In his eyes, a college degree is more than a ticket to a career.

“A nervous tension exists between preparing for a job or making an investment in education,” said Angle. “Our liberal arts assists [students] in learning who they are and what they want to be.”

Angle spoke of viewpoint diversity, which means encouraging students to interact with those of different backgrounds and conversate civilly.

“Education is more than the absorption of information,” Angle said. “UTC students learn how to fail and recover, how to think critically and communicate effectively.”

He ended the speech by asking the audience to tour the new locations, but much of the UTC leadership team stayed beyond the speech’s duration to connect, network and socialize. 

“The spaces are one thing, but it’s the people that make them great,” Angle concluded, ending with an iconic UTC symbol– the power C.

Prior to the event, the Chancellor meandered from person to person, engaging and greeting them. He wore dark blue sunglasses, which read “Go Mocs” down the frame. 

Dr. Steven Angle speaks with SGA president and Homecoming Court Candidate Delali Gadzekpo. Friday, September 16, 2022. Allie English, Staff Photographer

A newly appointed Chancellor’s Ambassador, Grayson McPherson, greeted the audience as they filled in. He felt excited to listen to the address.

“I think it’s a great way for faculty, staff and students to hear the vision the chancellor has for the university,'' McPherson said. “To motivate everyone to work together to make this campus a better place to work and be a better place to be a student.”

The UTC Communications and Marketing Team released official university census figures on Sept. 9, which included important statistics regarding enrollment and retention. For the exact figures, visit their article.

The Chancellor did not cite other notable figures, keeping the speech around 20 minutes long. Those numbers report a record proportion of Latino students and growth in border state student enrollment.

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