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UTC’s 10-Year Vision Revealed at Chancellor’s State of the University Address

By Caroline Colvin, Editor-in-Chief and Mason Edwards, Features Editor

Chancellor Steven Angle speaks to the crowd about the state of the university. Friday, September 15, 2023. Sammy Mckenzie, Photo Editor.

On Founder’s Day, Chancellor Steven Angle unveiled a roadmap for the next ten years, underpinned by four core pillars he alleged will reshape education, innovation, health, and teaching excellence.

The annual State of the University Address serves as an opportunity for UTC’s administration to highlight notable achievements, announce ongoing projects and preview future ambitions. Angle’s speech on Friday, Sept. 15, marked the 137th anniversary of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and his 10th State of the University Address.

In a near-capacity University Center auditorium, Angle first reflected on the previous decade of growth, announcing important increases in enrollment, donations and student-aid. In addition to admitting the largest freshman class this year, the four-year graduation rate more than doubled over the decade.

“Since the year 2010, UTC has had well over $1 billion to support our goals and

aspirations,” Angle added. “Now is the time to be bold and set stretch goals.”

Providing a summary of the speech, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Jim Hicks reflected on the chancellor’s words.

“He talks a lot about the future of the institution and the direction that we are going, exciting developments in terms of new housing, new programs,” Hicks said. “I think there’s a growth to the institution that students should be excited about.”

New buildings will soon emerge around campus; a new 700-bed student housing complex will take Frist Hall’s space. A new, nearly $100 million addition to Fletcher Hall is around the corner, given that Gary W. Rollins College of Business received a $40 million gift in 2018 and is set to receive $30 million more. Moreover, the UTC School of Nursing, which ranks number one in the state, stands to receive an $8 million naming gift, which will fund a new building for them.

“The goal is to multiply our impact by leveraging campus expertise with investments made by community partners,” Angle summarized. “While infrastructure is important, an outstanding educational experience for all students remains our priority.”

SGA Treasurer Aria Beloate appreciated that the address mentioned the hard work of campus faculty, staff and students.

“I’m so proud that we have a university that wants to give back to its students like that,” Beloate said. “$97 million going back into the college of business… for business students is so incredible, and the fact that the nursing majors are going to get a brand new building…that’s so exciting.”

Communities and school systems across the country could benefit from UTC’s newly-proposed Center for Innovation and Excellence in Teacher Education.

“If we really want to make a difference, teacher education is where it begins,” Angle said. “Literacy, preparing for third-grade advancement, dual language learners, and being ready for the workforce or post-secondary education—all are impacted by teachers in the classroom.”

A member of the audience, Jeremiah Chambers– also part of Freshman Senate– expressed excitement for his journey at UTC and the changes that are to come.

“As an education major, it’s good to know that a lot of our programs are so good but also being changed in the process,” Chambers said.

The chancellor reaffirmed his commitment to developing students’ employable skills, like critical thinking, problem solving, cultural awareness and empathy. In an interview with the University Echo, Angle explained that skill investments open up new occupational opportunities.

“We believe in you and we’re doing this for you, so you will have the opportunities for the future,” Angel said. “...we really will help our students become the people they want to be.”

Angle also discussed four “rallying points” which will guide the school’s next decade. Summarized, these areas look to support the university’s students, staff and faculty, leverage the region’s economic developments, foster innovation and set new standards for excellence.

The university recognizes its importance to the Chattanooga, as well as how the region’s opportunities can benefit students. Toward that end, Angel finds that campus relationships with Volkswagen and EPB are important, as well as finding a new Director of Economic Development. Moreover, the program allowing 56 high school students to enroll in college courses on campus– known as University High– serves as another example of community partnership.

Associate Dean of Students Brett Fuchs commented after the speech, adding that research and community involvement is an area fit for growth.

“It’s exciting to see that UTC’s taking advantage of that,” Fuchs said. “I think it will add a lot to the university and help us be better community partners than we are.”

Artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and other technologies reappeared as an important theme of the address, as they were in last year’s speech; therefore, the university will host two open forums on those topics.

“Our aspirations must embrace the increasing pace of technological change,” Angle said. “As business moves into quantum and AI, the educated workforce will need to apply the new technology.”

The speech, which lasted approximately twenty minutes, did not allow audience questions, include details on the planned renovations to the University Center or address freshman housing overflows. Nevertheless, in light of their previous achievements and future plans, Angle remains optimistic for the next 10 years.

“Our greatest asset is our people, we will empower and invest in them,” Angle said as he concluded the address. “Together, let’s launch the best decade of UTC.”

Readers wishing to read the entire speech can visit UTC’s official news website for a transcript.

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