Randy Boyd sets University of Tennessee goals for ‘greatest decade’

Randy Boyd will work to see through his promise of the “greatest decade” in University of Tennessee history after being re-elected as UT System president through 2030.

But what is he planning next to make it happen?

  • Adding and updating student housing: UT Knoxville entered into a public-private partnership to build three dormitories by 2026, with plans to add space for 1,000 students each year. UT Chattanooga will build a new dormitory by fall 2027. UT Martin and UT Southern are still developing student housing strategies.
  • Improve the parking lot: The UT System Board of Trustees approved parking changes for UT Knoxville, including tiered parking zones based on location. The university will also place parking restrictions on first-year students and will expand the class schedule to spread out parking demand. Other UT campuses can replicate these strategies.
  • Resolution of capital project constraints: UT collaborates with the state to build new academic buildings. There are 1,012 buildings across the UT campus, with an average lifespan of 67 years. About $3.4 billion is needed in capital expenditures over the next 10 years, along with $900 million in maintenance costs alone.
  • Maintain affordability: UT has held tuition increases to 0.8% on average per year for five years. Tuition will increase for each campus this fall to mitigate inflationary costs. UT Promise, a last-dollar scholarship based on income, resulted in 47% of students graduating last year with zero debt.

Another big goal: to reach 71,000 total students enrolled on UT campuses by 2030. As of 2023, the system was at 58,726 students, an impressive number that leaves room to grow by 12,274 across five main campuses.

This may be challenged by a looming “enrollment cliff,” which refers to an expected decline in both the number of high school graduates and, more generally, 18-year-olds in the coming years.

But UT is already working on a plan, which includes creating a connected and transparent approach to enrollment that showcases each campus and increases interest in attending college.

The UT Enrollment Council will begin implementing parts of the plan in August, and each campus will develop individual plans this fall.

New criteria for University of Tennessee guaranteed admission

When Boyd was approved for another five years during the UT System Board of Trustees’ annual meeting June 24-25, the board also made changes to the guaranteed admissions policy less than a year after it was implemented.

Here is new criteria for future high school graduates:

For UT Knoxville

  • Students must either earn a 4.0 cumulative grade point average (GPA) or finish in the top 10% of their high school class.
  • And students need a 24 ACT composite score (or an SAT score of at least 1160-1190).

For UT Chattanooga, UT Martin and UT Southern:

  • Students must either earn at least a 3.2 cumulative GPA or finish in the top 10% of their high school class.
  • And students need a 23 ACT composite score (or an SAT score of at least 1130-1150).

Boyd presses UT promisea last-dollar scholarship that covers tuition and fees for students in households earning $75,000 or less per year.

Adding to Tennessee’s workforce with UT graduates

With 13,459 graduates last year, UT is a major provider in Tennessee’s workforce. Boyd wants to continue building the workforce of the future and meet the demands of the market.

By 2030, Boyd wants 16,000 students graduating each year.

UT Knoxville will add four degree programs around emerging fields, including artificial intelligence and computer science. UT System leaders organize their campuses around producing and retaining workers here in Tennessee.

Keenan Thomas is a higher education reporter. E-mail [email protected]. X, formerly known as Twitter @specialk2real.

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