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UT Martin chancellor: ‘Ships’ ensure institution on course

UT Martin chancellor: ‘Ships’ ensure institution on course

Posted: Thursday, September 4, 2008 9:48 am

The Messenger 09.04.08

From partnerships, internships and scholarships to championships, leadership and relationships, Dr. Tom Rakes, University of Tennessee at Martin chancellor, gave examples in his annual fall faculty address of what some of those “ships” mean to UT Martin and the region.
He also offered several observations in pursuing the institution’s goals during the current economic conditions.
“By ‘ships’ I am referring to the value we bring to ourselves, our students, alumni, friends, business, community and other stakeholders,” Rakes said.
The chancellor spoke about relationships, citing the connections faculty members foster with their students and colleagues.
“I begin by thanking so many of you who, day in and day out, take the extra effort to ensure we offer the finest learning experience we can,” Rakes told those in attendance.
He also highlighted a major partnership for the next several years that will involve components of the Tennessee Campus Compact meshed with the UT Martin American Democracy Project and a reconfigured LEAD Academy. Citizenship, leadership, internships and stewardship will all be enhanced by this initiative.
“Developing involved, informed student citizens in their academic, social and governmental communities” will continue to be a cornerstone of UT Martin’s service-learning initiatives, Rakes said.
As an outgrowth of other relationships and partnerships, he highlighted UT Martin’s major growth areas — the extended campus and online programs, which now represent about 12 percent of total enrollment.
He added to that a possible record or near-record enrollment of first-year students in the institution’s history during this fall semester.
Speaking about overall growth and progress, he said, “Through multiple sites … we are realistically positioning ourselves to be more relevant and more viable as a university.”
Additionally, Rakes cited improvements to campus facilities as a sign that goals of the past are being met.
“We completed renovation of the business building, Elam Center and a portion of the humanities building renovation and the Brehm Hall expansion is under way, not to mention more than $50 million in completed residence hall construction during the past four to five years,” he said.
The chancellor also commented about the new animal diagnostic center and improvements to athletics facilities and touted planned construction of a student recreation center, the first phase of the Fine Arts Building expansion and renovation of Duncan Ballroom in the university center.
Turning his comments to recent system-wide budget news and how that affects UT Martin, he said, “Consider three to four observations related to the positive side of what we are facing. Many share our situation … Our citizens, our alumni, the public in general are feeling the crunch. Some area businesses and non-profit groups are struggling.”
He said it appears there is continued upswing in external interest in UT Martin that is reflected in overall enrollment and supportive alumni.
Finally, he added, “We have the collective knowledge and experience to strategically plan and manage our situation.”
As part of that management, he said “strategic allocation,” planning reductions and reallocations, not an across-the-board approach, is being implemented. Resources will be maintained for the strongest, most essential, mission-linked units, programs and services. And campus-wide groups will be involved in the planning.
In closing, he said, “Consider the work environment we have, your valuable role. Consider how well off we are and how much better we are than we might be. I am asking each of you to link your ‘power of one’ — leadership, scholarship, entrepreneurship, stewardship, partnership — with at least one or two other persons as we enter this academic year.
“Our successes will not be determined by chance, but by the wise choices and decisions we make — data-driven, calculated, but tempered by the realities of our strengths as a group of professional, positive individuals.
“I expect us to have another banner year as we guide a variety of ‘ships,’” Rakes said.

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