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Message from the Dean – Welcome to Fall 2020

I am excited to welcome you to campus for the start of the fall 2020 semester. The university faculty, staff and administration have never been more prepared to start a school year. Since May, we have been hard at work preparing for the return of students. We have reconfigured the timetable, adjusted teaching modalities, rearranged classrooms, purchased PPE, and prepared for a range of contingencies. We have taken to heart Chancellor Plowman’s directive to face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic with creativity, flexibility and compassion.

As you navigate the fall semester, there are a number of resources available for your use. UT’s COVID-19 website is continually updated with the latest information, and the Graduate School has a COVID-19 website with information most relevant to graduate and professional students. Be sure to read the Vol Updates that you will get through your UT email account, be attentive to emails that you receive from the Graduate School or other offices on campus, and follow the Graduate School on social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) to get updated campus information.

UT is committed to protecting the health and safety of all Volunteers. Staying well will require all of us to do our part to decrease the chances for transmission of the coronavirus. The Volunteer Commitment outlines the steps each of us must take to help keep our community safe. Please take time to study these steps and join me in committing to doing everything possible to help keep our Volunteer Family safe.

The spread of COVID-19 has impacted all of us, but I recognize that some have been impacted more severely than others. The Student Health Center and the UT Counseling Center are resources that you may need during the coming months. As is always the case, should you find yourself feeling distressed and unsure where to find support, you can call 974-HELP to access the Dean of Students Office. That office is able to connect you with resources. You can also contact the Graduate School by emailing gradschool@utk.edu. Our staff stands ready to support you.

As we go into fall 2020, we can anticipate challenges and opportunities, but that is true at the beginning of all semesters. I encourage you to enter into this semester with enthusiasm and with the knowledge that the university community is standing together to face whatever challenges come our way. It is also understandable that you might be feeling stressed or anxious due to COVID-19 or other challenges. UT has mental health resources available that you might find useful as you work to cope with stressors.

Be Well! Go Vols!!

Dixie L. Thompson
Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School