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Message from the Dean – Welcome to Spring 2021

I am excited to welcome you to campus for the start of the spring 2021 semester. The past months have been hard on our entire community as we have battled the coronavirus, lived through political strife, and faced systemic racism. In spite of these difficulties, I enter this new semester with renewed hope for the future. Our university is poised to provide you with resources that support your academic journey and your personal well-being. Our students are the heart of the institution, and we continually strive to provide you with an environment that allows you to achieve your dreams. The Graduate School staff fully embraces Chancellor Plowman’s directive to face our challenges 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. Vaccines are becoming available and throughout spring 2021, these vaccines will be distributed according to state and federal directives. But as we await the vaccine, it is imperative that we continue to practice these important safety measures.

The hardships we faced in 2020 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 are available to provide you with help. It is 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. 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 which will connect you with resources across our campus. You can also contact the Graduate School by emailing gradschool@utk.edu. Our staff stands ready to support you.

As we enter this new year, I expect both challenges and opportunities to come our way. 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. 

Be Well! Go Vols!!

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