By The Numbers: The University Of Tennessee Knoxville
- 220: Number of buildings
- 550: Campus size in acres
- 1,400: Number of instructional faculty (57 percent tenured)
- 5,700: Degrees awarded (2005-2006)
- 8,300: Faculty and staff
- 26,400: Enrollment
- 300,000: Number of alumni
- Source: The University of Tennessee
As the University of Tennessee faces state funding cuts reaching $25.5 million or more, new campus Chancellor Jimmy Cheek faces "tough choices," but he is "encouraged and impressed" by students and staff.
"I've learned that the students are ... very committed to their education," said Cheek, who took the reins as head of UT's flagship campus Feb. 2. "The administration and faculty are very interested in making the university a better place. We need to constantly work on being better, and I have a sense that UT's faculty, staff and students want to do that."
Student profiles have gone up, thanks to the lottery-funded HOPE scholarship, which offers in-state undergraduate students $4,000 per year.
"For six years in a row, we've let in the best freshman class we've ever had, both in terms of their high school grade-point averages and in terms of their ACT scores," said Jan Simek, UT system's acting president.
The HOPE scholarship also has enabled 99 percent of in-state undergraduates to receive discounted tuition rates at UT Knoxville, according to Provost Susan Martin.
This fall, UT will offer more financial assistance to in-state freshmen through a need- and merit-based grant program called "Achieve the Dream." It extends UT's assistance to Tennessee students from lower-middle-income families whose incomes often are too high to qualify for federal Pell Grants or UT Knoxville's Pledge Scholarship.
UT in-state tuition and fees for 2008-09 are $6,250, which makes UT Knoxville "a great bargain," Simek said.
For the university, however, it's not enough to sustain operations under current conditions. Tuition increases, as well as reductions in force, are "inevitable," according to system and campus administrators.
Cheek said he aims to minimize the impact of state budget cuts with careful planning.
"What we're going to try to do is plan that budget cut for minimal impact on the teaching, research and outreach missions of the university," Cheek said.
The campus has already launched several energy-saving initiatives, including "Make Orange Green" and "Switch Your Thinking," which aim to increase efficiency and cut energy costs by 10 percent.
Cheek emphasized the importance of UT's partnership and close working relationship with Battelle of the nearby Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which allows faculty and students to experience research and learning opportunities.
"It's a strategic opportunity for us, and I want to take as much advantage of it as possible," Cheek said.
Other projects in the works include a 200-acre research and technology site and a partnership between the UT Research Foundation and DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol LLC that will create a pilot-scale biorefinery and state-of-the-art research-and-development facility for cellulosic ethanol.
Chloe White may be reached at 865-342-6341.
© 2009, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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