Thanks for Your Stories
By Debbie Ingram
UT Alumni Association
This year as president of the UT Alumni Association, I’ve asked you to share with me your stories about how education transforms lives. Your stories are powerful reminders that education matters.
One of the most poignant stories I heard is that of a Tennessee mother who sold her wedding ring so that her son could attend the UT College of Medicine and become the first in the family to graduate from college. The miracle didn’t end with his generation, for his sons also graduated from UT’s medical school. On behalf of our 325,000 University of Tennessee alumni, thank you for sharing your personal stories this year.
UT alumni are actively assisting with two of the tenets of the university’s strategic plan: student access and student success. Honors dinners have been held in several communities as alumni chapters have invited the best and brightest high-school juniors to hear the message that Tennessee needs an educated workforce to meet future employment demands. The Knox County Chapter dinner reached an attendance of 650 this year! UT president John Petersen shared his personal story as a first-generation college student with a passion to study chemistry.
Alumni have accompanied campus leaders to speak in high schools across the state, especially in our rural counties with low college graduation rates of 5 to 8 percent. UTC chancellor Roger Brown shared his story as a high-school graduate working in a large factory. No one in his family had attended college. A UT alumnus recognized the young man’s potential and personally drove him to Knoxville and assisted with the registration process. Yancy Freeman, UTC director of admissions, told the students about his life growing up in an inner-city housing complex. Now with two college degrees, this first-generation college graduate is focusing efforts to improve campus diversity. UT trustee Charles Wharton watched as counselors ran out of ACT packets after listening to UTK interim chancellor Jan Simek’s personal story and words of encouragement. The outcome of these school visits can initially be seen by the responses of the students forming long lines to meet with the guidance counselors and admissions staff.
With your gifts to the Annual Fund, the UTAA provides scholarships valued at more than a half-million dollars. To meet specific campus needs, the awards process has been revised. The UT Martin scholarships are going to be awarded to high-school valedictorians. Since the mission of UTC is to be a community-engaged metropolitan campus, its scholarship recipients will be active in campus organizations. Besides the Annual Fund scholarships, the Shelby County and Davidson County UTAA Chapters have endowed scholarships for local students. Other chapters are following this lead.
In closing, it has been an honor to serve with you this year. Thank you to the outstanding staff in our alumni offices.
We are the University of Tennessee and proudly uphold the traditions of this great university.
Alumni Info: You’ll Find It on the Web
The new UT Alumni Association website offers an added dimension to your university experience.
“The site [alumni.tennessee.edu] is almost like making a new friend,” says UTAA executive director Lofton Stuart. “You can find out about events, what your friends are doing, or when your local alumni group is meeting, and you can check the schedule of alumni tours and much more. We think having all this information together in one place is a great service for our alumni.”
The Alumni Association includes graduates and former students of all UT campuses—Knoxville, Chattanooga, Martin, Tullahoma, and the Health Science Center at Memphis.
The new website continues to urge alumni to share their e-mail addresses with the university to help UT reduce mailing costs.
“Postage costs are going up again,” Stuart says. “The more information alumni can get from the website and from periodic e-mails, the less the university has to spend to stay in touch.”
In-depth information for alumni leaders, an interactive map to locate alumni chapters, and a complete events listing are user-friendly features of the site. It also has links to the UT alumni publications and features an attractive listing of the offerings of the alumni tour program.
On the Alumni Association’s webpages, you’ll notice the new Alumni Association logo, which you will see on merchandise and alumni communications.
The website was designed by Darren Hughes in UT’s Creative Communications. Lori Calvert of the alumni affairs staff coordinated content.
Register for Online Community
When you visit the new UT Alumni Association website at http://alumni.tennessee.edu/, you’ll see a prompt to “register now to connect with other UT alumni.” If you’re a UT graduate or former student and haven’t already registered with the alumni online community, this is a good time to do so.
By registering, you’ll gain access to the online directory of alumni so you can contact old friends. You’ll also be able to change and update your personal information when you change addresses or get a new job.
You also can sign up for a permanent UT e-mail address and check the list of upcoming alumni events. The online community is free to alumni of all UT campuses.