My name is Spencer Ammen and I have the privilege of serving as the Student Representative on the UT System Board of Trustees. I wanted to take the time to write this letter to explain what exactly the UT System Board of Trustees is, my role as Student Representative and some of the exciting things the board has accomplished in the past year.
The UT System Board of Trustees is the 12-member governing body of the entire University of Tennessee System, which is comprised of the campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Martin; the Health Science Center in Memphis; the Space Institute at Tullahoma; the Institute of Agriculture; and the Institute for Public Service.
As such, it oversees the biggest issues facing our universities. I have been honored to serve as the single, non-voting, student member of the board for the last seven months. My job is to advocate for and represent student voices to the other board members while respecting the important relationships between the University System and its alumni, faculty and the State of Tennessee. I’m very proud of what we have accomplished thus far, but there is still work to be done. Here is a list of a few major accomplishments from 2019:
- Hiring of Chancellor Donde Plowman: Last Spring, the board was charged with finding a replacement for Interim Chancellor Wayne Davis. Since assuming the position, Chancellor Plowman has quickly made positive impacts on UT Knoxville’s campus — the biggest of which has been working to bring students, faculty and staff together and regularly holding office hours to hear the concerns of students.
- Creation of UT Promise: This past March, President Boyd spearheaded the creation of “UT Promise.” This new scholarship will cover the last-dollar amount of tuition and fees after other financial aid is applied for any student who attends one of the UT campuses and whose family household income is below $50,000.
- Establishment of the Oak Ridge Institute at UT: In June, the Board of Trustees approved the Oak Ridge Institute at UT Knoxville. The purpose of this initiative is to increase the collaboration and partnership between UT and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. This is expected to result in over $150 million in annual research, 120 new faculty positions and 400 new graduates.
- Formation of TEAM: TEAM (the Taskforce for Effective Administration and Management) was formed to increase unity between all campuses in the UT System and to ensure that these campuses are working together in the most efficient manner possible.
Last Spring, I decided to become the Student Representative to help break down barriers between students and the administration and make sure the voice of every student is heard; however, that can only be accomplished if we all work together. While I do my best to stay informed about issues facing our campuses, it’s impossible to know everything going on all the time. I would be more than glad to meet with anyone who has questions, comments, or concerns about their UT experience, and I will do my best to help. I believe that change begins with a conversation, and I look forward to hearing from any of you. I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I wish all of you well as you continue on your UT journey.
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