Greater Graduate Programs

Chancellor Jimmy G. CheekDear Alumni,

Gov. Phil Bredesen recently challenged us to make UT Knoxville a top 25 public research institution.

It’s a goal we believe is achievable—although we know it will take some work in key areas. One key area involves increasing the number of doctoral students we produce.

Graduate students contribute significantly to our research and teaching mission. Our proportion of graduate students to undergraduate students is significantly smaller than the ratio found at both our peer research universities and comparable flagship state universities.

The good news is, we are already making some strides in this area—and we’ve done it despite the tough economic times we’re in.

Through private dollars, and by reallocating existing funds and partnerships for new revenue sources, we’ve added some competitive assistantships and fellowships that will be necessary to help us recruit talented graduate students:

  • Applications are now being reviewed for 12 new slots for top graduate students in science and engineering through the recently announced UT Knoxville-Oak Ridge National Laboratory Distinguished Fellowship program.
  • Thanks to an additional $800,000 in support from the UT Athletic Department for graduate stipends, each college dean is creating new slots or enhancing existing positions for both master’s and doctorate students. This funding—part of a new $1 million revenue stream for the academic programs of the campus made possible through the new television contract with the Southeastern Conference and ESPN—will eventually create 40 new graduate slots. Because of the timing of receiving the new funds, most deans chose to supplement existing positions, with plans to create new slots in subsequent years.
  • The J. Wallace and Katie Dean Fellowship Fund program provides one-time funding for 12 new fellowships campus-wide. This will provide four years of funding for the students, with each college matching the private gift through a fee waiver or existing grant or contract. While students will pursue specific degree programs, they will be mentored by faculty, who encourage interdisciplinary connections, international collaboration, and scholarly training.
  • Private dollars also have made possible 13 new fellowships for doctoral students in the humanities and social sciences through the new Newton W. and Wilma C. Thomas Graduate Fellowships program. This one-time allocation will allow the campus to support students next fall. These graduate students will receive four years of guaranteed support, and will not have a teaching obligation during their first year.

Thank you for your continued support as we work to make our great university even greater.

Jimmy G. Cheek

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