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Strategic Plan

Ayres Hall Front View 2011

Strategic Plan for the College of Arts and Sciences
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Accepted September 2017

Gateway of Knowledge

The College of Arts and Sciences is the gateway to knowledge for every undergraduate student who enrolls at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences provides the foundational instruction for these students, helping them to put down the roots that will nurture their lifelong learning.

Old Picutre of Ayres HallAs the first public university and institution of higher education in the state of Tennessee, the tradition of the College of Arts and Sciences is deeply rooted in providing an education that develops broad intellectual capacities instead of focusing on specific technical skills. In the College of Arts and Sciences, we adhere to the basic philosophy to empower individuals with broad knowledge, transferable skills, and provide a strong sense of values, ethics, and civic engagement.

In 1869, the University of Tennessee became a land-grant university, which broadened the institutional focus from a liberal arts college to include public agricultural and mechanical colleges. The foundation of a liberal arts education, however, was not lost in the reorganization. The addition of professional colleges, such as agriculture, law, and medicine, built the university’s reputation as a comprehensive academic institution while at the same time maintaining at its academic core a broad general education curriculum.

As the flagship campus for the University of Tennessee system, we have the opportunity to educate Tennesseans from across the state. By providing undergraduate students with access to new and diverse ways of problem solving, communicating, and interacting with each other, we can make an impact on the future of the state of Tennessee.

About the College


The College of Arts and Sciences is the oldest college at the University of Tennessee. In 1794, Blount College opened its doors to offer a broad education in the arts and sciences and became one of the first colleges established in the state of Tennessee. For more than 100 years, Blount College (renamed University of Tennessee in 1879) remained one institution until President Brown Ayres reorganized it into different colleges with independent academic units. By 1913, each academic unit had its own dean and the separation of responsibilities laid the groundwork for what would become the comprehensive academic institution of the University of Tennessee.

StudentsThe College of Liberal Arts, however, continued to function as the academic core of the university, providing both discipline specialization in sciences and the humanities and general education for students in engineering, agriculture, law, medicine, and dentistry. In 1994, it was renamed the College of Arts and Sciences.

Today, it remains the gateway of knowledge for every undergraduate student enrolled at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. With 21 academic units and schools, eight centers and institutes, and 12 interdisciplinary programs that span the disciplines of the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and the visual and performing arts, the College of Arts and Sciences remains the largest, most comprehensive and most diverse of the 11 colleges and the central driver of academic accomplishments at UT.

Over 8,000 undergraduate students have an academic home in one of the college’s 141 undergraduate majors, minors, concentrations, honors and pre-professional programs. The college also offers more than 50 graduate programs to a population of 1,300 graduate students. More than 600 faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences provide instruction for 53 percent of all student credit hours across the university. Of those, 420 are fulltime, tenure-track, research-active faculty.


Our college is guided by adherence to core values that define the Volunteer spirt and permeate who we are, what we do, and our approach to living and learning at UT and beyond. As a college, we seek to promote the values of free, bold, and ethical intellectual inquiry; vibrant and effective civic engagement; respect for diversity and cultural variety; and an understanding of and appreciation for our nation and world’s rich natural and cultural heritages.


We seek to excel among public research universities across the disciplines of humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and the visual and performing arts. We will provide the foundation for nurturing lifelong learning and engagement in our graduates. We will attract and sustain faculty who pursue path-breaking research and creative expression that enriches lives and seeks solutions to society’s problems. We will promote diversity and inclusion in order to prepare our students to be innovative citizen leaders on a global stage.

The vision of the college contributes to that of the university by providing research and teaching excellence, providing students with opportunities to apply what they learn by working with highly productive and respected faculty on campus and in community outreach locally and around the world. The faculty and students embrace and are committed to the volunteer difference as part of the goal to balance excellent education and research in a top public research and land grant university.


Our mission is to uphold the highest standards of academic freedom and integrity and to cultivate in our students the critical thinking skills, intellectual inquiry, and understanding of diverse human cultures that are necessary to become engaged global citizens. By emphasizing core values of life-long learning and adaptability, our academic programs provide students with the intellectual foundations for a rich, fulfilled, engaged life and career as an informed citizen. We seek to teach empathy and self-knowledge throughout our college. We will spread cultural and scientific literacy across the state of Tennessee and beyond. By doing so we serve all aspects of the university’s mission.

Read more about the College of Arts and Sciences, our goals, and priorities in the 2017 Strategic Plan.