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The sunrises over the Smoky Mountains from the backside of campus outside the Communications Building on February 17, 2020. Photo by Steven Bridges/University of Tennessee

Looking Ahead

We are halfway through one of the hardest semesters we have faced as a Volunteer community and I am proud of each of you for the work you have done to stay safe. If the data holds, we have not had one faculty or staff member report a positive coronavirus test due to on-campus exposure. Very few of us are getting sick period. Thank you for the work all of you did this summer to keep our community safe. It has paid off. UT campus is one of the safest places in Knoxville.

Right now, we are scheduling courses for the spring 2021 semester. If you are not in a risky situation due to health issues or living with someone who has health issues, I encourage you to teach a hybrid course that includes some class sessions on campus. Students miss us! Teaching and learning online is hard, so if you have a class conducive to this type of hybrid model, I hope you will submit it for the spring schedule.

We have a tough few weeks ahead of us. In less than a month, people across the United States will cast their votes in an election during a time when our country is more divided than ever. I encourage you to make a voting plan and talk to your students about the importance of voting. We are at a turning point in our nation’s history and I hope each of you feel empowered to have a voice in our democratic system. Regardless of the outcome, we will continue to be here for our students – to help them make sense of the world and their place in it.

During the next six weeks, we will continue to face the uncertainties we live with today. I am confident, however, that we will do it with compassion and a commitment to our mission of upholding the highest standards of pedagogy and academic freedom while preparing our students to become engaged citizens.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me, other college leaders, or colleagues. We are in this together.


Theresa M Lee
Dean, College of Arts & Sciences