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Marking Milestones

Earth Day CookiesFifty-one years ago today, Senator Gaylord Nelson created Earth Day as a way to get environmental issues onto the national agenda. It is a day of education about environmental issues and an opportunity for each of us to reflect on our roles in creating a healthier planet. Amidst all the turmoil with the global pandemic, I find it useful to take a moment and reflect on the beauty of Southern Appalachia, especially this time of year when the landscape is alive with color and activity. With the end of the spring semester just around the corner, I hope that a moment of quiet reflection will help calm our racing minds.

With spring comes graduation and I am excited to celebrate our graduates in-person this year! Thank you to our faculty and staff who have helped our students make it to this milestone in their lives.

Speaking of milestones, June 1 marks the first in a series of steps we will take to resume a full on-campus experience by fall semester. To those of you who have worked from home for the past year and may be nervous about returning, I hope you will take comfort in knowing we will continue to follow all CDC guidelines to keep our campus community safe. Indeed, the campus population will remain rather light during the summer, so it is a good time to become reacclimated with commuting and inhabiting your workspace. I look forward to the next couple of months as we slowly rebuild our vibrant Volunteer community. I have missed the hubbub and the chance conversations on a busy campus.

Next week, the digital version of our 2020 college annual report will arrive for our alumni, donors, students, and all faculty and staff in the college. The theme of the annual report is adaptability – something we all appreciate. In my message, I address the many adaptations of the past year as we adjusted teaching, research, home life, and self-care in response to the global coronavirus, and our personal education and changed priorities in response to the confrontation of systemic racial injustice in our communities. We share a sliver of the work we are doing to promote UT as a welcoming place for all and a place where everyone matters and belongs. I hope you enjoy reading the collection of stories.

As always, thank you for your work and continued dedication to our students, your colleagues, the college and the wider community.


Theresa M. Lee
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

Photo by sheri silver on Unsplash