By Dewayne Bingham, Staff Writer —
The UTC Founder’s Week drew to a close on Friday with Chancellor Steven Angle’s State of the University address.
A crowd featuring current and former students and faculty along with prominent community leaders, such as Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke and River City Company Kim White, gathered in the outdoor forum of the University’s newest housing facility, West Campus, to hear the Chancellor’s remarks.
Chancellor Angle began by calling his message, “one of optimism, hope, and a call to action.”
He emphasized that although students and faculty should be proud of the many achievements and accomplishments they’ve worked so hard for, there lies a long road ahead.
“We cannot afford to sit back and reflect on our accomplishments when so much remains to be done,” Angle said.
The University’s goals for its 2015-2020 Strategic Plan highlight the areas it has invested the greatest time and energy.
By providing students with learning experiences that reach beyond the classroom, striving to integrate creativity and innovation with scholarship, promoting stewardship of resources, and embracing diversity, UTC has established itself as a leader in higher education.
For four years in a row, UTC has been the top-performing university on board with the Complete College Tennessee Act, earning $3.6 million in state funding for the 2019 fiscal year alone.
The CCTA awards funding to universities based on metrics such as graduation rates, job placement, research, service, and workforce training.
Chancellor Angle also cited strong enrollment numbers and a twenty percent increase in degrees awarded per year since 2014 as further examples of what the university has accomplished.
He also noted that even without factoring in the $40 million gift from Gary and Kathleen Rollins toward the Gary W. Rollins College of Business, gifts and pledges to the University have increased from $6.4 million in 2014 to $17.2 million in 2018.
The challenge extended by Chancellor Angle, however, implies that the financial prosperity of a university does not inherently yield a valuable education for its students.
“A student who excels in the classroom must also engage and contribute in the larger community,” Angle said, emphasizing the importance of personal development while attending college.
The crux of Angle’s address, the key to ensuring continued success and providing students with a truly valuable education, was centered around the idea of stewardship, the responsible investment of those extensive resources, and embracing change.
Angle characterized the recent and ongoing construction on the University’s campus as “positive momentum.”
Over the past five years, nearly half a billion dollars has been spent on projects like the West Campus Housing Complex, tennis courts, the intramural sports complex, renovations to Crossroads, Guerry and Holt Hall, and many others, some of which are still in the planning stages.
Angle also highlighted areas where the University has seen potential for significant returns on future investment. These include a new Health Science building, entrepreneurial initiatives within the Gary W. Rollins College of Business, development of UTC’s teacher education program, and advancements in the field of modeling, simulation, and data analytics.
According to Vice Chancellor of Communications and Marketing George Heddleston, though, the University’s progress has seen its fair share of challenges.
“In this fast-paced day and age, there are lot of disruptions,” Vice Chancellor Heddleston said, “and that’s not always a bad thing, because they change the status quo.”
In his State of the University address, Dr. Angle also acknowledged the potential for growth in the face of adversity.
“UTC must strive to embrace change and challenges…Our goal is to be on the cutting edge of delivering outcomes geared toward where we are going and not to hold on to where we have been,” Angle said.
Surrounded by the colleagues whose efforts he credited for making everything possible, Chancellor Angle concluded afternoon festivities by cutting the ceremonial ribbon in front of the new West Campus housing facility.
“The cutting of the ribbon is representative, in a small way, of all the positive change to come on our campus,” Vice Chancellor Heddleston said.