University of Tennessee Knoxville

Office of the Provost Newsletter


In this month’s newsletter, I want to share a few thoughts on our efforts to grow UT’s online education efforts.
For over a year now, we have been working more intentionally and intensively to build a campus infrastructure that is designed to scale up our online degree program offerings. The intensification of our efforts in online education, which long preceded the pandemic, is a direct outcome of our new strategic vision, which aims to provide more Tennesseans with access to the educational riches of our great university.
Our aim in promoting online education is to remove barriers for adult learners and open our doors to a more diverse student population.
Quality online education, however, is about more than putting classes online. It requires robust systems and processes to ensure academic rigor. It requires instructional design support for faculty, program development strategies, marketing and enrollment services, student success support, and quality control and assessment. As we continue to develop an infrastructure to assist all faculty with an interest in employing the tools of digital learning in their classrooms, we will never lose sight of our university’s commitment to excellence, access, and student success.
The campus unit focused on advancing our online initiative is now called Digital Learning, and I invite everyone to learn more about the office’s services to enhance online instruction.
While Digital Learning is at the forefront of our efforts, enhancement of online education is a strategic initiative with applications and opportunities across campus. I invite you to reach out directly to me with your ideas about the place of online learning on our campus.
Please know that I am always eager to discuss this and all initiatives under our strategic vision with individuals and groups that are interested in any of them.
John Zomchick
Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor

News and Notes

The 30-member Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) Steering Committee led by Erin Hardin, professor in the Department of Psychology, has identified six possible topics for the QEP, the campus-wide initiative undertaken as part of UT's reaffirmation of accreditation with SACSCOC. The committee is seeking feedback on the six topics.
Here is how you can help:
  • Ask your students to complete a brief survey on the six topics. Direct students to If possible, please consider giving students a few minutes in class to take the survey. You may also download a slide about the survey and share it in class. A suggested script is included in the speaker notes on the slides if you would like to say more to your students. There are multiple versions of the slides, with topic suggestions in different orders. Choose any one slide to show in class.
  • Complete the survey yourself. Your ideas will provide important feedback to the QEP Steering Committee.
In addition, the committee has scheduled a series of upcoming listening sessions. Check the schedule at and come to an upcoming session.
Registration is now open for the eighth annual Mossman Distinguished Lecture at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, November 6, in the Student Union Auditorium. This year’s speaker is renowned presidential historian, public speaker, and Pulitzer Prize-winning, New York Times #1 best-selling author Doris Kearns Goodwin. Her presentation, titled "Leadership in Turbulent Times," is free and open to the public.
First-gen faculty and staff are encouraged to update their information in the first-generation directory. The directory provides a link to resources and communication for first-gen Vols. Be sure to join the Division of Student Success at one of the following events to pick up a T-shirt, and enjoy free coffee and snacks:
  • Monday, October 23 | 9–10 a.m. at Ferris Hall Engineering Quad
  • Tuesday, October 24 | 1–2 p.m. at Henson Hall North Lawn
  • Wednesday, October 25 | 9–10 a.m. at Morgan Hall
  • Thursday, October 26 | 2–4 p.m. at John C. Hodges Library
On November 15, 2023, the Office of the Provost and Division of Student Success will present the UT Thrive Summit, a professional development opportunity open to the entire Volunteer community. In alignment with UT’s Strategic Vision and the Volunteer Experience initiative, the UT Thrive Summit invites faculty and staff to engage with and examine topics on academic success that create conditions for every student scholar to thrive and succeed. Learn more about the event and register online.


In Case You Missed It (ICYMI): Achievements, recognitions, and more good news
Zan Gao, professor and department head in the Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies, has been selected as a fellow in the National Academy of Kinesiology. Becoming a fellow in NAK is the highest recognition achieved by a scholar in the field of kinesiology. To be selected, an individual must meet rigorous criteria for scientific research, professional scholarship, leadership experience, and service to the field.
UT Faculty researchers are redefining how to tackle big problems, and four of them have been awarded prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER awards for the 2022-23 submission period. The honor is NSF’s most esteemed award in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to become academic leaders in research and education. This year's recipients are:
  • Lawrence Lee, assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy
  • Joshua Rosenberg, associate professor of STEM education science
  • Scott Ruoti, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science
  • Zhenbo Wang, assistant professor of mechanical, aerospace and biomedical engineering
There is more good news on campus than can fit in one newsletter. If you have some good news you'd like to send us for a future monthly edition, we'd love to hear it. Send a 2-3 sentence summary and link to

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Contact Us

Office of the Provost
527 Andy Holt Tower
Knoxville, TN 37996-0184
Phone: 865-974-2445

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