University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro will present his second State of the University address in Nashville on Tuesday.
DiPietro acknowledged the great leadership at each of the system's schools, welcoming new UT Knoxville Chancellor Beverly Davenport. He highlighted recent achievement for all the campuses, but emphasized they are all united.
"We are the University of Tennessee, Knoxville….UT Chattanooga….UT Martin….the UT Health Science Center…the Institute of Agriculture…and the Institute for Public Service. We are almost 50,000 students, 12,000 employees, and 370,000 alumni," he said. "And yet—We are one. We’re stronger as one than we could be separately. There isn’t a county in the state we don’t touch, not an elected district we don’t serve."
DiPietro acknowledged diversity issues, in light of recent issues on the Knoxville campus, and emphasized that is will remain a priority for the system.
"Some may debate the degree to which the world is changing in terms of diversity, but the reality of that change is a fact. And diversity in the world is much more than black and white," he said. "Diversity encompasses many aspects—gender, sexual orientation, religious belief, geography, physical ability, socioeconomic status, military veteran status, and family educational attainment, among others."
He went on to say: "Respect for differing viewpoints, recognition of other perspectives, and understanding the diversity of people enables our students to grow in ways that better prepare them for the workforce."
He touted efforts to bridge the funding gap at UT, working to cut costs and increase revenues, and not relying on tuition increases to cover the costs.
"In 2016, for the second straight year, tuition increases were 3 percent or less. That’s the lowest in more than three decades," he said. "And I can assure you we’ll make it three years in a row in 2017."