University of Tennessee-Knoxville Chancellor Beverly Davenport called for the campus community to "unleash our vision" in mapping out her plans for the university during her investiture ceremony on Friday.
The investiture is a formal academic ceremony to officials introduce the new campus leader. Davenport was selected as the university's eighth chancellor in December, and started in the position in February.
During Friday's ceremony, Davenport spoke to the campus community and other university leaders, sharing her vision for UT moving forward.
Davenport said she comes to the job with hope, compassion, commitment, endurance and "immediate intensity."
"I am proud. I am humbled. I am energized and often awestruck at this job, at this moment in the 223 years of history of this institution," Davenport said. "I look to the future with the promises of the past and the potential of now."
She said she plans to make innovation, respect and education her top priorities as the leader of UT, and said the university will be a welcoming place.
"We will be civil. We will wait out the naysayers," she said. "We will not back down or close our eyes or our hearts to bigotry or racism or hatred or fascism."
She said the campus will be open to "honest and informed intellectual debate."
"These are challenging times for sure. The nation is divided. Our communities are divided. The world is divided. But education, and higher education specifically, remains the surest path to solving the world’s grand challenges," Davenport said.
She called for the UT community to "unleash our vision," and create an "innovation hub for our generation of makers."
Davenport said the university is making student access and success a priority, and is adding nearly $50 million to the $30 million the state provides in HOPE scholarships for Tennessee residents.
"Let us give thanks for our intellectual capital and educational opportunity, our pride of place, our love of learning, our competitive spirit, and our potential that compels us upward," she said.
The university also held a tree planting ceremony in Circle Park on Wednesday as part of the investiture celebration.