Advocacy 101 Series: Save the Date

UT alumnus George Shields looks on during the Knoxville Region UT Alumni Network's Advocacy 101 event.

UT alumnus George Shields looks on during the Knoxville Region UT Alumni Network’s Advocacy 101 event.

Last October, we launched a new event in partnership with the UT Alumni Association aimed at raising awareness on how and why we need alumni to serve as powerful advocates for the University of Tennessee.

Our first ‘Advocacy 101’ event was held for UT alumni residing in the Knoxville-area, and we couldn’t have asked for a better response.  We had a great turnout of engaged alumni ready to learn how they could help the University as advocates.  We are excited to announce that ‘Advocacy 101’ is continuing our statewide tour this Summer and Fall.  All UT Alumni are invited to attend… simply register at the links provided below.

Alumni Legislative Council Members R. Larry Smith, Jim Duke, President Joe DiPietro and Jason Little, left to right, speak with one another during the Knoxville Region UT Alumni Network's Advocacy 101 event.

Alumni Legislative Council Members R. Larry Smith, Jim Duke, President Joe DiPietro and Jason Little, left to right, speak with one another during the Knoxville Region UT Alumni Network’s Advocacy 101 event.

Over the next couple of months, we’ll be heading to Memphis, Nashville, and Chattanooga, working to spread the word about the UT Advocacy Network and how vital it is that alumni and friends of the University participate.  We hope you will attend one of these events and spread the word to your local UT networks.

‘Advocacy 101’ is a free event where you’ll get a unique, inside look on political issues facing the University and how alumni can help us build legislative support.  The event features a networking reception, a Q&A session with UT President Joe DiPietro, and a legislative advocacy briefing by the UT Office of Government Relations and Advocacy.

Registration is required to attend.

Interested in hosting an ‘Advocacy 101’ event in your area?  Let us know by emailing


Chattanooga, Tennessee

Date: 09/01/2015
Time: 5:30 PM
Location:  UTC Library, 600 Douglas Street, Chattanooga, TN 37403.
Cost: Free! Appetizers provided.
Deadline to register is August 26. Register Now.

Nashville, Tennessee

Date: 10/20/2015
Time: 5:30 PM
Location:  Scarritt Bennett Center, Bennett Hall, Raintree Room, 1008 19th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37212.
Cost: Free! Appetizers provided.
Deadline to register is October 13. Register Now.


Dave Ramsey Joins UT President to Make Case for “Securing Tennessee’s Future” at UT Day on the Hill

The University of TennesseeNASHVILLE – The University of Tennessee is heading into uncharted territory, seeking to cut costs while maintaining excellence in the face of projected funding gaps, and successful navigation can secure the state’s future.

That was UT President Joe DiPietro’s message to state legislators in today’s annual “UT Day on the Hill,” for which he was joined by UT Knoxville alumnus and nationally known financial expert Dave Ramsey.

At a breakfast gathering, DiPietro told legislators that an analysis based on UT’s current funding structure projects a funding gap of $377 million developing over the next 10 years.

“We don’t want to rely on tuition increases to close the gap, so we’ll find ways to cut costs and increase revenue, but as we go through this process, we will need your support,” DiPietro said. “That’s because this is about securing Tennessee’s future. The University of Tennessee is critical to our state’s future and economic success.”

Ramsey, who earned a bachelor’s degree in finance in 1982, noted about 50 percent of UT students graduate without student debt, and those who graduate with debt have levels of debt below the national average.

“People call my radio show every day, and they talk about having tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt,” Ramsey said. “Some of the lowest student loan debt in the nation is here in Tennessee. Keeping tuition affordable helps that.”

Ramsey, his wife, Sharon, and all three of their children are UT grads, as are several nieces and nephews. Ramsey said he and his family are proud of their UT legacy and that he supports DiPietro’s efforts to lead change needed to resolve funding shortfalls.

“Leading is willingness to fight for what’s right,” Ramsey said, challenging elected officials to fight for education.

While DiPietro praised Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year and said he hopes to see it approved by the legislature, a long-term approach to achieve sustainable funding remains critical.

“We’re very grateful for the budget Governor Haslam has proposed,” DiPietro said. “This would be a good budget year, and if it is, it will make this the second good year I’ve seen in almost a decade. “The problem is, we can’t continue to pass on tuition increases to cover funding gaps that accumulate in all the years that aren’t good budget years.

“We have to solve this problem. Doing so is critical to the future of Tennessee because I believe a better UT leads to better life for all Tennesseans.”

DiPietro said he’s asked each UT chancellor and the current interim vice president for public service – who heads the UT Institute for Public Service – to identify how to close funding gaps at their campus or institute while also maintaining excellence. Those proposals will become part of a two-year approach DiPietro said he has outlined for the next two UT budget cycles “in which we attack that developing funding gap.”

DiPietro, Ramsey and the leadership of each UT campus and institute were joined for UT Day on the Hill by Nashville-area UT trustees Brad Lampley, Jim Murphy, Rhedona Rose, Tommy Whittaker, student trustee Jalen Blue, and Julius Johnson, also Tennessee commissioner of agriculture. National UT Alumni Association President Tom Losh, President-Elect Alan Ledger, Alumni Legislative Council Chairman Jim Duke and students of each campus also participated in the event and visited with legislators.

UT Day on the Hill, an event coordinated by the UT Office of Government Relations and Advocacy, is the single most visible day on Capitol Hill for the University of Tennessee System and its mission.

TN Legislators Visit Oak Ridge National Laboratory

TN Reps with TN-SCORE students

State Representatives Coley, DeBerry, and Sanderson with TN-SCORE student researchers from UTK

Tennessee State Representatives Jim Coley (R-Bartlett), John DeBerry, Jr. (D-Memphis), and Bill Sanderson (R-Kenton) visited Oak Ridge National Laboratory yesterday to learn more about the unique partnership between the University, the Lab, and state and federal governments.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is managed and operated by UT through UT-Battelle with substantial support from the State of Tennessee. The University’s venture with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) yields world-leading expertise in the areas of high-performance computing, materials research, and nanotechnology. Together, the University and Lab are making major strides in science and economic development.

ORNL is the U.S. Department of Energy’s largest multiprogram science and energy laboratory, with scientific and technical capabilities spanning from basic to applied research.

We thank Representatives Coley, DeBerry, and Sanderson for spending the day at the Lab and on the UTK campus, learning more about UT’s statewide research enterprise and its impact on Tennesseans and their future.

House Speaker Beth Harwell To Tour UT Martin Parsons Center

Harwell_MediaTennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) will make her first visit to the UT Martin Parsons Center at 4:30 p.m., Monday, June 2. A tour of the new West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation Nursing Wing that will open in August is the focus of her visit to the center. The expansion will house the university’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.
Joining Harwell will be Rep. Steve McDaniel (R-Parkers Crossroads), who represents Decatur County and also serves as deputy speaker.

Initial funding for the expansion was included in the 2013-14 budget proposed by Gov. Bill Haslam and approved by the Tennessee General Assembly.  A $1 million appropriation was made to build a 10,000-square-foot addition to the current facility. The addition includes classrooms, a skills laboratory and a high-fidelity computerized simulation laboratory.

The expansion plans received an added boost when the West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation also made a $1 million commitment to the project.

“I am looking forward to seeing this new addition to the University of Tennessee at Martin in Parsons,” Harwell said about her upcoming visit. “This nursing program works with health-care facilities across the state to provide experience for its students. Their commitment to excellence means enrollment is expected to hit its highest mark next year, and I am excited to tour the facility and meet the people who make the program a success day in and day out.”

The Parsons Center will have openings for up to 30 students annually for the program. BSN program graduates will be eligible to take the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses and obtain licensure as registered nurses.

Nursing students at Parsons will receive the same experience as those students enrolled at the Martin campus. The program works with health-care facilities across the region to provide three years of clinical experience for its students. Similar programs at other institutions offer only two years of clinical experience.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the expansion is planned for August.

Building a Stronger Tennessee—UT Day on the Hill Shares Impact with Lawmakers

On February 18, advocates from across the state traveled to Nashville to share their UT story with state lawmakers.  Special guests included former Volunteer football player Inky Johnson, UT President Joe DiPietro, and each of UT’s Chancellors and Institute Heads.

The message articulated at UT Day was clear:  UT helps build a stronger future for Tennessee through programs that educate, discover, and connect.

Check out some of UT Day’s social media: