Growing up, Dr. Steven R. Angle always thought he would become a veterinarian. However, college changed his career trajectory. During his B.A. degree in Chemistry from the University of California, Irvine, a required chemistry class turned into an “a-ha” moment, which was ironic because he disliked chemistry in high school. “Once I found that love, it steered me down a road—which eventually led to a faculty position and dean’s role at the University of California, Riverside and provost at Wright State University in Ohio,” recounts Dr. Angle.
Today, in the heart of Chattanooga, Dr. Angle leads the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga as its 17th Chancellor. From the outset, his mission was clear: prioritize student success and strengthen community bonds. “I am honored to serve as the chancellor of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. UTC is a special place, not because of our beautiful park-like campus or our incredible facilities, but because of the people who are UTC. It is the people that make UTC special. We are driven by our desire to provide the best possible education to our students and positively impact our community,” shares Dr. Angle.
Under the leadership of Dr. Angle, UTC is committed to providing the best education and making a positive impact on the community. “It is the people who are UTC,” he reiterates, highlighting the genuine spirit that defines the university. The tight-knit UTC community fosters not only academic growth but also social support, improved mental and physical health, and greater civic engagement. Dr. Angle underscores the university’s unique commitment to civic engagement, a defining aspect of its identity. “As a metropolitan university, civic engagement is in our DNA,” he explains. UTC encourages students to become active citizens and leaders through service learning, community outreach, internships, and volunteer work.
What drew him to Chattanooga was the prospect of making a difference in a metropolitan setting. “Chattanooga and the region are our laboratory,” he notes. The intertwining growth of UTC and Chattanooga has been a source of excitement for Dr. Angle, who sees the university not as an isolated institution but as an integral part of the community, shaping the future of the region.
At the Crossroads of Excellence
As we approach the end of 2023, Dr. Angle reflects on the start of his second decade at UTC with a resolute commitment to excellence. “We are Chattanooga’s university, and this has become part of our identity,” he declares, embodying the university’s integral role in the fabric of the city. Over the past 10 years, UTC has undergone a transformative journey, with a keen understanding of its purpose, identity, and impact on lives, community, and society. Dr. Angle emphasizes the need for actions that are not only relevant but also easily understood and impactful, underscoring the importance of innovation while staying true to the university’s core values.
“Our aspirations must embrace the increasing pace of technological change,” Dr. Angle asserts, calling for bold leaps forward rather than incremental steps down familiar paths. This forward-looking mindset is evident in the impressive 10-year snapshot of UTC’s achievements. The university has witnessed a remarkable doubling of its four-year graduation rate, reaching a six-year graduation rate of 53%, rising to an impressive 91% for student-athletes. Research grants have soared by 52%, surpassing $14 million, while donor gifts have seen a remarkable increase of 131%, culminating in the university’s biggest fundraising year ever in 2018 with $56.8 million. Notably, that year marked the naming of the Gary W. Rollins College of Business, a testament to the growing support for UTC.
In the realm of education, University High, a unique dual enrollment program, symbolizes a commitment to student-focused education. The largest freshman class ever entered UTC in Fall 2023, setting the stage for a vibrant academic community. Acknowledging the driving force behind these achievements, Dr. Angle attributes success to the talented people at UTC and in the community. “Our faculty and staff and their passion to be difference makers in the lives of our students, in our community, our state, and our nation. This is our success,” he affirms.
The past accomplishments fuel a bold vision for the future, with a focus on making the next 10 years the best ever for UTC. The collaborative partnership between the campus and the UTC community has not only benefited the city and region but has also built a robust talent base for workforce development. UTC’s commitment to workforce development is not just theoretical; it is woven into the educational fabric. Students engage in real-world problem-solving, applying classroom knowledge to regional challenges. The university’s emphasis on internships and collaborative projects with businesses ensures that students graduate job-ready, contributing to the local workforce.
As a meaningful community partner, UTC challenges the status quo and inspires a creative culture. From the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to the Master of Public Health program and the College of Engineering and Computer Science’s outreach initiatives, the impact of the community on student educational experiences is evident. Dr. Angle shares, “Student participation in community service and community engagement are not just phrases; they are focal points and part of the fabric of the institution.” As UTC looks ahead, the commitment to excellence, innovation, and community engagement remains steadfast, laying the foundation for a decade of even greater achievements. Stay tuned as we explore the exciting journey of UTC into the future.
Pioneering Innovation, Shaping the Future of Academia and Community
In the ever-evolving landscape of academia, UTC continues to blaze a trail of innovation, and this year marked a significant milestone with the launch of the UTC Research Institute, a strategic initiative poised to elevate the university’s research endeavors. Spearheaded by the dynamic leadership of Dr. Mina Sartipi, the Institute embarks on a mission to secure increased research funding, foster interdisciplinary collaboration, and address community and local industry priorities.
At the core of the UTC Research Institute lies a commitment to impactful and broad cross-disciplinary research, positioning Chattanooga as a hub for mobility electrification, connectivity, and automation. Dr. Sartipi, along with the Center for Urban Informatics and Progress (CUIP), embodies a legacy of innovative and cutting-edge research, showcasing how UTC is actively shaping the community for the future.
One of the distinctive features of the Research Institute is its inclusive approach, engaging all colleges and departments at UTC in defining ambitious outcomes that transcend individual departments’ capacities. Dr. Sartipi and her team are not confined to campus boundaries; they actively involve the community and strive to forge strategic partnerships that extend the reach of their research.
“The Research Institute narrows and intensifies our focus on strategic areas of research funding. Two initial focus areas are transportation—intelligent transportation systems, electric vehicle and battery technologies, human factor, automation, multimodal systems, policy and planning, cybersecurity, privacy and infrastructure—and quantum technologies (computing, sensing and networks),” shares Dr. Angle.
UTC’s quantum endeavors are particularly noteworthy, as the university collaborates with EPB and other partners to establish the nation’s first industry-led, commercially available quantum network, with a node on the UTC campus. This initiative extends beyond the theoretical realm, as UTC actively expands its quantum physics faculty, develops a curriculum to prepare a quantum-ready workforce, and serves as a gateway for building partnerships. The envisioned quantum network is poised to be a magnet for entrepreneurship, partnerships, and talent, positioning Chattanooga at the forefront of quantum exploration.
Building on these strides, the UTC Smart City program, orchestrated by Dr. Sartipi and CUIP, secured an impressive $9.2 million in funding, a historic achievement for the university. This funding facilitates the creation of a networked system, establishing Chattanooga as the nation’s largest electric vehicle “living testbed.”
The transformative journey of UTC extends beyond research initiatives, with substantial investments in campus infrastructure. The $50-million UTC Library project stands as a beacon of knowledge, attracting over 3 million visits within its first five years. The revitalization of key campus hubs, including Lupton Hall, Guerry Center, and the University Center, reflects a commitment to providing students with vibrant spaces for interaction and collaboration.
Looking ahead, the Dorothy and Jim Kennedy Health Sciences Building, slated for groundbreaking in fall 2024, promises to be a cornerstone of excellence for the UTC School of Nursing. This 90,000-square-foot structure will house cutting-edge simulation labs, state-of-the-art classrooms, and collaborative spaces, underscoring the dedication of faculty, staff, and students to advancing health care education.
In the tapestry of UTC’s journey, Tennessee government support has played a pivotal role, with well over $1 billion invested since 2010. This support has fueled transformative projects and initiatives, contributing to the university’s ascent as a vibrant and forward-thinking institution. As UTC continues to push boundaries, forge partnerships, and redefine the future of education, the trajectory is clear: a commitment to excellence, innovation, and community engagement that propels the university toward new frontiers. Stay tuned as we navigate through the evolving chapters of UTC’s inspiring narrative.
Embracing Green Harmony
In the midst of Chattanooga’s urban landscape, UTC stands as a testament to the harmonious coexistence of education and nature. “As a metropolitan university, we have a strong history of creating and sustaining green spaces to enhance our urban environment for residents, students and visitors,” states Dr. Angle.
At the heart of this commitment to environmental stewardship lies the UTC Arboretum, a haven that not only conserves but also proudly showcases the diverse array of plants that enhance Chattanooga’s urban environment. The arboretum, spanning the campus’ 120 acres, is a living testament to the heritage of the UTC urban forest, harboring trees that pre-date the very establishment of the campus. A symphony of nearly 2,000 trees and woody plants, representing over 60 species, adorns the campus grounds, serving both scientific and educational purposes while adding ornamental charm.
For a remarkable decade, UTC has earned the prestigious title of “Tree Campus USA,” a designation bestowed by the National Arbor Day Foundation. This accolade recognizes the university’s unwavering commitment to fostering healthy trees and actively involving students and staff in conservation efforts. The lush greenery, carefully curated gathering spaces, expansive lawns, and pedestrian-friendly walkways are not merely aspects of the campus; they are integral components meticulously integrated into UTC’s Master Plan.
UTC’s green campus isn’t just a source of pride; it’s a living manifestation of the university’s role as a working partner in Chattanooga’s national recognition as an environmental and outdoor activity leader. The commitment to maintaining the campus’s natural beauty is evident in ongoing construction and renovation projects, where native vegetation, green spaces, and permeable walkways find a home. Even in recent endeavors, such as the beautification projects along Vine and Oak streets, the incorporation of these elements is a deliberate choice, showcasing a dedication to sustainability and aesthetic appeal.
“Our green campus is a never-ending point of pride; keeping it beautiful is just one way we continue to be a working partner in the national recognition of Chattanooga as an environmental and outdoor activity leader,” says Dr. Angle.
As UTC continues to evolve, the lush green spaces remain a defining feature, inviting students to connect with nature amid their academic pursuits. The university’s commitment to environmental responsibility and the integration of green initiatives into its ongoing development projects underscore UTC’s role not just as an institution of higher learning but as a custodian of nature within the heart of Chattanooga. In the continuous interplay between education and the environment, UTC stands as a beacon of sustainable practices, contributing to the broader narrative of Chattanooga’s commitment to a greener, more vibrant future.
Dedication to Student Success and Holistic Growth
What sets UTC apart is the quality of its student body. The statistics speak volumes: over 92% of incoming freshmen students boast a high school GPA of 3.0 or higher. Beyond academic excellence, the university is steadfast in its mission to make higher education accessible. In Fall 2022, an impressive 99% of incoming freshmen students received financial aid, turning a college degree into an affordable and intelligent investment in their future. UTC is not just providing access; it is actively setting its students up for success. “Students are the reason we exist. Students, our core mission. Enrollment, retention, progression, and graduation will all continue to increase,” states Dr. Angle.
The pursuit of excellence extends beyond academic achievements. It involves the meticulous intertwining of the academic experience with student life—a commitment to evolution. The unveiling of “A Moc’s First Year,” a visionary Quality Enhancement Plan, demonstrates UTC’s dedication to enhancing the freshman experience. Designed to boost retention and graduation rates, this program forms a centralized learning community model, fostering increased interaction between students and faculty, a heightened sense of community on campus, stronger connections to Chattanooga, and, ultimately, greater UTC student success.
The evolution of housing at UTC reflects a commitment to enhancing student life. The introduction of new housing in 2018 led to the creation of residential colleges, faculty in residence, and Living Learning Communities. Looking ahead, plans for a new 700-bed student housing complex in this decade underscore UTC’s commitment to providing a vibrant and supportive living and learning environment.
Beyond the classroom, UTC students are actively engaged in a rich tapestry of experiences. From creative and diverse learning opportunities to impactful capstone projects, life-changing study abroad programs, cutting-edge research, and community engagement, UTC serves as a dynamic springboard for students to explore, discover, and commence writing their next chapters.
UTC’s Resilience, Growth, and Vision for a Tech-Infused Future
The crucible of the COVID-19 pandemic presented unparalleled challenges to universities worldwide, and UTC emerged from this tumultuous period not only as a resilient institution but as a community that weathered the storm together. “We lived our values and together came through one of the most challenging times in our history, and we have come out of the pandemic on an upswing,” shares Dr. Angle.
A testament to this resilience is the fall freshman class, the largest in UTC’s history. The incoming first-time, full-time freshman class of 2,359 marks a 5.8% increase from the previous fall, aligning with the university’s growth trajectory from pre-COVID years. The freshman-to-sophomore retention rate of 74.3% surpasses rates from any pre-COVID year, reflecting a strong commitment to academic continuity and student support.
The overall headcount at UTC this fall stands at 11,380—a 0.9% increase from the previous year, comprising 9,982 undergraduates and 1,398 graduate students. The uptick in new graduate students, a 12.9% increase, signals a growing market for advanced education, demonstrating that UTC remains at the forefront of providing opportunities for lifelong learning.
Looking to the future, UTC is poised at the intersection of the digital revolution’s technology crossroads, with the momentum gained from generative artificial intelligence and the potential applications of quantum technology. As the university imparts knowledge and instills a commitment to lifelong learning in the next generation, the challenges and questions that arise are met with a spirit of inquiry and contrarian thinking.
Preparing students to be problem solvers and critical thinkers, UTC recognizes the need to navigate the benefits and limitations of emerging technologies such as quantum and artificial intelligence. The evolving landscape of business, increasingly influenced by quantum and AI, necessitates an educated workforce that can effectively apply these technologies.
In response to the demand for skills development in the current workforce, UTC’s Center for Professional Education emerged as a game changer. Offering non-college credit certificates in areas vital to the local economy, the center plays a pivotal role in workforce development, aligning education with practical industry needs.
The fall semester saw UTC engaging in campus open forums, delving into discussions on the application of generative AI in instruction, business operations, and research. These forums, rich with opportunities and challenges, have provided valuable insights for strategic investments as UTC positions itself at the forefront of technological integration while maintaining a steadfast focus on students and excellence.
As UTC charts its course into a future shaped by technology, the university acknowledges that its greatest asset is its people. The faculty and staff, integral to UTC’s success, are empowered, invested in and poised to lead the way in integrating new tools into the fabric of the institution. In this dynamic landscape, UTC continues to evolve, ensuring that innovation, excellence, and a commitment to student success remain at the forefront of its mission. The university’s journey through the challenges of the past has not only strengthened its resolve but has set the stage for an exciting and exhilarating future.
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