The University of Tennessee Space Institute is “significantly exceeding goals” of its revitalization plan, Donald C. Daniel told the UTSI family in reporting on his first 100 days at the Institute.
Enrollments are holding steady, research funding is increasing significantly, a new recruiting plan is in place, and metrics are being tracked in evaluating the Institute’s overall program, said Daniel, UT associate vice president and UTSI chief operating officer.
UTSI’s staff, students, and faculty assembled in the auditorium Sept. 19 to participate in a university wide celebration that featured a simulcast to all six UT campuses of an address by UT President John Petersen.
Daniel said that while enrollment of part-time and full-time graduate students and students in the year-around short course program is holding steady, his goal is to increase full-time students by 50 percent.
Stressing the need to raise the level of education in Tennessee, Daniel said more emphasis is being placed on recruiting graduate students from top engineering school and recruiting highest quality faculty. He emphasized the Institute’s tie with UT’s strategic plan for UTSI, which focuses on student access and student success, research and economic development, outreach and globalization, organization, resources and communication.
Brendan Godfrey, director of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, made his first visit to UTSI in early September, and Daniel is inviting other national research leaders to visit the Institute each month.
Godfrey’s office has “from 400 to 500 million dollars a year to spend on research, and 80 percent of this goes to universities,” Daniel noted. “I don’t want them to give it to us, but I want us to compete.”
Daniel praised the work of lead research professors and of Joel W. Muehlhauser, UT assistant vice president and UTSI dean of research in increasing UTSI’s research funding.
Advertisements to recruit eight new faculty members will begin right away, Daniel said, including two new professors in Engineering Management, and six in materials processing and propulsion. He also hopes to find an assistant vice president for research and development before Muehlhauser retires on Dec. 31.
“You can’t be a great university unless you are a research university,” he declared.
Daniel’s report came just before Petersen addressed an estimated 3,500 people from all six campuses via a simulcast. He gave an overview of UT’s revitalization plan and unveiled a new image campaign that highlights UT’s future. The statewide celebration featured pep bands, prize giveaways, mascots, and multi-media shows. UT employs more than 16,000 people who work in all 95 counties of the state, and Petersen emphasized their vital role as spokespersons.
At the Space Institute, numerous door prizes were awarded, and hot dogs with all the trimmings were served afterwards on the patio next to Woods Reservoir.
The statewide celebration drew 2,500 participants from Knoxville, 125 from UTSI, 300 each from Martin and Chattanooga, 250 from Memphis, and an estimated 100 from Nashville.
Praising the UTSI Support Council, Daniel said he had challenged Chairman Dick Farrar of Fayetteville to “grow the Council’s membership” even more to strengthen “UT’s flag ship in Middle Tennessee.” He also has suggested that the Council help to “enhance the beauty of UTSI” by financing landscaping, and to provide monetary awards to Institute employees from time to time.
“We have an exciting future,” Daniel concluded. “Let’s go for it.”