KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The University of Tennessee is welcoming more than 30,000 students to campus this fall from all over. That’s partially due to the high retention rate the school has achieved.
While the school is celebrating these growth milestones, existing problems like housing and parking remain.
UT currently has a record-breaking 36,000 students enrolled, with 6,700 of them being freshmen living on campus. With dorms at capacity, plans are underway to ease housing woes.
“We have two new dorms underway. They won’t be available until the fall of 25, so two years. Two more years of a little bit of a tight crunch,” UT Chancellor Donde Plowman said. “I don’t think it’ll be as tight next year because there’s going to be a lot more in the market for upperclassmen on Cumberland and around. We are working hard on that.”
In the meantime, UT is looking for other ways to house students as the campus community grows.
“We have some leases on some apartments and we have some transfer students in there. It’s brand new so it’s a really beautiful space,” Plowman said. “Until we get the next new dorms, we will be looking for every creative alternative that we can.”
Despite the challenges of housing, many newcomers are happy to be on campus.
“I’m very excited, been looking forward to it for a very long time. Of course, the summer after senior year is longer because you get out earlier and start later. It’s been lots of anticipation, I am very glad to be here,” UT freshman Helayna Garlett said.
The school feels like it’s important from day one to remember why they are at UT and what their goal is. Chancellor Plowman left one final remark for students.
“It’s a great day to be a Volunteer.”
Another major issue for UT’s campus is student parking lots filling up quickly. By 10:19 Wednesday, all spots on UT’s main campus were filled and students were being shuttled to class from off-campus lots.
Chancellor Plowman said one reason parking has gotten worse is because fewer spots are open. Most of the Fall construction and other repair work will be taking place at the parking lot on the West side of Andy Holt Tower.
UT is encouraging students to take the bus to free up lots. The school has even set up efficiency lots around the edge of campus where students can park and take a shuttle.