Mental health resources, online programs, & more all goals for UT in 2020

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – University of Tennessee’s Interim President, Randy Boyd, says he’s hoping to build on the momentum from last year making 2020 even better.

Boyd was tapped by UT’s Board of Trustees as the university system’s leader back in September 2018 on the heels of his campaign for governor.

On Friday, Boyd addressed the board with his 2020 goals, saying he hopes to continue making UT campuses affordable.

There’s a plan to increase enrollment to more than 51,000 students across all campuses and award more than 12,000 degrees.

Boyd creating OneUT, a program with more supportive mental health resources, “We’ve had 225 years of great years so we’ve got a huge challenge ahead of us.”

In Fall 2020, UT Promise kicks off. Boyd says they’ve been surprised by having more than 6,000 students all over the state apply.

“Access to education is critically important to me and I think our state. We need to make sure more young people have the ability to come to one of our universities, the UT Promise makes it affordable for everyone,” added Boyd.

More: UT Promise, a free tuition scholarship, unveiled by university

He also plans on developing UT Online, a joint venture between campuses, “For our state to be successful we have to be able to reach out to more adults and get them back into higher education. To do that we have to have a more effective online offering. So, it’s critical for us and for the state, for the University of Tennessee, to develop better, more accessible programs.”

There is also a plan on becoming a top university in the country when it comes to research.

“The Oak Ridge Institute is like the Manhattan Project of this decade. This is an opportunity for the University of Tennessee, Oak Ridge National Labs along with the federal government to all partners and creates new science in critical areas around artificial intelligence, bioinformatics, and quantum communications. We’ve already put together the plan. We’re looking for some funding from the state. If the state is able to support us we think we can pull down a seven to one match from the federal government. Doing that would allow us to bring on overtime 120 new faculty members, 500 new graduate students and hopefully generate over $150-million in additional research dollars,” explained Boyd.

Boyd is also hoping to grow degree options for undergraduate and graduate degrees, “Making this the greatest decade in the history of University of Tennessee is a bold, audacious goal but I think it’s accomplish-able.”

There’s also the plan to create a task force to pinpoint ways to make UT campuses among the safest in the country.

Boyd in his plan mentioned the proposed move to TVA’s East Tower, happening at the end of summer or early fall. The UT System, UT Research Foundation and UT Foundation would be making that move. Boyd saying it will increase efficiency by having teams working closer together rather than being in a number of different locations.

More: UT officials propose plan to move into TVA east tower

Knox County and TVA have been negotiating a deal that would allow the Knox County School System’s central offices to relocate to the TVA East Tower. UT would sublet space form Knox County there. Knox County Commission is set to vote on the plan later this month.

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