KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – University of Tennessee administrators are putting plans in place to have in-person classes when students return for the fall semester.

UT President Randy Boyd said he and the rest of the system’s task force, led by Dr. Jon McCullers, professor and chair of infectious disease at the UT Health Science Center in Memphis, “will do everything possible” to protect the health of students, faculty and staff.

“We will continually monitor the local and state health data and policies and be prepared to adjust and communicate our plans when needed,” Boyd said.

Each campus in UT system has a local task force

Each campus has created also a local task force to look at specific needs for their campus community.  The campus task forces are analyzing various scenarios, specifying campus needs, and recommending guidelines and actions.

The UT system made a transition of in-person spring classes to an online platform on March 11, increasing online semester credit hours from less than 60,000 on March 1 to more than 567,000 by March 23.

“The faculty and staff have been heroic in their efforts,” Boyd told the UT Board of Trustees at a special meeting on April 24. “It’s been inspiring to see how hard they’ve worked to make sure the students are successful.”

UT has comprehensive COIVD-19 resource guide

The UT System has a comprehensive resource guide that provides information and resources surrounding COVID-19. Students can find information on emergency funding and staff can find information on the university’s phased reintegration plan. There is also information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

All summer 2020 classes are online and most university events are canceled, including commencement. Campuses are looking at alternative commencement ceremony options.

UT Knoxville honoring graduates in virtual ceremonies beginning Thursday

UT will recognize graduates and their outstanding achievements beginning Thursday, May 7.

Upcoming celebrations are not a replacement for this year’s in-person commencement. UT plans to honor 2020 graduates on campus in person as soon as it’s safe.

“We felt it was important to do something special for our graduates in May, when they would normally walk across the stage,” UT Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman said. “UT’s Class of 2020 graduates … succeeded in the face of tremendous adversity. I’m incredibly proud of them, and I know their families and friends are as well.”

This spring, the university will award 4,625 degrees — 3,415 undergraduate degrees and 1,014 graduate degrees and certificates, including 117 law degrees and 79 veterinary medicine degrees. Additionally, 14 Air Force cadets and 17 Army cadets will be commissioned.

“While we cannot be together in person to celebrate our graduates, it does not diminish their hard work and accomplishments,” Provost David Manderscheid said.

Each college will launch a special webpage to celebrate its graduates beginning Thursday. Graduates were invited to submit a personalized slide highlighting their degree and academic honors. Messages from the dean and other special guests will also be housed on these webpages, which will remain online for one year. Visit the commencement website beginning May 7 for links to each web page.

College webpages will be showcased individually on UT’s Facebook and Twitter channels on the date and time of each college’s original ceremony. Graduates and their family members are encouraged to post pictures and shout-outs on their college’s social media posts.

The posting schedule is as follows:

Thursday, May 7

  • 9 a.m. College of Architecture and Design
  • 12:30 p.m. College of Nursing
  • 3:30 p.m. Haslam College of Business
  • 7 p.m. Graduate hooding

Friday, May 8

  • 8:30 a.m. College of Communication and Information
  • Noon College of Law
  • 3:30 p.m. Herbert College of Agriculture
  • 7:30 p.m. College of Social Work

Saturday, May 9

  • 9 a.m. College of Arts and Sciences
  • 1:30 p.m. Tickle College of Engineering
  • 5 p.m. College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences

Along with the college webpages, UT’s Army and Air Force ROTC will each host virtual commissioning ceremonies. Air Force ROTC Detachment 800 and the cadets of the Tri-Star Wing will conduct a commissioning ceremony at 5 p.m. EDT Saturday, May 9. To request a link to attend, contact Captain Monaco at

Army ROTC is hosting its virtual commissioning ceremony of the Rocky Top Battalion at 3 p.m. Thursday, May 14. To request a link to attend, contact Charlotte Longmire at by May 11.

In addition to the campus-wide celebrations, many departments, academic programs, and student life offices are hosting their own virtual graduations and award ceremonies to honor their students.

Throughout the month, graduates and their friends and family are encouraged to share graduation photos and family celebrations by tagging the UT Knoxville social media accounts and using #UTGrad2020.

University-sponsored international travel remains prohibited

All University-sponsored international travel is currently prohibited, along with nonessential domestic travel outside the state of Tennessee until further notice.