BY SARAH KNAPP
UT Martin University Relations
MARTIN (January 26) – The University of Tennessee at Martin Advisory Board met virtually January 22 to discuss changes to the Title IX and Clery Act policies, as well as current and future student enrollment statistics. The board members met via Zoom in accordance with Tennessee Governor Lee’s Executive Order No. 71 to maintain social distancing for the health and safety of those participating.
Since UT Martin reinstated in-person classes the day before the meeting, Chancellor Keith Carver expressed his excitement to have students back on campus in a safe manner and how hopeful he is for the future of UT Martin during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am optimistic about our spring semester at UT Martin. I want to thank our students, faculty and staff for their creativity and flexibility in navigating the obstacles caused during the pandemic,” said Carver.
Carver also gave an update on campus construction including the Latimer Engineering and Science Building, which will open fall 2022; the installation of the Hardy Graham Stadium visitor’s bleachers, which will be finished mid-February; and the Innovation and Product Realization Facility, which is on the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s Capital Projects Recommendation List.
Ashley Blamey, University of Tennessee Title IX Compliance coordinator, updated the advisory board on the changes to the Title IX statute, which were implemented in August 2020, including changes to investigations, how live hearings are conducted with advisers and cross examinations, as well as who the new policy applies to. Blamey also addressed UT Martin’s improvement on Clery Act reporting and how the university can continue to grow into a safer, more inclusive campus.
“You’ll find that UT Martin’s policy is a bit broader than Title IX period. Your policy includes Title IX and non-Title IX (student misconduct) allegations,” Blamey explained. “That was important for campus institutions to be able to maintain control.”
To read more about Title IX, visit utm.edu/news/2020/08/17/ut-martin-implements-new-title-ix-policy/.
Chancellor Carver presented the latest enrollment statistics including more than 7,100 students at UT Martin with 1,100 students being freshmen in the class of 2024. Twenty-six percent of students are first generation, 47 percent are Pell-eligible, 83 percent receive financial aid and 38 percent graduated debt-free in 2019-20. According to Carver, the six-year graduation rate has increased six percentage points over the past four years and is currently 53.7 percent.
“We’re really happy with what we’re seeing,” Carver said. “I’m really excited about the six-percentage point jump we’ve seen in a very short time.”
Sylvia Ewell, associate vice president of Ruffalo Noel Levitz, the national research firm that helped build UT Martin’s strategic enrollment management plan, gave an overview of how the pandemic has impacted expected enrollment trends in higher education. According to RNL, the ongoing decrease in high school graduation rates, as well as the economic effect of the pandemic, will affect future college enrollment across the nation as fewer high school students will graduate and attend college.
“Overall around the country, we saw college applications were down about 10% this fall,” Ewell said.
While future enrollment is expected to decrease, UT Martin is implementing the strategic enrollment management plan to recruit and retain students, as well as introduce new academic programs for a wider variety of courses. Carver also announced a $100,000 gift by a UT Martin alumnus to the Rise Program, which is dedicated to retaining African American students through a mentorship organization.
The meeting is archived at utm.edu/advisory. The next UT Martin Advisory Board meeting will be at 1 p.m., Friday, May 21.
For more information, contact the Office of University Relations at 731-881-7615.