The University of Tennessee is the state’s land-grant, higher education institution and flagship public university. It is comprised of campuses at Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Martin; the Health Science Center at Memphis; the Space Institute at Tullahoma; and the statewide Institute of Agriculture and Institute for Public Service.

The University of Tennessee System has a presence in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties. Through the combined force of its education, research, and outreach, the University serves students, business and industry, schools, governments, organizations, and citizens throughout the state.


The University of Tennessee is the state’s oldest and largest public higher education institution, tracing its beginnings to the founding of Blount College in Knoxville in 1794, two years before Tennessee became a state. The UT System was formed in 1968.
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The 24-member UT Board of Trustees governs the University of Tennessee System. Members include business and community leaders from across the state and UT students and faculty.

Strategic Plan

The UT System Administration Strategic Plan, launched in June 2012, establishes a vision and direction for the next five years, with the following clearly defined goals to ensure good stewardship and purposeful use of resources:

1. Enhancing educational excellence

2. Expanding research capacities

3. Fostering outreach and engagement

4. Ensuring effectiveness and efficiency

5. Advocating for the University of Tennessee System

Our Mission


Each year more than 11,000 students graduate from UT campuses across the state and earn bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and professional degrees. The UT System enrolls a little more than 49,000 undergraduate and graduate students statewide each year. The University has an active role in helping the state of Tennessee achieve Gov. Bill Haslam’s “Drive to 55” initiative that seeks to increase the number of Tennesseans with at least a two-year degree to 55 percent by 2025. UT faculty and staff on each campus are working on improvements to graduation and retention rates, which are rewarded by state appropriations approved and funded through the Complete College Tennessee Act (CCTA). The CCTA replaced a funding formula that rewarded inputs such as headcount instead of results such as progression toward a degree.

UT Knoxville (70.3 percent) leads all public institutions in Tennessee in the six-year graduation rate, UT Martin (45.7 percent) ranks third and UT Chattanooga (43.6 percent) is fourth. In 2015, the UT System, in partnership with the state’s public and private colleges and universities, launched a unique program called Tennessee Reverse Transfer. The program allows students who transfer from a Tennessee community college before earning a two-year degree to retroactively receive that credential when requirements are met in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree. So far, more than 1,100 reverse transfer degrees have been awarded to Tennessee transfer students.



Research is an important part of the mission of a land-grant institution. At the University of Tennessee, faculty and students of every campus are involved in research, which adds to the body of knowledge in academic disciplines and provides solutions to everyday problems. In FY15, the UT System had $436 million in research and sponsored program expenditures.

A unique aspect of the University’s research enterprise is the longstanding partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the nation’s largest science lab of the Department of Energy with an annual budget of more than $1.4 billion. Through UT-Battelle, the University has served as co-manager of the lab since 2000, and UT is the largest research partner of ORNL with 214 UT faculty members who are jointly appointed with the lab. UT and ORNL have five joint institutes concentrating on advanced materials (JIAM), heavy ion research (JIHIR), biological sciences (JIBS), neutron sciences (JINS) and computational sciences (JICS). Sixteen distinguished scientists and engineers have been appointed as UT-ORNL Governor’s Chairs since the program began in 2006. All have joint appointments with ORNL and are top experts in their fields.

In 2015, the White House announced UT as the leading partner for the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI). Established as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) in Tennessee by the UT Research Foundation, IACMI is a national institute built on core partnerships with industry, research and university leaders nationwide. The U.S. Department of Energy supported institute conducts research, development, and demonstration programs with a focus on reducing technical risk and developing a robust chain to support a growing advanced composites industry. In July 2016, the White House announced UT’s participation in the Southeast Manufacturing Innovation Hub. IACMI will use this opportunity to build on the growing partnerships between institutions in the region while working toward technological innovation to improve the efficiency of advanced manufacturing in the United States.
The University of Tennessee continues to seek new opportunities for partnering with the private sector. The partnerships will leverage the UT-Oak Ridge relationship and the growing expertise of the University’s research faculty.

Cherokee Farm Innovation Campus in Knoxville is the ultimate realization of connections between UT, ORNL and industry. The first building, completed in 2015, houses JIAM. The second building, a 45,000-square-foot building announced in May 2016, will house Civil & Environmental Consultants, the campus’ first private tenant. The move will allow Pittsburgh-based CEC to partner more closely with the University of Tennessee and ORNL and better reach its clients throughout the region. Cherokee Farm looks forward to announcing additional private tenants in the first building and more buildings in the future.

The UT Research Foundation (UTRF) has the important function of identifying technologies suitable for commercialization and helping bring faculty intellectual property to the marketplace. UTRF filed 67 patents in FY15, and 135 U.S. patents have been issued to UT in the last five years. There were 25 patents issued, 43 licenses and options issued, four startup companies created and 116 inventions disclosed in FY15. In 2013 and 2014, UTRF was listed among the world’s top universities for producing U.S. utility patents granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.



Through each campus, the Institute for Public Service (IPS) and the Institute of Agriculture (UTIA), UT has a presence in all 95 counties in Tennessee. The University provides training and educational programs for Tennesseans of all ages, from 4-H for schoolchildren to certifications for law enforcement and government officials, from parenting classes for young adults to business development workshops for entrepreneurs.

The University engages the community through fine arts that bring the public to campuses. Faculty, staff and students take their skills into communities to volunteer and provide training, consulting and assistance in schools, businesses and organizations. Hundreds of adults and children are helped every year by medical and dental clinics of the UT Health Science Center, and the College of Veterinary Medicine serves pets, livestock and zoo inhabitants.

IPS assisted businesses in generating more than $817 million in economic impact for Tennessee in FY15. IPS agencies received more than 28,000 requests for assistance and trained nearly 15,000 government employees, law enforcement members and industry workers in FY15.

UT Extension, a part of UTIA, made more than 4.4 million contacts in 2015 in providing assistance in areas such as financial and crisis counseling, education on nutrition and combating diseases like Type 2 diabetes. AgResearch, the research arm of UTIA, recorded 69,000 contacts through attendance at field day events and the work of its faculty in FY15. The College of Veterinary Medicine treated more than 32,000 patients in FY15.

Updated July 2016