About the UT System
The University of Tennessee System is comprised of campuses at Knoxville, Chattanooga, Pulaski and Martin; the Health Science Center based in Memphis; and the statewide Institute of Agriculture and Institute for Public Service.
The UT System has a presence in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties. Through the combined force of education, research and outreach, the University serves students, business and industry, schools, governments, organizations and residents statewide.
The University 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.
Read more history: tennessee.edu/history/
The UT System Administration Strategic Plan, determines the University’s vision and direction with the following goals to ensure mission fulfillment, good stewardship and purposeful use of resources:
- Enhancing educational excellence
- Expanding research capacities
- Fostering outreach and engagement
- Ensuring workforce and administrative excellence
- Advocating for UT
The UT System enrolls almost 59,000 undergraduate and graduate students statewide, and more than 13,000 students graduate from UT campuses each year with bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and professional degrees. The University has a substantial role in helping the state achieve the “Drive to 55” initiative to increase the number of Tennesseans with at least a two-year degree to 55 percent by 2025. UT faculty and staff are working to increase graduation and retention rates, which determine state appropriations approved and funded through the Complete College Tennessee Act (CCTA).
In 2023, UT Knoxville (73.5 percent) leads all Tennessee public institutions in six-year graduation rates. Other campuses six-year graduation rates are UT Chattanooga (53.1 percent), UT Martin (54.8 percent) and UT Southern (36 percent).
Research is a critical part of the University’s mission as a land-grant institution. UT faculty and students systemwide are involved in research, adding to the body of knowledge in academic disciplines and providing solutions to everyday problems. In fiscal 2022, the UT System had a record $437 million in research expenditures.
The UT System is among fewer than 10 universities across the country with a prestigious management role with a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory. Through UT-Battelle, the University has managed Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) for the Department of Energy since 2000, while UT’s collaboration with Oak Ridge dates back 75 years. ORNL is the nation’s largest open-science laboratory, with an annual budget of $1.65 billion.
The University continually seeks new opportunities for partnering with the private sector toward leveraging the UT-Oak Ridge relationship and growing expertise of the University’s research faculty.
Launched in 2021, the University of Tennessee–Oak Ridge Innovation Institute (UT-ORII) aligns the resources of statewide university system and the world’s premier research institution, UT and ORNL, to establish Tennessee as the premier hub for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) talent, innovation and industry.
UT-ORII focuses its joint research, education and workforce development efforts on two areas of national and statewide importance: clean manufacturing and advanced materials and energy storage and transportation.
UT is ORNL’s largest research partner, with more than 200 UT faculty who have joint appointments with the lab. UT and ORNL operate four joint institutes on the ORNL campus: heavy ion research (JIHIR), biological sciences (JIBS), neutron sciences (JINS) and computational sciences (JICS). The fifth UT-ORNL joint institute, in advanced materials (JIAM), is the first and only such facility in the history of the partnership to be located on UT property—the University of Tennessee Research Park at Cherokee Farm. Sixteen world-class scientists and researchers have been appointed UT-ORNL Governor’s Chairs since the program began in 2006.
The UT Research Foundation (UTRF) facilitates technology transfer – moving innovations to the marketplace – by licensing and patenting technologies from across the UT System. During fiscal year 2022, UTRF received 185 new innovation disclosures, 41 licenses were executed with 101 patents filed and 33 patents issued. UTRF actively manages more than 200 technology licenses and supports 45 active startup companies based on UT technologies. In the last five years, UTRF has filed 517 patent applications, had 158 patents issue and totaled an impact of over $710 million to benefit the region. UTRF has also been recognized nationally by the Association of University Technology Managers for its outstanding contributions in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to deliver real impact for the residents of Tennessee and around the world.
Through each campus, the Institute for Public Service (IPS) and the Institute of Agriculture (UTIA), UT has a presence in all 95 Tennessee counties.
In fiscal year 2023, IPS contributed almost $2.8 billion in customer-reported economic impact. In the same period, IPS agencies received more than 83,000 requests for assistance and trained more than 36,000 government employees, law enforcement officers and industry workers. IPS employees also made more than 710,000 contacts in fiscal year 2023.
The UT Institute of Agriculture provides solutions across the state through UT Extension, UT AgResearch, the UT College of Veterinary Medicine and the Herbert College of Agriculture.
In 2021, UT Extension provided information and education in the areas of agriculture and natural resources, community and economic development, family and consumer sciences, and 4-H in all 95 counties. These professionals made more than 1.5 million contacts through group meetings and on-site visits, with another estimated 20 million-plus contacts made digitally—all adding up to an economic impact of more than $540 million. The College of Veterinary Medicine managed a caseload of more than 35,000 patients in 2017-2018, from small and large animals, to exotic, equine and farm animals. UT AgResearch recorded 903,000 contacts in fiscal 2020 through attendance at field days and digital engagements highlighting the latest in agricultural scientific advancements. The UT Gardens located in Knoxville, Crossville and Jackson hosted more than 100,000 visitors in 2021.
The University enriches its communities with fine arts that bring the public to campuses. Faculty, staff and students share their skills through volunteer service and provide training, consulting and assistance to schools, businesses and civic organizations. Every year, thousands of adults and children are served by UT Health Science Center medical and dental clinics, and the College of Veterinary Medicine serves pets, livestock and zoo animals.
1. U.S. Dept of Energy – DOE National Laboratories (https://energy.gov/maps/doe-national-laboratories). Retrieved September 29, 2017
Updated October 2022