Greeting from the Dean

Dear Alumni and Friends of the College of Arts and Sciences,

Dean Bruce BurstenAll of us in the College hope you are doing well. As you are probably aware, our University, like nearly all public universities, has had to respond to the fiscal crisis that gripped our nation and most state budgets. We have responded by implementing appropriate changes in our operations, protecting our core activities, and, most of all, making certain that our students are served as well as possible. Our actions have positioned us to come out of the economic malaise poised to reach new heights of excellence in our College.

Happily, we began 2010 with a more optimistic outlook as Governor Phil Bredesen kicked off the New Year by challenging the University of Tennessee, Knoxville to become a top 25 public research university within the next decade.  Already seeking to ascend in national ranking, UTK leaders were encouraged by the Governor’s message and motivated to continue striving for a higher level of excellence.

Our Chancellor, Dr. Jimmy Cheek, responded to the Governor’s challenge by creating a Top 25 Task Force. The purpose of this task force is to analyze our current situation and provide a gap analysis for UTK in comparison to the top 25 public research universities nationwide. I have been asked by the Chancellor to be Chair of the task force. Working with other UTK leaders, we will produce a snapshot of our present resource base and challenges and develop plans to achieve the Governor’s ambitious goal.

As we strive for excellence as a university, the College of Arts and Sciences is at the fore of UTK’s advance. Our College is the central hub of our campus, and our faculty touches literally every student at UTK, regardless of their ultimate major. We are proud to have the privilege of introducing students to new ideas, new ways of thinking critically, and new forms of expression. Of course, with nearly 9,000 majors in our 21 academic departments and schools and our 9 Interdisciplinary Programs, we are (by far!) the largest college of UTK, and we are conscious of our impact on the University’s reputation.

In this issue of Higher Ground, you will find outstanding examples of ways in which the College is taking the lead in building the quality and reputation of the University. We are featuring some of the passionate faculty members, students and alumni who are the vanguards of our academic success. We invite you to join our efforts as we move the College forward.

We will end 2010 with a wonderful celebration. The long-awaited renovation of Ayres Hall is projected to be completed in Fall 2010, and we anticipate our move back to our iconic home. In addition to being the most recognizable building on our campus, Ayres Hall has come to symbolize the College of Arts and Sciences because it has long been our administrative residence.

We look forward to welcoming you back to campus for Homecoming (November 12-13, 2010) and for a tour of the renovated Ayres Hall. In the meantime, please bookmark the on-line edition of Higher Ground ( We know that you will cherish staying in touch with the most current developments and—even more importantly—staying in touch with your College of Arts and Sciences.

As always, we thank you for your unflagging support and love of our College.

With best regards,

Dean Bursten's signature
Bruce E. Bursten